Monday, April 13, 2015

The Beau Brummels - Magic Hollow (1964-1968)


The Beau Brummels - Magic Hollow 2005

Magic Hollow is a box set compilation by The Beau Brummels comprising 113 songs recorded between 1964-1968, including hit singles, demos, outtakes, rarities and previously unissued material. The set was released on June 21, 2005 by Rhino Handmade
As a four-CD, 113-track collection of 1960s Beau Brummels recordings (nothing is included from their post-'60s reunions), Magic Hollow is an excellent overview of the career of one of the finest and most underrated American bands. There's a good balance between their most familiar material (including all of their hits) and rarities, 42 of the tracks seeing release here for the first time (though some of those are alternate versions). True, some die-hard fans of the group would have welcomed a Bear Family-styled no-stones-unturned box set, as for all this set's length, there are several CD's worth of cuts that don't appear here. Some of the Triangle album is missing, most of Bradley's Barn is absent, and there are a wealth of missing unreleased-in-the-'60s tracks that have shown up on other Beau Brummels comps. But if a four-CD size limitation had to be imposed, this is about as good as could be hoped for, chronologically sequenced so as to gracefully trace their evolution from the first truly fine American British Invasion-inspired band to folk-rock and country-rock innovators. For those who've collected the Beau Brummels for a while, the most attention-grabbing items will be the rarities, which are both plentiful and usually of surprisingly high quality. "People Are Cruel," a September, 1964 recording of a previously unheard Ron Elliott original (even pre-dating their signing to Autumn Records), has their excellent haunting British Invasion-style melodies and vocal harmonies already in place; the backing track "Here I Am in Love Again," sadly missing vocals, has an intriguingly complex, beguiling tune; "Darkness" is a fine Elliott solo demo from 1965. Though their Autumn era is heavily represented by two full CDs of music, there are less previously unreleased cuts on the set from the mid-'60s than there are from their stint at Warner Brothers in 1966-68, and discs three and four really pour on the vault discoveries. Disc three alone has a bunch of previously unissued Sal Valentino compositions that further prove him to be a fine composer in his own right, even if he was overshadowed by primary Beau Brummels writer Elliott. A wealth of early 1967 outtakes (including some solo Valentino demos, highlighted by "Only Dreaming Now" and "Magic Hollow" itself) show them moving toward the more sophisticated feel of Triangle, though without as orchestrated a sound. Disc four, in addition to containing much of Triangle and some of Bradley's Barn, rounds off the picture of their journey into countrified folk-rock with another generous helping of outtakes, demos, and alternates that are in most respects up to the level of the music they officially released between late 1967 and late 1968. Also, it should be noted that Magic Hollow contains all of the band's non-LP single sides from their Warner Brothers era, some of which have been fiendishly hard to find since the '60s. It's all iced with a fine, 48-page booklet, jam-packed with photos, track information, and extensive interview quotes with bandmembers that bring much of their less-documented history to light.




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