Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Last - LA Explosion

One of the pioneering bands of the LA garage rock scene, the Last combined power-pop with punk and garage to form their own, haunting sound. Led by Joe Nolte (lead vocals/guitar) and his brothers Mike (harmony vocals) and David (bass) along with keyboardist Vitus Matare and Jack Reynolds on drums. They were a terrific live band that captured the punk ethos while blasting out highly melodic, well-written tunes. This was their debut record for Bomp! after the self-release of three singles.

Joe's 12-string Rickenbacker leads off "She Don't Know Why I'm Here", which, along with the Voxx (I think) keyboard and genetic harmonies, gives the Last their unique sound. "This Kind of Feeling" is a more mid-tempo, 60's pop tune, They're a little more frantic, but no less harmony-driven in "Bombing of London", they take a dig at the "norms" in "Century City Rag" and the punkier "Walk Like Me" and then give us an almost new-wavey, bouncy piss-take at day jobs in "Slavedriver". "Every Summer Day" is damn near an update of the Beach Boys - incredibly catchy remembrance of the 60's - while "The Rack" starts off ominously but becomes a short, peppy pop tune that segues directly in "Objections", with its nice use of dynamics and 12-string/organ interaction. Vitus' flute gives an almost medieval feel to the intro of "A Fool Like You" before it becomes a powerful punk-rocker. "Someone's Laughing" is a 12-string, 60's-styled ballad (with more flute-work), "I Don't Wanna Be In Love" is a pissed-off punker, and they create one of the most unique cover tunes with their Modern Lover-esque, gloomy version of "Be Bop a Lula" of all things! Bizarre, but I love it! Joe gives an exceptionally cool guitar solo here (he is a great player) as well as a raw, primal scream. One of Joe's best melodies and arrangements occur in "Looking At You" (nothing to do with the MC5 song) and they close with a reprise of "The Rack".

In the late 70's/early 80's, the Last were one of the first and one of the best of the 60's revival bands - not that they were ever strict revivalists. They certainly influenced many of the bands to follow and have continued their career over the decades, though Joe's current health issues seems to have put the band at least into a hiatus. Best to this talented man, and pick up their records as a testament to what can be accomplished when you're not afraid to mix things up a bit!