Wednesday, June 10, 2015

RIP James Last

Farewell James Last at 86, purveyor of Happy Music to millions of retired couples the world over. He sold somewhere in the region of 200 million records and had 65 albums in the UK charts alone, including Gentleman of Music, Best of Kapt'n James and Non Stop Dancing 8. And when he wasn't recording he was touring, playing 90 concerts in the Royal Albert Hall alone. 
I saw one of those, in 1985. It was an extraordinary evening. Here's a fragment of my review in Sounds: 
Thrill to the sound of The Police reduced (?) to supermarket pulp, swoon to a couple of smulchy Lionel Richie hits, gasp as they massacre Debussy's Clair de Lune, wonder what he's saying between numbers.
It's like a drug. Everything, but everything, has a beat. During the 'slow, romantic' ones couples hold hands and the woman next to me dabs her eye with a handkerchief. Then in comes a 'fast, happy one' and people are dancing in the aisles, clapping meticulously in time […] 
'The Long and Winding Road' produced lumps in throats. 'Two Tribes' was hilarious, Horn on helium. It's all too much for a cynical young hack - an evening beyond criticism, a sub-culture. I will, of course, deny that I stood up and clapped along to 'Wake Me Up Before You Go Go'. It just didn't happen.

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