Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Beau Brummell Esquire & His Noble Men - B Side Vinyl 7" 1965

In the same way that the ghost of psychedelia still haunted record stores in the early seventies (just ask anyone who bought a Hawkwind single) and leftover punks made their presence felt in the early eighties, Elvis Presley's particular brand of rock and roll could still be observed in the clubs and dancehalls long after Merseybeat changed the mainstream settings of the pop scene.

Beau Brummell Esquire's vocalisings on this record are, to all intents and purposes, rather akin to the kinds of professional sneering Elvis-isms we can all hear these days from performers in certain restaurants up and down the land where birthday parties and stag dos are welcomed. "I Know, Know, Know" isn't necessarily a retread of the old fifties discs and has enough sixties swing to have made it sound reasonably contemporary - but still, the swaggering confidence behind the main performance belongs sounds as if it belongs underneath a major quiff, and the record even comes complete with an Elvis cover version on the B-side. Despite the similarities to the King of Rock and Roll, though, this record doesn't half pack an energetic and addictive punch, and Brummell should be applauded for the self-penned top side. 

Beau (if I may call him that, although his real name is Mike Bush) was a South African who was attempting to launch his career in Britain in the early sixties. Backed by the Noble Men, a band previously known as The Detours, his live performances were apparently the subject of much discussion throughout their career, being invariably described as charismatic and energetic. With that force of personality apparently also came a major flaw, according to many internet rumours. Stories abound to the effect that whilst the club venue PAs of the day could cover up his shortcomings with their distorted and indistinct sound, his lack of vocal prowess was more noticeable in the studio. One estimate suggests that "I Know, Know, Know" took a hundred takes as a result of his flat delivery, which sounds like an exaggeration, and you certainly can't hear that struggle in the grooves. The final product sounds as if it could have been a hit, and surely would have been had it been released a few years earlier. 

Success did not come Mr Brummell's way with this single or any others, and in the end he returned to South Africa to set up a naturist valley in the Northern Transvaal, whereas The Noble Men became The Penny Peeps who have been featured on this blog before. You can see an unbelievably detailed timeline of the group's history over on the impeccable "Garage Hangover" site, which provides biogs of sixties bands the official rock biographers never really cared about. 


December The group evolves out of Bognor Regis group, The Detours, which was formed in early 1960 by bass player Bryan Stevens (b. 14 November 1943, Laha Datu, North Borneo). The Detours have gone through numerous personnel changes over the years with singer Johnny Devlin (real name: Johnny Hobbs, not the New Zealand singer) joining in early 1962. His arrival prompts a name change to Johnny Devlin & The Detours. Shortly afterwards, Stevens recruits former Soundtracks keyboard player Mick Ketley (b. 1 October 1947, Balham, London). Later that year, he also brings in former Cruisers guitarist Alan Paul “Chuck” Fryers (b. 24 May 1945, Bognor Regis, West Sussex) and adds sax player Bob Pettit from a Chichester abattoir. In 1963, Bernie Smith, another former Sountracks member, takes over the drum stool. Johnny Devlin & The Detours sign to Pye in November and record two tracks – “Sometimes” and “If You Want Someone”, which are coupled for a single, released in January 1964. Despite a group appearance on TV show Thank Your Lucky Stars, the single fails to chart and Devlin leaves. Pete Townsend and John Entwistle see Devlin’s band on the TV show and decided to change their band’s name from The Detours to The High Numbers, which will subsequently become The Who. The group carries on with singer John Read and plays venues on the south coast like Littlehampton’s Top Hat and Worthing’s Mexican Hat. Bob Gaitley, who runs both clubs, invites The Detours to back a new singer, South African Mike Bush, who is launching himself as Beau Brummell. The group accepts and changes name to The Noblemen.
December EMI producer Bob Barrett signs Beau Brummell and The Noblemen and takes them into Abbey Road to record a single – Beau Brummell Esquire and His Noblemens “I Know, Know, Know” backed by a version of “Shopping Around” from Elvis’ film GI Blues.

Tom Jones / Beau Brummel Esquire


B1 Beau Brummel Esquire - I Know, I Know, I Konw
B2 Beau Brummel Esquire - Shoppin' Around


Tom Jones - That's What We'll All Do

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