Gentleman Of Music
Last was never one of those hip '60s lounge era acts that
appeared on my radar, other than hearing his name here
and there in passing. But back in the day, Last gained
notoriety by updating the big band sound with brass and
bass heavy arrangements of modern popular tunes, and in
the end, he revolutionized pop music and paved the way
for disco and dance-mix eras.
Of Music (Eagle Records), a 2-CD set featuring 33
tracks all recorded live in concert in 2001, is strangely
appealing, piquing your curiosity in the same as a car
wreck by the side of the road. This is the ultimate in
easy-listening music arrangements that would undoubtedly
be great fun at a lounge party. Last still fills theaters
to capacity in Europe and his native Germany with his
Orchestra and Choir, the latter of which are hardly your
typical group of choral singers. Often, they sound more
like a band of 20 people "La-La-La-ing" the
melody of the songs while pounding Stines full of Lager.
of Last's arrangement have that Bavarian feel, which only
adds interest to his ultra-lite renditions of "String
of Pearls/In the Mood," "Hip-Hop Polka,"
"My Heart Will Go On (Titanic Theme)," the Beatles'
"Can't buy Me Love Medley" and even Cher's "Believe."
work of James Last, the German equivalent of Percy Faith
and Billy May, has spanned almost 50 years, and there
are numerous recordings to consider. While many are now
out of print, Gentleman of Music is a good representation
of his work. You'll either cringe at the sound or be drawn
in out of curiosity to marvel at how easy-listening lounge
music can take on such full-bodied sound.