Pop/Rock, Psychedelic, Baroque Pop, Psychedelic Pop, Sunshine Pop, AM Pop

Album Review

The Left Banke had been together for less than a year when their debut single, "Walk Away Renee," became a hit, and once the band began touring steadily, they started to fracture as Michael Brown, the group's 17-year-old wunderkind, songwriter, and pianist, decided he didn't care for life on the road. By the time the Left Banke cut their second album, Brown was out of the picture, as was producer and arranger Henry Lookofsky (he was also Brown's dad), and the lineup was down to a trio: vocalist Steve Martin-Caro, guitarist/bassist Tom Finn, and drummer George Cameron. Not promising circumstances for the creation of The Left Banke Too, but surprisingly it's a fine album that shows the group's second string had plenty of talent and a sound creative vision. The album's tone differs from the debut, with fewer songs as mysterious as the lovelorn "Walk Away Renee" and "Pretty Ballerina," and a production that sounds more like intelligent sunshine pop than the leaner Baroque vision of its precursor. But with the help of outside songwriter Tom Feher, the remaining members came up with some impressive material, including the lush psychedelic pop of "There's Gonna Be a Storm" and "My Friend Today," the engaging uptempo rocker "Goodbye Holly," and a witty tale of low-budget rock star decadence, "Bryant Hotel," which features some rollicking piano and a wailing vocal from Cameron. (He and Finn both stepped up for lead vocal spots on the album, with impressive results.) Brown reconciled with his bandmates long enough to write and produce a single, and both sides were included on Left Banke Too, with "Desiree" sounding like a grander variation on the tone of the first LP. The single was a flop, and none of the songs from The Left Banke Too fared any better, but even though it proved the be the band's swan song, it's a great pop album that confirms Michael Brown wasn't the only gifted songwriter in the group. (Two songs on the album feature backing vocals from one Steve Tallarico, who several years later would tie a scarf to his mike stand, change his name to Steven Tyler, and become the lead singer with Aerosmith.)
Mark Deming, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Goodbye Holly
  2. There's Gonna Be a Storm
  3. Sing Little Bird Sing
  4. Nice to See You
  5. Give the Man a Hand
  6. Bryant Hotel
  7. Desirée
  8. Dark Is the Bark
  9. In the Morning Light
  10. My Friend Today