Monday, November 12, 2007

THE LEFT BANKE: TURN LEFT FOR CLEVELAND - YOU ARE NOW LEAVING GREENWICH VILLAGE


Myrah 45: ib design

I know, i know. As Big B commented several months back with regards to his Big Star post, if you are already familiar with a group you probably know everything there is to know about them.

Well, next to Alex Chilton, Mike Brown (nē Lookofsky) was probably one of the most talented sixteen year olds you're ever likely to hear comitted to vinyl. Add Steve Martin Caro's perfectly pitched vocals to the mix and you have an undisputed recipe for absolutely soul-stirring ethereal pop genius.

"Walk Away Renée" was a huge international hit for the Four Tops, but doesn't come close to the original release on Smash Records. A sterling expression of unrequited love, you can satisfy your curiosity as to how the Left Banke came together and fell apart as a result of a tortured combination of ego, narcotics, and abysmal management here.* Possibly the best Fan Site you will come across on the web, there is a treasure trove of unreleased and hard to find material online to be downloaded and digested too. The follow up single "Pretty Ballerina" was, unexpectedly, even better. We are talking Major League shit here. A perfect balance of Beatles baroque and Velvet Underground leftfieldism.

The undisputed princes, if not kings, of Greenwich Village.

Brown, à la Brian Wilson, and the rest of the group inevitably clashed and he departed before a second album could be delivered, but the Left Banke's final 45 release on Smash in 1969 saw the Left Banke briefly reconcile their differences to produce a double a-side comparable to anything previously released. I've never been able to source a picture sleeve or label image for this release, so the image posted above is something cobbled together in Photoshop designed to fill a blank on my MP3 Player.

As for the Cleveland connection, Steve Martin left some solo demos with a fellow Left Banke member for safe-keeping at some point in the 80s, while he travelled from New York City for Ohio on unspecified business. These demos eventually wound up here.**

That tenuous NY/Ohio connection alone is reason enough to post this *** for your entertainment also. Rocket from the Tombs.

Web-links:

* http://leftbanke.larryhovis.net
** http://leftbanke.larryhovis.net/summersong.php

*** download: PERE UBU: FINAL SOLUTION (hearthan HR102, 1976)

Recorded October 21, 1969 (Mercury Studios, N.Y.) (Smash 2243 )
download: THE LEFT BANKE: MYRAH
download: THE LEFT BANKE: PEDESTAL

posted by ib

10 comments:

brendan said...

you are killing me! Definitely a favorite. One of the best.

If you love this, especially the later Left Banke, you have to check out Mike Brown's subsequent work with Stories, but before that, a wonderful little album called Montage.

ib said...

Hey Brendan,

i noticed earlier your site had a Left Banke post up on the compilation "There's Gonna be Storm" with some Larry Hovis links also, but didn't leave a comment because this post was already lined up.

I've known about Montage for a while but still haven't heard the album, so thanks for the link! Same goes for the Stories.

"The Left Banke Too", 1968's follow up to their debut, was a much patchier affair precisely because of Mike Brown's absence, but this 45 is a major return to form. Sad it didn't lead to something more; Steve Martin vowed he'd never work with the Laft Banke again.

If they haven't already, NYC should cough up the cash and erect a plaque to this group in the Village... They definitely merit it.

brendan said...

i'm in the east village, maybe i should get busy with a graffiti pen.

ib said...

i'm too envious of your geographical location - almost - to respond to that one, Brendan!

i'd get myself an engraving kit. Or form a petition to the mayor, maybe, if he can get his nose out the coke long enough to read it...

Charlemange said...

Hey thank for plugging my Left Banke site. Your Myrah cover is a lot nicer than the actual one. Those songs are actually just Steve and Mike with Tom Kaye's band.

Steve did go on to work with the LB again in 2004 on some nice demos called Airborne. They can be found on Leftbankeisms 2.

I added your info to my news section.

Charlemange said...

PS re: Summer Song

Nothing is really known about these demos, what year they were recorded, who wrote the songs etc.

I made a music video for Summer Song that is worth checking out under machinima videos on leftbanke.nu

ib said...

Hey charlemange,

This is an honour. Thanks for the info RE Myrah/Pedestal - Have you anymore details regarding the line-up, recording details ? It's probably up there on your site, but if so i've missed the progression since there is so much to contend with.

Great to know that Steve went on to record with the LB as recently as 2004. I'm intrigued. I tried to download Leftbankeisms 2 from your site on a couple of occasions, but had problems unzipping the relevant files; this was through dial-up, mind you, and i work exclusively from a mac so there may be cross-platform issues.

RE Summer Song - i did a cover for this too, of the film noir school, can e-mail you it if you're interested. Thanks for the compliment regards the Myrah 45 image. Do you have the original to compare ? Unfortunately, i haven't been able to check out your video for Summer Song to date, but that will soon be resolved.

Love your enthusiasm and dedication to this fantastic group and all related artists. www.leftbanke.nu (!!!)

Charlemange said...

Go ahead and email me your Summer Song pic. You may have to use Stuff It to get the LBism2 files. If you still have problems, let me know.

Only other details I have about Myrah/Pedestal is that it was done at Elephant 9 Studios.

The sleeve is just some crummy artwork and this pic:
http://leftbanke.larryhovis.net/pix/lb4.jpg

Bukkake said...

Hey, nice post, fab sleeve!

Really is a bummer how it's hard to think of the Left Banke as a complete unit considering they barely existed as a full line-up after the debut album for all the reasons mentioned above.

Although, as you all seem to know just as well as I do, that doesn't mean they didn't get together every once in a while to lay down some pop perfection, like it wasn't no deal at all. While Charlemange certainly knows about this, perhaps you've yet to hear the products of a brief reunion in the early 70's - two excellent tunes called Two By Two and Love Songs In The Night.

Those two songs were actually my introduction to the group and are so far out, truly beautiful. If you haven't heard them, change that!

*Josh (Viva Radiø~)

ib said...

Hey Bukkake, thanks for the comment.

I have actually heard the kama sutra/buddah 45, but i think only after a prolonged search: from "Ultra Violet's Hot Parts" sampler from 1972. Both beautiful tunes which stand as testimony to the fact that Steve Martin Caro was capable of challenging Mike Brown as a writer of huge talent.

Viva Radio!