Was he the Eurotrash version of Lawrence Welk? "Electric Light Orchestra" for guys in polyester underwear with outrageous sideburns, limp flat long hair and Gouda breath? Or "Blood Sweat and Abba" for guys in Gouda underwear, with polyester sideburns and limp dicks?
James Last (born Hans Last) preferred to call his zunshine music "happy party sounds." But the same could be said of belches and farts. But before more snarky comments can be made, "let's say something nice about Hans." OK: Billboard called him "the world's most commercially successful bandleader," for recording an astonishing 200 albums that sold — well, that's the most incredible part. They sold.
Even Billboard had to admit it was music familiar to "anyone who has spent time in a hotel lobby or elevator." Put it this way, he had enough money to NOT live in his native Germany, or in the God-forsaken flat, depressing Ass-country (Netherlands). He died in Florida, U.S.A., as far from the Europeans who adored him as he could possibly get.
Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass pioneered a genial, buttery horn sound, and Al Hirt put out albums "Honey in the Horn" and "That Honey Horn Sound." Last's bunch merely turned every possible piece of music into musical mucus, coating the ears and mind with a soothing glaze. It went beyond Bacharach, Hefti, or Buddy Morrow, purveyors and often the composers of legit "pop." Last is to music what lobotomy is to the brain.
To be fair (!) Last was no cynical commercial pap-smearer, but Nurse Ratched medicating the depressed. James led his garish group of Mens Wearhouse dropouts as they dazzled eyes with the glint off their trombones, saxes and trumpets. Thus hypnotized, the pounding percussion and the smell of horn-breath did the rest, putting people at rest, if not completely comatose.
Last's cheesy-listening music remains hugely popular at blogs aimed at flaccid Dutchmen, Swedish meatball-heads and the Zippyshare Uber Alles group of Zinfarts. "More, James Last," comes the cry, "I don't have EVERY album yet on my 2TB drive! But I don't want to buy any of it! Ach, too bad he moved to Florida. To think our grandparents nearly won the war and could've taken over America!"
Ah, Mr. Last. Herb Aspirin and the Sominex Brass. Acker Bilge. Something oozing out of the The Boston Pimple Pops. Last made Percy Faith seem like Percy Sledge. Whatever it was, it was narcotic, and after an evening of stealing music, eating a lot of cheese, posting moronic shit in blog shout boxes, and checking forums for bukkake starring an Adele look-alike, a few hours of James Last's stuff was far less challenging than Tchaikovsky or five minutes jogging on a treadmill.
While Ray Conniff disappeared around the same time people realized "Love Story" was the worst piece of crap ever recorded, James Last continued on with his Eurovision of music that was actually better seen than heard. That's EuroVISION…you can turn the sound off and still get that vibe of happy people dancing even if it looks like their feet are nailed to the floor.
Year after year, Last's record label had to forage for more raw vinyl. They cannibalized naugahyde seat covers and "gummi" underwear from the grandchildren of Nazis, especially those hiding in Holland. Last kept making more albums, and his label sent people out to pry licorice gum off the bottom of bus stop benches and shovel coagulated dog shit found at boot sales. Last still wouldn't stop making new albums, "popping" the classics, softening up rock songs, and running every movie theme through his oiled brassworks. His band gimped disco hits, and even made "happy" music out of marches. Oh, they were the finest musicians ever to play cruise ships and thankful for the steadier, if more sea-sick work with James.
Maybe now it's time to "say something else nice about Hansi." He's not making any more albums. But, all seriousness aside, it isn't being condescending to say that the people who like this guy's music also consider Burger King, KFC and Applebees to be fine dining. Put fat and sugar on anything you cook, and pipe in easy-beat big-band music, and you are not likely to lose money. Who doesn't like a Domino's pizza if one has been starving for several days? And really, Last's version of "Slaughter on 10th Avenue" would give Arthur Fiedler an erection. And he died in 1979, before the great 80's plague of bad music would've put a cancer in his eardrum and blackened his brain.
To yet another nice thing about Hans's music, you could tap your cane to it. It was a good laxative, too. 60's folks moving from middle-age to Alzheimer's liked The Brass Ring. From the 70's on, James Last provided easy listening to tired businessmen unable to cope with anything else, and unsophisticated jellyfish needing something to wobble to. He gave totally uncool dimwits from Holland, beak-faced Swedes, ruddy neo-Nazis, belching Belgies and sticky-bunned Danish people the illusion that they were music lovers.
Lastly, one might point to Hansi's big band versions of rock songs as proof that he could make anything "HAPPY." Below, James and his gang boil up some aural goo on the kettle drum, and use their flatulent brass holes to blow the roof off the dump, dumping sweet treacle on Alice Cooper's venemous "School's Out." Think Alice wasn't happy about this? He cashed a royalty check.
James "Don't Call Me Hans, It's a Stupid Name" Last SCHOOL'S OUT!