10 Songs, 33 Minutes


About The Beefeaters

The Beefeaters made just one single in 1964, and were in fact an early version of the Byrds. When the nucleus of the Byrds were struggling to define their sound (and indeed pioneer the folk-rock genre) in 1964, they called themselves the Jet Set. Their manager, Jim Dickson, arranged for them to record a single, more to give them experience than to take a serious crack at a hit. Although drummer Michael Clarke was in the group by this point, only Roger McGuinn (on guitar), Gene Clark (guitar), and David Crosby (harmony vocals) played on the session, filled out by Ray Pohlman on bass and Earl Palmer on drums. "Please Let Me Love You" recalled the early Beatles and Peter & Gordon; the more forceful "Don't Be Long" would be redone on the Byrds' second album, Turn! Turn! Turn!, as "It Won't Be Wrong." Both tracks were embryonic folk-rock, callow but catchy and pleasing.

Dickson placed the single with Elektra Records, then still a label with little experience in rock or the singles market. Elektra Records head Jac Holzman renamed the band the Beefeaters on the single, to give them a British-type image. The single was heard by virtually no one, and the Beefeaters/Jet Set changed their name shortly afterward to the Byrds, signed to Columbia, released "Mr. Tambourine Man," and started making history.

The Beefeaters' single, an important and enjoyable relic, has been damnably rare for the most part since 1964. The versions that show up on the Rhino compilation In the Beginning are alternates, although they are extremely close to the official takes. The original 45 versions have shown up on bootleg, and "Don't Be Long" is on an Australian import CD collection of rarities. It is odd that, although Holzman discusses many folk-rock acts in his autobiography Follow the Music -- including the Lovin' Spoonful, whom, like the Byrds, he worked with briefly, but did not reap benefits from when they got hits -- does not mention the Beefeaters at all in the book. ~ Richie Unterberger

Top Songs by The Beefeaters