The Beau Brummels

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The Byrds are often cited as America's first long-haired rock & roll group, but the Beau Brummels, led by singer Sal Valentino and guitarist/songwriter Ron Elliott, had them beat by nearly a year. This San Francisco quintet were fairly canny--they named themselves after the famous Victorian dandy not only because it sounded English but because it came right after Beatles in the record bins--and they also delivered the goods musically.

A stunning combination of early folk-rock with garagey brashness, heavy on the acoustic guitars and harmonica, the Beau Brummels recorded a number of remarkable songs for San Francisco's Autumn Records, all of them produced by Sylvester Stewart, later to find fame, fortune, and drug problems as Sly Stone. This fine-sounding 13-track budget compilation hits all the high points, especially the near-perfect hit "Laugh Laugh" and its nearly-as-good follow-up, "Just a Little."

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