|Single by The Beau Brummels|
|from the album Introducing the Beau Brummels|
|B-side||"Still In Love With You Baby"|
Golden State Recorders, San Francisco, California
|Genre||Garage rock, folk rock, pop rock|
|Producer(s)||Sylvester "Sly Stone" Stewart|
|The Beau Brummels singles chronology|
"Laugh, Laugh" is a song by American rock group The Beau Brummels, written by guitarist Ron Elliott and produced by Sylvester Stewart, later known as Sly Stone. Released in December 1964 as the band's debut single, the song reached number 15 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart the following February. "Laugh, Laugh" was the first hit single to come out of the emerging San Francisco music scene in response to the British Invasion. The song was later included on the band's first full-length album, Introducing the Beau Brummels, released in April 1965.
The Beau Brummels promoted the single by appearing on several television shows, including a 1965 episode of The Flintstones in which the band gave an animated performance as the Beau Brummelstones. In 1994, "Laugh, Laugh" was selected to The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll exhibit. Lead singer Sal Valentino reworked the song for his 2008 solo album, Every Now and Then.
Background and composition
In 1964, San Francisco disc jockeys Tom Donahue and Bobby Mitchell were looking for new acts to bring to their Autumn Records label. They discovered the Beau Brummels performing at the Morocco Room, a club in nearby San Mateo, and signed the band shortly thereafter. Donahue and Mitchell were eager to capitalize on Beatlemania, a phenomenon surrounding The Beatles that originated several years before in Germany and was spreading across the U.S. by this time. The Beau Brummels had taken their name, a British term for a term for an excessively well-dressed person, suggested to them, which lead singer Valentino maintained they didn't even know how to spell. Even the harmonies of "Laugh, Laugh" were reminiscent of popular British acts of the time, such as the Beatles and The Zombies. However, songwriter-guitarist Ron Elliott said the song was directly influenced not by UK bands, but by U.S. pop group The Four Seasons.
Elliott grew up writing music inspired by theatrical composers such as George Gershwin and Jerome Kern, as well as country music artist Lefty Frizzell. After forming the Beau Brummels with lead vocalist Sal Valentino, Elliott wanted to create simplified music that had mainstream appeal. He noted that "Laugh, Laugh" had a "very complex chord structure, but instead of using the major seventh chords and the passing chords that I prefer, I wrote the song in flat major and minor keys using a simplified tonal structure." Elliott said he liked using minor keys as he believed they added an element of mystery to the music, similar to that of James Bond films. Lyrically, "Laugh, Laugh" describes a rejected lover who takes pleasure in revenge when someone rejects the one who had rejected him.
The song features a harmonica, played by Declan Mulligan, throughout the tune.
The single version of "Laugh, Laugh," universally heard in 1965 when it was a hit, fades out during the second iteration of the line "Lonely/Oh so lonely." The full version does not fade out, but rather ends "cold" on an E chord. As most oldies radio stations today play songs provided by a music service rather than actual records, the version with the cold ending is heard almost universally now. This version also features a "yeah" uttered by Sal Valentino between the two iterations of "lonely" that was edited out of the single release.
The song was produced by Autumn house producer Sylvester Stewart, who later gained fame as Sly Stone of Sly & the Family Stone. Valentino recalled the band's recording sessions with Stone: "He was only about nineteen or twenty when we worked with him. It was before all of his reputation came to be, that everybody knows him for now." Valentino added, "He was a cheerleader. He could play everything if we needed him to. He was great. He was the guy in San Francisco who knew how to make a record in the studio. There was nobody before him." Elliott agreed, saying Stone was a positive influence on the band because of his talent, intelligence and experience.
Release and reception
A sample of "Laugh, Laugh" from the Beau Brummels' 1965 album, Introducing the Beau Brummels. This sample illustrates the song shifting from the first verse to the chorus.
Problems playing this file? See media help.
"Laugh, Laugh" was released in December 1964, seven months after the band's formation. In January 1965, the song entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number 96. The song remained in the top 40 portion of the chart for eight weeks, peaking at number 15 in February. Donahue believed the single would have peaked at number one if the band was on a label with stronger distribution. In Canada, the song reached number two on RPM magazine's singles chart. As the song climbed the charts, many listeners assumed the Beau Brummels were British, due to the band's name and musical style. For their part, Donahue and Mitchell spread rumors that the band was indeed from the UK, and had the band dress in Beatlesque suits.
"Laugh, Laugh" was the first hit single from a burgeoning San Francisco music scene—including such bands as Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, We Five, Moby Grape, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Country Joe and the Fish— to respond to the British Invasion. The song is credited as one of the earliest tracks to blend beat music with folk rock, even before The Byrds recorded "Mr. Tambourine Man." Chris Hillman, who played bass guitar with the Byrds, saw the Beau Brummels at a Los Angeles concert, and later remarked: "I remember them doing the hit they had, 'Laugh, Laugh.' They really sort of answered the Beatles before we did, in that sense." However, Byrds singer-guitarist Roger McGuinn claimed "they had a little trouble singing in tune." The song was one of 10 pop singles named in a January 1966 issue of Billboard which credited the use of harmonica in folk, pop, and rhythm and blues (R&B) music for sparking a harmonica sales boom at record retailers in 1964 and 1965.
