Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Cover Song Wednesdays - James Last- 17 Apr 1929 to 9 Jun 2015

I encountered James Last on a hot summer evening when the townies were getting their groove on at some country club. By prior arrangement I was there to help with the equipment. And in case you're wondering, that's "Last rhymes with Lost" not "Last rhymes with fast". Deutsche, don't cha know.

James Last and his Orchestra were beyond camp. They took bright, poppy hits of their day and arranged them into even brighter, poppier orchestra arrangements that drew you into a "Get Happy" mode that just won't stop.

Your first impression on encountering a James Last track is "Oh no, I've bought a recording of elevator music!" But after listening to enough of his work, you realize that the musicians in this band are cats with some really great chops, man. Including muttonchops, by the 1970s. They're so "out there" they're orbital. Great arrangements, great players. Wall to wall camp.

But don't believe me. Listen to the YouTube of the great James Last...

Judy in Disguise (With Glasses). This song is a Buggles-style parody of the great Beatles song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. How hip is it? According to Wikipedia "Jello Biafra released a live version as part of his 2015 live album of New Orleans rock and soul covers, Walk on Jindal's Splinters."

Note: This clip goes on for an hour, so watch as little or as much as you want.

Non-Stop Dancing! Live in Berlin in 1982, non-stop medley of Can't Stop the Music, El Dorado and Xanadu.

For me this whole thing has such a Wes Anderson feel. The band is wearing random and vaguely matched outfits. "Blue, with piping - sure. You're in the horn section. Plum? Swing by strings".

Live At The Royal Albert Hall, London 1978
Hey- That's Star Wars a la disco...

Note: This clip goes on for an hour and a half, so watch as little or as much as you want.

Mamma Mia. James Last and ABBA. It's like a gold-plated black-velvet painting in a champagne fountain infinity pool. FYI the Saxophonist is Matthias Clasen.

Dancing Queen. James Last and ABBA. It's like a Rolls-Royce drenched in Nutella in a Louis Vuitton double-wide trailer home. FYI the Saxophonist is Matthias Clasen.

Orange Blossom Special. The whole show band on Ocean Drive in Miami. So Miami Vice. In 2001. That's PEAK James Last.

MacArthur Park. Are you frickin kidding me?! Have you even been listening to these tracks? James Last was born to orchestrate this cover. Jimmy Webb meets "Hansi" and kicks major butt at 5 minutes 40 seconds...

Derek Watkins on the melodic flugelhorn solo in the early part, and then switches to trumpet.

Live in Vienna 17th april 2013.

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