Friday, July 31, 2009

formal disclosures



toulouse, 2008. photographs by rory lindsay.



So much has been written here and elsewhere regarding Brooklyn's once forgotten finest that I will resist the temptation to embellish, save for the reminder that chief songwriter, Mike Brown was just sixteen years old when this rarified gem of an album was recorded in his father's studio above a beauty school just a block from the infamous Brill Building. And vocalist, Steve Martin a mere two years his elder.

A quick glance at my iTunes play count reveals that this song is well up there in my own Top 50. Like several others on their debut LP, the song's inspiration lay in Brown's well documented infatuation with
Renée Felden, a young woman introduced to the boys living out of 1595 Broadway through mutual acquaintance, Tom Feher.

According to bassist, Tom Finn - who eventually secured Felden's affections - on the original session the drums were laid down by an anonymous jobbing 802 Union professional; the bass provided by classical cellist, Seymour Barrab; and the strings - oboe and cello - by friends of Michael's dad, including George Marge.

Recorded in the bleak winter of 1966, this is the sound of unrequited passion without the almost inevitable acrimony.


Steve Martin (Caro): vocals ;
Rick Brand: guitar;
Jeff Winfield: guitar;
Mike Brown (Lookovsky): harpsichord, piano;
George Cameron: drums;
Tom Finn: bass.

Written by Michael Brown.
Produced by Harry Lookofsky; Steve Jerome; Bill Jerome
at World United Studio, 1595 Broadway NYC.

THE LEFT BANKE: PRETTY BALLERINA from "WALK AWAY RENÉE / PRETTY BALLERINA" LP (Smash Records) 1967 (US)

CHARLEMANGE'S LEFT BANKE SITE

7 comments:

vlad said...

Beautiful song. Thanks for this post.

ib said...

Thanks for the feedback, vlad. An under appreciated group to some extent, still.

By the way, some of your shots are excellent; Mesa Verde and the Everglades, especially. Very nice.

The Warden said...

Very interesting. I know next to nothing about the Left Banke, other than Walk Away Renee, which my older bro had on 45 and I always loved. I just assumed they were British, like the Kinks or Zombies. Just looked 'em up on AMG, and sure enough, they're from NYC.

Mick said...

Like the Warden I only knew Walk Away Renee and I agree with vlad that this is a beautiful song. It's stuff like this that keeps me coming back here.

ib said...

Thanks, Mick. The Left Banke have been something of an obsession with me for some time - featuring, too, in a guest post I put together for Art Decade before Siblingshot was born - so it's all too easy to forget that there are still people unacquainted with their stuff outwith the Temptations huge cover of "Walk Away Renée".

There is not one weak number on their debut LP, and for sheer value for money one should look no further than the comprehensive 26 track retrospective "There's Gonna Be A storm" which compiles everything from that LP; their second (recorded mostly without Mike Brown); and an outrageously fabulous 45 from 1969.

Beautiful and indispensable.

Charlemange's fan site - a labour of love - is a goldmine of information on not just their early years, but on the various solo endeavours well into the 70's. Thoroughly recommended.

Mick said...

Temptations? Must have been some parallel universe.

You caught me just as I was browsing Amazon wondering what to order. The cheapest I could find that retrospective was £35!! Now I'm on a quest to get it at a reasonable price.

ib said...

E-mail me.