The Left Banke: Clavinet ’67

A big breakthrough in Zero to 180’s lifelong quest to identify the “first clavinet recording Michael Brown plays a Hohner clavinet on “Let Go of You Girl” from The Left Banke’s debut album, released February, 1967 (i.e., 2 months before John Sebastian’s “6 O’Clock“):

“Let Go of You Girl”     The Left Banke     1967

Steve MartinCaro:  Lead vocal
Tom Finn & George Cameron:  Harmony vocal
Tom Finn:  Bass
George Cameron:  Drums
Rick Brand:  Guitar
Michael Brown:  Hohner Clavinet

What’s interesting is that this information would not come to light until 2011, when Sundazed included very detailed credits in its CD ‘gatefold digipak’ reissue.  The credits for the original 1967 LP, by comparison, make no mention of the clavinet.

Left Banke LP

Just for a laugh, go back to those “detailed credits” above and note the choice of keyboard played by Michael Brown on the very next track — that’s right, an electric harpsichord!

But alack and alas, those fine folks at Sundazed confirm that Michael Brown, indeed, was privileged to have had the opportunity to test drive a “pre-release” Clavinet:

“The strain of the road weighed heaviest on the mercurial Michael Brown, who eventually opted out of the Left Banke’s touring lineup; his place was filled by Emmett Lake.  ‘Being on the road was hard for Mike,’ says [Tom] Finn.  ‘He had the first prototype of the Clavinet on the road, and it sounded great.  But it went out of tune very easily, and that became a nightmare for him.  We’d throw it in the back of a U-Haul trailer, and by the time we got to the gig it sounded horrible.’”

Clavinet

Left Banke fans are willing to pay more than $200 for the original debut album on vinyl in glorious monophonic sound – with one person in the UK who would dole out £278 ($441).

Is this really the end of Zero to 180’s clavinet history quest?