Monday, June 22, 2015


It´s time to say something about my second favorite band in the world – THE LAST. The Last are power pop band from LA, California, led by singer/guitarist/songwriter Joe Nolte. Joe and his brother Mike Nolte (back vocals, keyboards and occasional songwriting) have been the only constant members (more Joe than Mike) of the band since the mid 70´s when The Last was formed. Even though that The Last weren´t playing classic punk rock or hardcore punk, they were a part of the same scene that launched such bands as Black Flag, Descendents, Middle Class, Circle Jerks, Red Kross, The Germs and many more early LA hc/punk bands. The third Nolte brother, David who played bass in The Last from the beginning until October 1981. was actually in the original line up of Descendents in late 70´s before their seminal vocalist Milo Aukerman joined the band. So, you have probably heard of Descendents, but not The Last? Well, The Last was the band who influenced Descendents sound a lot, if there weren´t of the 60´s surf power pop influenced sound of The Last, there wouldn´t be the Descendents and pop punk sound as we know it today. Of course, in UK there were Buzzcocks, who were also pop punk pioneers of the late 70´s but, as Bill Stevenson (the drummer of Descendents/ALL/Black Flag/Only Crime) said in one interview, they (Descendents members) didn´t discovered Buzzcocks until much later, so Buzzcocks couldn´t actually influence their sound, it was The Last (plus Ramones and some early LA hc/punk bands) that influenced the sound of Descendents. So, now that you know this crucial fact, we can continue. 

Probably the most known and loved The Last album is their first one L. A. Explosion! that was recorded and released in 1979. by legendary L. A. garage/surf/power pop label Bomp! Records. I agree that this is probably the album that represent the best classic sound of The Last and I love that album so much but, my favorite The Last album is actually their second album (or the third if you count Look Again, unofficially never released album from 1980.) – Painting  Smiles On A Dead Man (such a great title!) from 1983. And that is what you will get in this post plus some more The Last surprises. Actually, this album wasn´t a proper album, but more of a collection of their demos from October 1981. to March 1983. And when the album was released in 1983. by French garage/surf/power pop record label – Lolita Records, the band was already defunct until they reunited in 1987. So, it was definitelly not a typical album and even Joe Nolte said in the album liner notes on The Last website ( - which you should definitely check out if you wanna know more about the band and if you want to read more in depth notes by Joe about every single song they recorded), that he don´t like most of the songs on this album. I´m not sure why Joe doesn´t like these songs because I fucking love this album, I could literally listen to it every day (and I listen to it few times a week) without being bored for one second. So, let´s talk more about this great album. First some tehnical details. Most of the songs (1, 3, 6 to 12) on the album were recorded in Radio Tokyo studios, from late September 1981. to March 1982.

The line up was:
Joe Nolte – Vocals & guitar
David Nolte – Bass
Vitus Matare – Keyboards, flute & back vocals
John Frank - Drums
David left the band right after he recorded bass tracks in October of 1981. and of those mentioned songs, above, he only didn´t play on Everybody Had It With You (John Rosewall played bass on this one). Songs 2 & 4 were recorded in November 1982. and song 5, which is a cover song of Louie Louie was recorded live on 8 track at Lyceum in March 1983..

So, on the songs: 2, 4 & 5, the line up was:
Joe Nolte – Vocals & guitar
John Rosewell – Bass & back vocals
Steve Andrews – Guitar
Vitus Matare – Keyboards, flute & back vocals
John Frank – Drums

After the Louie Louie recording, Steve and John Frank left the band. To make things more confusing, 3 songs from the album were already released in 1982. as a 7 ˝ EP „Up In The Air“ on Warfrat Gramophon Records with title song plus Wrong Turn & Leper Colony songs. When you put it that way, it did seems that this LP is a collection of demos and one previously released EP, but to me it sounds like a proper album, from first to last song. While the first Last album, L. A. Explosion! was more based on surf pop sound, this album have a lot more going on in my opinion. It wasn´t that much Beach Boys influenced and there si definitely more of that LA darker punk sound (few songs remind me on Rikk Agnew – All By Myself LP). Also, the production is much better than on L. A. Explosion! which has a very clean sound. I´m not gonna ramble anymore about the songs, because I love them all and you can read more about those songs here: as I´ve already mentioned earlier. So, if you haven´t heard this excellent and underrated album, give it a try!
The Snake

No comments:

Post a Comment