The usual history of country rock goes something like this: The Byrds invented it with Sweetheart of the Radio. A more sophisticated version of that story is that the International Submarine Band invented country rock, but nobody heard their record, so the Byrds popularized the genre when they hired ISB singer-songwriter Gram Parsons and he co-opted their plans. The more I learn about country rock, the more I learn that the received history is incomplete.
This record is one of two landmark country rock records that came out in October 1968, not long after Sweetheart of the Radio. It would seem that there was a veritable movement afoot, as that’s at least four records in the span of about half a year. Like so many genres, the story of the birth of this one is not the story of one record, but the story of many.
I don’t think I’d even heard of the Beau Brummels before I heard this record and reading about the band I can understand why. It seems that, prior to this record, they were following trends rather than leading them.
This record is slicker than the other country rock albums from 1968; it’s clear that this band is a polished pop rock outfit, and it’s clear that they have less reverence for traditional country than the other bands that pioneered the genre. But this is still about as country as pop rock gets for 1968 and attempts to characterize it as folk rock or baroque pop fall away when you listen to the music, even if the lead vocalist never really sounds like a country singer.
This record is not as important as the International Submarine Band’s debut – which was first – the Byrds’ record or the Dillard and Clark record that came out the same month because, frankly, the songs aren’t as strong, the lead vocalist isn’t the performer that the other lead singers are, and it’s maybe a little too polished for my liking. But it’s still hard to believe this record has been essentially forgotten, especially given how much it sounds like later, softer country rock bands such as Poco.