The Left Banke produced two of the most enduring and bittersweet songs of the 1960s - "Walk Away Renee" and "Pretty Ballerina" - which have been covered by everyone from Rickie Lee Jones to Alice Cooper.
However, the group's impact goes far beyond its placement on the Billboard Top 20 charts. The band's pioneering use of classical string arrangements and lush vocal harmonies helped usher in the Baroque Pop movement, soon championed by The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Love, and Procol Harum. Interest in Left Banke's now-classic catalogue has continued to soar in the intervening decades, with the band's out-of-print albums trading for over $150 online, until Sundazed Records reissued Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina and The Left Banke Too in 2011 (selling over 15,000 units in the first months of release!). And the band's huge influence is apparent in the new Baroque Pop revival, exemplified by artists like Belle & Sebastian and Regina Spektor.
No longer able to resist the calls for a reunion, founding members Tom Finn and George Cameron have reformed The Left Banke for the band's first live performances since 1970. In order to recreate the unique sound of their past recordings, Finn and Cameron have assembled some of New York City's finest musicians, including long-time Left Banke collaborator Charly Cazalet on bass, Mike Fornatale on lead vocals and guitar, Paul Alves on guitar, Mickey Finn on keyboards, and the Grip Weeds' Rick Reil on drums, along with a small string section. The recent NYC-area reunion shows (including two sold-out nights at Joe's Pub and a holiday performance with NYU's All-University Choir) have generated a tremendous amount of buzz among music journalists and fan-sites, and the band is now gearing up to actively tour throughout 2012!
"Left Banke at Joe's Pub: utterly transcendent ... Starting with 'She May Call You Up Tonight,' 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."
-The Huffington Post, March 2011
"That they played the exquisite 'Pretty Ballerina' (which Finn said is now overtaking 'Walk Away Renee' as the most popular Left Banke song) third tune into the set, was fine, since lesser known singles like "Desiree" - which was a minor hit - and "Sing Little Bird Sing" were no less breathtaking.
-Jim Bessman, Examiner.com, November 2011
"Reconstituted, The Left Banke at the Drom had nine people on stage, to deliver a Phil Spector-like wall of sound to replicate the baroque rock aural sheen that permeated its vintage records."
- Rock's Back Pages, November 2011
Saturday Beatles Brunch