Five-part vocal harmony, violin, cello, bass, drums and percussion, guitars, keyboards is the 10-piece band The Left Banke. Acknowledged as the forerunners of the Baroque Pop genre, which is finding its way into popularity through musicians including the Decemberists, the Shins, Fleet Foxes, and Regina Spektor, The Left Banke is experiencing a renaissance as two of the orignal members Tom Finn and George Cameron are leading the band these days.
The Left Banke finds support from the music world, including contemporaries The Zombies, who the band is sharing bills with this summer in New York City and Washington, DC. Sundazed Records has re-mastered PRETTY BALLERINA and THE LEFT BANKE TOO on CD and 180gr vinyl; the collection has never-before-seen pictures and extensive recording information. HUFFINGTON POST praises The Left Banke's live shows, "Each song sounded as fresh as the last time it was played onstage, and if you squinted and didn't look too clearly at the stage or register the drink prices it could have been 1968 again."
Since 2011, when the group sold out shows in New York City's DROM and Joe's Pub, and collaborated on a Christmas program with WNYU's Choir, Finn and Cameron have been honing their touring chops, adding shows in the Mid-Altantic and New England, and rehearsing a band with musicians of several generations.
Finn and Cameron have received MORE than just the blessings of original members Michael Brown and Steve Martin as both have been writing new songs with the band. Brown also joined the group on stage to play piano when the group played at BB King Blues Club.
Originally formed in New York City in 1965, The Left Banke came to prominence with the orchestral and melodic "Walk Away Renee," which featured a harpsichord and a string quartet. “Walk Away Renee” was shopped to every major label, and turned down by all except Smash, a subsidiary label of Mercury Records. It charted in 1966, reaching #5 on the Billboard charts.
Leonard Bernstein (Conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and brilliant composer of many musicals including WEST SIDE STORY and CANDIDE), stated"The Left Banke and 'Pretty Ballerina' are an example of what good pop music can be" on his CBS-TV special, INSIDE POP - THE ROCK REVOLUTION. Two albums were released: WALK AWAY RENEE/PRETTY BALLERINA and THE LEFT BANKE TOO. Bad management and poorly-planned tours broke up the group in 1968.
Through the years, the music of The Left Banke has gained legions of new fans and a lot of newfound credibility, as evident by Oasis' front man Noel Gallagher's recent comments in the press, where he praises The Left Banke, as "the best f*****g record I've heard in my life!" A wide range of artists have covered "Renee," including the Four Tops, Tori Amos, Frankie Valli, Vonda Shepard, Billy Bragg, The Association, Linda Ronstadt, Marshall Crenshaw, Southside Johnny, Badly Drawn Boy, Bon Jovi, and Rickie Lee Jones. It's performed in the Dolly Parton/Queen Latifah movie, JOYFUL NOISE.
In 2008, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked it #220 in their list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song is in the movie THE BODYGUARD and on the soundtrack of ADDICTED TO LOVE. "Pretty Ballerina" appears in APOCALYPSE NOW, while Alice Cooper, John Mellencamp, and the Dickies kept the beauty and mystique in their covers of the song in their versions. The Bangles Susanna Hoffs and Matthew Sweet (as Sid 'n' Susie) and also Anne Murray covered "She May Call You Up Tonight."
So many artists have been part of the Left Banke's history. In addition to "Martin," there was a Steven Tallarico who sang back up on the album LEFT BANKE TOO. The other Michael than Brown, who sang with the band was "McKean," who we now know as a great actor. So as The Left Banke continues to create music, we'll see discover new stories of this growing group.
THE LEFT BANKE ON TOUR
August 5 & 6: Highline Ballroom, New York, NY w/ The Zombies
August 8: World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA
August 9: Howard Theater, Washington, DC w/ The Zombies