The Beau Brummels

From the Vaults [One Way]

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No group ever straddled the gap between folk-rock and garage punk better than the Beau Brummels -- and anyone who wants to take issue with that statement should give a listen to this CD. Rhino Records assembled and issued this 14-song collection in 1982 on vinyl, and it marked the first serious attempt to make sense of the Beau Brummels' large body of unissued recordings; since then, Sundazed has outdone them with a three-CD set covering the years 1964-1966, but most of those are here confined to around the time of their second album, later in 1965. It says something about the quality of the band's work that these 14 outtakes make one of the best albums of the period, rivalling the best contemporary work of the Byrds and nudging up alongside the likes of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Kinks for listening time. The funny thing is, the entire album plays like a specimen of the group's work from some alternate universe, even opening on an unexpected note with a lead vocal by Ron Meagher doing a beautiful punkish lament on "I Will Go," with chiming rhythm guitars and a lead guitar part laden with faux-Arab-esque flourishes. The rest is made up not just of leftovers, but rejected singles ("Gentle Wandering Ways"), songs ("She Loves Me") proposed but never recorded officially, a vocal version of a song ("Woman") originally issued as an instrumental, and an extended demo version of one key song ("Sad Little Girl") that was never otherwise issued complete, among other oddities. The latter is one of the best recordings in the group's entire output, and worth the price of the CD by itself; the Declan Mulligan-sung version of "Woman" (once only available as part of the movie Village of the Giants) isn't far behind on the harder, punkier side of the band's output. The whole disc is one of the best folk-rock and garage punk albums of the 1960s, and essential listening for anyone interested in those genres or that decade.

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