As lead singer of the Left Banke, Steve Martin was one of the finest upper-register male vocalists in rock history. Of a rather mysterious background (it's been written both that he was Spanish and that he was Puerto Rican), Martin met bassist Tom Finn in New York in the mid-'60s after a Rolling Stones concert. He, Finn, and George Cameron decided to start a band, getting a big lift when they were joined by keyboardist/composer Michael Brown. As the Left Banke, they had big hits in 1966 and 1967 with "Walk Away Renee" and "Pretty Ballerina." Martin was the most important member of the band bar Brown, for his ability to sing high and beautifully without breaking into a falsetto, both on the hits and overlooked Left Banke tracks such as "She May Call You Up Tonight" and "Shadows Breaking Over My Head." Martin could also sing forceful rock on occasion ("Evening Gown," "Lazy Day"), and co-wrote some of the Left Banke's better songs, including "She May Call You Up Tonight," "I've Got Something on My Mind," "Shadows Breaking Over My Head," and "Lazy Day." Michael Brown has praised Martin more than any other vocalist with whom the reclusive composer has worked.
The Left Banke broke up at the end of the '60s, recording most of their second album without Brown. Brown and Martin did reunite, though, for the mysterious 1969 single "Myrah"/"Pedestal." "Myrah," a Brown-Martin composition, may not feature any other past members of the Left Banke; Brown doesn't even play on the flipside. An unreleased track from that era, "Foggy Waterfall," with Martin on vocals, appears on the Rhino compilation The History of the Left Banke, and could essentially be a solo Steve Martin cut, since it (like "Pedestal") was not written by the band, and does not feature anyone else from the band playing on it. It's more a matter of discographical than musical interest, though; none of the three songs are that good.
Martin cut a little-known solo single, "Love Songs in the Night" and "Two by Two," for Buddah that was released in March 1971. Although credited to Martin alone, this was actually, in effect, a Left Banke reunion, featuring Brown, Finn, and Cameron on two Brown compositions. They are also quite decent Baroque pop songs that hold their own alongside the better '60s Left Banke recordings, with Martin in fine, delicate voice. For whatever reason, the project didn't go any further, under either Martin's or the Left Banke's name. Both sides of the single were reissued on The History of the Left Banke.
Martin later sang on a Michael Brown-less Left Banke reunion recording in the late '70s, eventually issued in the '80s as Strangers on a Train. The paucity of recordings Martin was involved in after the '60s is surprising, and qualifies him as one of the more underutilized lead singers in rock history. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi