Trust Me #27 - Walk Away Renee by The Left Banke
Cover version of the month #69 The Four Tops cover The Left Banke
Just imagine being a teenager in 1965 and forming a band with your friends. Countless kids around the world, were doing it, inspired by the likes of The Beatles and The Stones. Picking up guitars and seeing what wonderful noises they could create.
16-year old Michael Brown (real name Lookofsky) didn't quite pick up a guitar, he played keyboards and he also wrote songs. As son of violinist and arranger Harry Lookofsky, it was clear from the off that he had a remarkable talent for music, helped by unlimited access to his Dad's studio.
Brown formed a band with George Cameron (drums), bass player and singer Tom Finn, Steve Martin Caro on lead vocals an Jeff Winfield on guitar. They called themselves The Left Banke. They never really had a settled line-up, partly because even in his teens - Brown wanted to follow Brian Wilson's lead and stay at home to write while his band went on the road - they weren't up for it! By the time they put their differences behind them, momentum and label confidence had been lost. And so The Left Banke have a small but perfectly formed discography.
Released in July 1966, Walk Away Renee is one of a number of songs Brown wrote about Renee Fladen-Kamm, then the girlfriend of his friend and band mate, Tom Finn. Amazingly, Fladen-Kamm was at the recording of the single, Brown had to wait for her to leave in order to play his parts.
In just 2-minutes and 46 seconds, The Left Banke produce heart aching pop music of the highest quality. Everything tugs on heart strings. At the age of just 18, Steve Martin Caro has no God given right to sound so beautifully heart broken, while the strings, harpsichord and flute are utterly perfect, giving a sense of maturity to this band of teenagers.
The poetic lyrics speak of empty sidewalks, where perhaps lovers once walked, of tears, of pain, rain, names in a heart drawn on the wall, of being haunted and of a realisation that the writer can't follow Renee, it's not to be.
Astounding, outstanding, magical.
Their version was released in 1968 and you don't get a much higher stamp of approval than a cover by one of Motown Records finest groups, particularly as it remains very true to the original. For me, there is more hurt and heartache in Levi Stubbs vocals in comparison to the original, the beat is classic Motown.
This might be the only time in my cover version of the month feature (so far) where I think the original and the cover version are both equally amazing.
You can listen to all the songs I've featured in my Trust Me series in a playlist by searching for Everything Flows Trust Me on Spotify or by CLICKING HERE You can also read about the previous songs I've written about by clicking on the links below.
Also check below for a full list of songs to feature in my cover version of the month blogs. You can also search for Everything Flows Cool Cover Versions for my Spotify playlist or CLICK HERE.
Previous Trust Me blogs
Previous covers of the month
40. Jumpin' Jack Flash
44. Witchi Tai To
45. Our Lips Are Sealed
46. Sunshine Of Your Love
47. Here Comes The Sun
48. I Think We're Alone Now
49. Don't Let Me Down
50. It's Oh So Quiet
52. Summer Holiday
53. Who Do You Think You Are?
54. Head On
55. Nothing Compares 2 U