Music critic Dave Marsh selected the song for his 1989 book, The Heart of Rock & Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. William Ruhlmann of Allmusic called it a "pivotal" song with "cleverly arranged harmonies." On the other hand, Chris Smith of Stylus Magazine described it as a "mostly colorless, indistinct Beatles rip-off" and "pretty unmemorable." In 1994, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's curatorial staff, along with rock critics and historians, selected "Laugh, Laugh" for a Hall of Fame exhibit featuring The 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll."
In popular culture
The Beau Brummels performed "Laugh, Laugh" on several television music variety shows of the mid-1960s, including NBC's Hullabaloo on February 23, 1965, ABC's Shindig! on March 10, 1965 and American Bandstand on April 9, 1966. In September 1965, the Beatles' self-titled animated television series debuted and became an immediate ratings success. As a result, animation studios moved quickly to incorporate cartoon rock bands into other programs. An early effort by Hanna-Barbera showcased the Beau Brummels as animated guests on The Flintstones sitcom in the season six episode "Shinrock A Go-Go," which originally aired on December 3, 1965. Appearing as The Beau Brummelstones, the band performed "Laugh, Laugh" on Bedrock's TV teen dance show, Shinrock—a takeoff of the Shindig! program.
"Laugh, Laugh" was included on the 1998 four-CD expanded edition of Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965–1968, a collection of American garage rock singles that helped influence the development of 1970s punk rock. (It was not included in the original 1972 compilation double album). The song was also featured in the 1989 John Candy comedy-drama film Uncle Buck.
An alternate take appears on the Beau Brummels' 1996 three-disc box set San Fran Sessions, a collection of rarities, demos and outtakes. The band's Live! album, released in 2000, contains a 1974 performance of "Laugh, Laugh" recorded during a concert in Fair Oaks Village near Sacramento, California. Sal Valentino revisited the song on his 2008 solo album, Every Now and Then, on which he offers a darker interpretation of the track. Surf rock group The Astronauts performed a cover version of "Laugh, Laugh" on their 1967 album, Travelin' Man. The song was also covered by California garage rock band The E-Types, whose live rendition is part of the Live at the Rainbow Ballroom 1966 album, released in 1998. Experimental musician R. Stevie Moore recorded a version of the song on his 1983 album, Crises. Rob Seel released a version in 2017, which includes performances by Mark Dawson of the Grass Roots and Grip Weeds members Kurt Reil, Rick Reil, and Kristin Pinell.
- 7" Vinyl
|2.||"Still In Love With You Baby"||Elliott||2:30|
Credits and personnel
- Sal Valentino – lead vocals, tambourine
- Ron Elliott – lead guitar, vocals
- Ron Meagher – bass guitar, vocals
- Declan Mulligan – rhythm guitar, harmonica, vocals
- John Petersen – drums
- Sylvester Stewart – producer
- Leo de Gar Kulka – engineer
|Canadian Singles Chart||2|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||15|
|U.S. Cash Box Top 100||17|
- Tahsler, Bruce (2007). Garage Bands From the Sixties, Then and Now (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Teens 'N Twenties Publications. p. 73. ISBN 978-1-4243-1813-1.
- Tamarkin, Jeff (2003). Got a Revolution! : The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane. New York: Atria (Simon & Schuster). p. 22. ISBN 978-0-671-03403-0.
- Farrar, Justin F. (March 1, 2006). "Oh, Pioneers". SF Weekly (New Times Media). Retrieved August 20, 2009.
- Cohen, Elliot Stephen (2008-04-24). "Beau Brummels Look to Rewrite History with Greatest-Hits Package". Goldmine (F+W Media). Retrieved 2010-09-29. In a 2008 interview with Goldmine magazine Valentine explained: "We just needed a name, and that sounded good. We didn't even know how to spell it.
- Gillett, Charlie (1996). The Sound Of The City: The Rise Of Rock And Roll (2nd ed.). New York: Da Capo Press. p. 351. ISBN 978-0-306-80683-4.
- Selvin, Joel (1996). San Francisco: The Musical History Tour: A Guide to Over 200 of the Bay Area's Most Memorable Music Sites (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Chronicle Books. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-8118-1007-4.
- Unterberger, Richie (2000). Urban Spacemen and Wayfaring Strangers: Overlooked Innovators and Eccentric Visionaries of '60s Rock. San Francisco: Miller Freeman, Inc. pp. 174–177. ISBN 978-0-87930-616-8.
