If ever there was a cautionary example of a group mishandled by the music industry, the Beau Brummels are it. With two sublime folk-rock singles ("Laugh Laugh" and "Just A Little") on the charts in 1965, the San Fran band's first record label, the short-lived and shot-loose Autumn Records, quickly collapsed and sold its catalog within a year. As a result, the Brummels wound up at Warner Bros. Records, and their first release for Warners turned out to be . . . a collection of cover songs! (And this was despite the fact that the band had a strong songwriter in guitarist Ron Elliot.) Whose bright idea was this, anyway?
In the liner notes for Collector's Choice Music's new reissue of this musical misfire, Richie Unterberger attempts to nail the responsible parties, but doesn't provide a definitive answer. To be sure, the Brummels weren't the only ones padding their resumes with a current covers set – in '64, the Supremes attempted a collection of then-contemporary British Invasion hits, for instance – but it was a decidedly odd choice for a major label debut. To make matters worse, the final product, 66, can't decided whether it wants to be a group-flavored reinterpretation of these oh-so-familiar tracks or a Sounds of the Sixties studio group replication. When it's the former, the platter has its enjoyable moments, when it's the latter – as when lead singer Sal Valentino subordinates his uniquely mournful voice to imitate Peter Noone crooning "Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter" – it just sounds lame.
66 is typically most successful when the material being reworked has a folk-rock vibe in its core. The album opens on a strong note: John Lennon's "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," a track that fits Valentino's melancholy song stylings beautifully. Further along, the band puts its sonic stamp on Paul Simon's (mislabeled "Paul Smith" – of Smith & Garfunkle? – by CCM on the disc's back cover) "Homeward Bound" and the Mamas and Papas' "Monday Monday" to good purpose. And in perhaps the album's most surprisingly successful remake, they replace the descending bass lines in Nancy Sinatra's big hit, "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'," with garagey guitar fillips. The amusing results wouldn't sound out of place on one of Rhino's Nuggets compilations, placed 'tween tracks by the Standells and the Music Machine.