Before he became Patti Smith’s lead guitarist, Lenny Kaye compiled the 2 album set, Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era. Released in 1972, the two-LP set covered American garage rock and psychedelia from the years 1965-1968 and was a major influence on punk rock. Rhino Records reissued an expanded version of the set in 1998, with 118 tracks in total. I’m profiling and rating each of these 118 tracks, working backwards.
Track 46/118: Laugh, Laugh by The Beau Brummels
Release Date: 1964
From: San Francisco, California
Aphoristic Rating: 9/10
LAUGH, LAUGH – The Beau Brummels [2:48]
Personnel/SAL VALENTINO: vocals * RON ELLIOTT: lead guitar, vocals * DECLAN MULLIGAN: guitar, harmonica, vocals * RON MEAGHER: bass * JOHN PETERSEN: drums
A COUGAR Production
Recorded in San Francisco, CA
Autumn single #8 (12/64); Pop #15
The Beau Brummels were formed around vocalist Sal Valentino. They were Anglophiles in their early career, influenced by The Beatles and The Zombies, and taking their name from a well-known English dandy. Beau Brummell is also referenced by Billy Joel in his 1980 #1 hit ‘It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me’.
How about a pair of pink sidewinders,
And a bright orange pair of pants?
You could really be a Beau Brummel baby
If you just give it half a chance.
‘Laugh, Laugh’ was released in late 1964, putting the band ahead of the game in the rapid evolution of popular music in the 1960s. They were one of the first major San Francisco bands to release a record – ‘Laugh, Laugh’ came out before Jefferson Airplane even formed. There’s also a tinge of folk-rock to ‘Laugh, Laugh’, released before The Byrds’ electrification of ‘Mr Tambourine Man’.
‘Laugh, Laugh’ was produced by Sylvester Stewart, who went on to success as Sly Stone. It’s a very strong Nugget – a sophisticated song written by lead guitarist Ron Elliott. The harmonica is a nice touch – the notes are minimal, but it has a lonesome timbre. The band enjoyed critical acclaim for albums like 1967’s Triangle (featured in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die) and 1968’s Bradley’s Barn. Their first single, ‘Laugh, Laugh’ remains their best-known song, reaching #15 on Billboard and appearing on The Flintstones.
The Beau Brummels drifted apart in the late 1960s – bassist Ron Meagher was drafted to Vietnam, leaving Elliott and Valentino as the only members. The group have periodically reformed, releasing The Beau Brummels in 1975 and Continuum in 2013.