- Unterberger, Richie (2000). Turn! Turn! Turn!: The '60s Folk-Rock Revolution. San Francisco: Backbeat Books. pp. 125–6. ISBN 978-0-87930-703-5.
- March, Jeff; Childs, Marti (1999). Echoes of the Sixties. New York: Billboard Books (Nielsen Business Media, Inc.). p. 138. ISBN 978-0-8230-8316-9.
- Ruhlmann, William. "'Laugh, Laugh' - Song Review". Allmusic (Rovi Corporation). Retrieved August 20, 2009.
- Gulla, Bob (2007). Icons of R&B and Soul: An Encyclopedia of the Artists Who Revolutionized Rhythm, Volume 2. Westport, Conn: Greenwood. p. 420. ISBN 978-0-313-34046-8.
- James, Gary. "Beau Brummels Interview". Classic Bands. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
- "Billboard Hot 100". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 77 (1): 10. January 2, 1965. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits (8th ed.). New York: Billboard Books (Nielsen Business Media, Inc.). p. 53. ISBN 978-0-8230-7499-0.
- "Billboard Hot 100". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 77 (8): 26. February 20, 1965. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
- Selvin, Joel (May 19, 1996). "Searchin' for The Dock of the Bay". San Francisco Chronicle (Hearst Corporation). Retrieved August 20, 2009.
- "RPM 100". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. 2 (25). February 15, 1965. ISSN 0315-5994. Retrieved November 5, 2009.
- Sullivan, Denise (August 4, 2000). "Baypop Festival Flashes Back to Sixties San Francisco". Rolling Stone (Wenner Media). Retrieved August 20, 2009.
- Selvin, Joel (February 22, 2006). "Decades in Obscurity, Beau Brummels Front Man Surfaces to Remind Us What the Fuss Was All About". San Francisco Chronicle (Hearst Corporation). Retrieved August 20, 2009.
- "Folk Revival Sparks Harmonica Boom". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 78 (3): 10. January 15, 1966. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved November 5, 2009.
- Marsh, Dave (1989). The Heart Of Rock & Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. New York: Da Capo Press. p. 555. ISBN 978-0-306-80901-9.
- Smith, Chris (July 15, 2002). "Nuggets: An Odyssey". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved August 20, 2009.
- "500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll". The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. Archived from the original on June 21, 2008. Retrieved August 20, 2009.
- "Hullabaloo!: Show #7 Host: Sammy Davis, Jr. episode summary". TV.com (CBS Interactive). Retrieved August 20, 2009.
- "Shindig: Dobie Gray / Drifters / Beau Brummels / Tony Bennett episode summary". TV.com (CBS Interactive). Retrieved August 20, 2009.
- "American Bandstand: The Beau Brummels episode summary". TV.com (CBS Interactive). Retrieved August 20, 2009.
- Austen, Jake (2005). TV-a-Go-Go: Rock on TV from American Bandstand to American Idol. Chicago, Ill.: Chicago Review Press (Independent Publishers Group). pp. 124, 127. ISBN 978-1-55652-572-8.
- Childs, T. Mike (2004). The Rocklopedia Fakebandica. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-312-32944-0. Retrieved October 19, 2009.
- "Rolling Stone - Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968". Rolling Stone (Wenner Media). August 1, 2003. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
- Savage, Jon (2002). England's Dreaming: Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock, and Beyond (Revised ed.). New York: St. Martin's Griffin. pp. 64, 81, 561. ISBN 978-0-312-28822-8.
- Gray, Marcus (2004). The Clash: Return of the Last Gang in Town (2nd ed.). Milwaukee, Wis.: Hal Leonard. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-634-08240-5.
- "Filmography Overview - The Beau Brummels". IMDb.com, Inc. Retrieved August 20, 2009.
- Unterberger, Richie. "San Fran Sessions - Overview". Allmusic (Rovi Corporation). Retrieved October 15, 2009.
- Eder, Bruce. "Live! - Overview". Allmusic (Rovi Corporation). Retrieved August 26, 2009.
- Zimmerman, Lee (October 16, 2008). "Album Review — Sal Valentino: Every Now and Then". Goldmine (F+W Media). Retrieved September 29, 2009.
- "Travelin' Man - Overview". Allmusic (Rovi Corporation). Retrieved October 15, 2009.
- Koda, Cub. "Live at the Rainbow Ballroom 1966 - Overview". Allmusic (Rovi Corporation). Retrieved October 15, 2009.
- Mason, Stewart. "R. Stevie Moore - Biography". Allmusic (Rovi Corporation). Retrieved August 24, 2009.
- "Crises - Overview". Allmusic (Rovi Corporation). Retrieved September 10, 2009.
- Wixen Music Publishing / Rob Seel via CDBaby
- "The Beau Brummels - Charts & Awards - Billboard Singles". Allmusic (Rovi Corporation). Retrieved August 20, 2009.
- "Cash Box Top 100 - March 6, 1965". Cashbox Magazine, Inc. Retrieved April 16, 2014.