REVIEWS 1988

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CMJ New Music Report | (unknown) | New Music Daily News | Daily Breeze
Rick Reger | L.A. Rock | Jersy Beat 1 | Jersey Beat 2 | Record-Journal
Phfudd #13 | File 13 #2 | Sheet Metal #4
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from: CMJ New Music Report
July 1

JACKPOT! PLUS

THE LAST Confession (SST) — After the dust had long since settled from the L.A. Explosion, those SoCal dudes have popped back into our hearts 12 years after the brothers Nolte decided it would be a good idea to start a band, and fortunately they've remembered why The Last was such a good idea in the first place. By Joe Nolte's own admission, The Last had, after their excellent debut LP, bowed to the pressure to tidy up their sound, a mistake which led to their demise in 1985. After sitting around a while, the brothers got bored, rallied some new members, and lo and behold: Confession picks up right back where they started, on the trail of '60s retro-pop, sounding just as fun as when the originals did it on Top Of The Pops and Hullaballoo 23 years ago. Like their English counterparts the Barracudas, they take the freshness, bouncy melodies and smooth harmonies characteristic of surf and English mid-'60s groups, and then they inject a more now-ish crunch and speed. Then again, on occasion they also travel a line streched tight between The Jam and Shoes, and sometimes Boyce & Hart, and sometimes maybe . . . well, you get the idea. Well-crafted but not overproduced, the songs have a bite but never snarl. Total shindiggers include "So Quick To Say," "Going Gone," "It Isn't Really You," and "Book."

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from: (source unknown)
July 14

CLUB DATES — THE NIGHT SHIFT CAFÉ 7/19/88 THRU 7/24/88

Thursday, July 21 — The Night Shift presents The Connecticut New Music Seminar featuring three cool groups. First off the band who inspired the Descendents, possibly the most cult band in the U.S. today, hot on the heels of their fresh SST album "confession", from Redondo Beach CA (sort of LA) The Last. Formed by brothers Joe and Mike Nolte, the Last have been together in one form or another since 1976, and were significant in initiating the LA punk and post punk scene. With the release of the new record and current line-up maybe now they'll get the attention of an audience they justly deserve.

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from: New Music Daily News
July 19

PLAYING TONIGHT — TUESDAY JULY 19

CBGB'S — 315 Bowery — SST — The Last: The Last are not necessarily the least. In fact, the band (or fragments thereof) has been floating around since 1976, writing songs, recruiting members and living in an abandoned church with members of Black Flag and Red Cross. What else can be done with sociopathic, potentially homicidal tendencies? The first Last album was cut in 1979 and the band spent 1980 near the top of the Los Angeles club scene. Unfortunately, after fluttering around L.A. with less motivation than a senile moth for five years the Last flew to a halt in 1985, leaving in its wake six drummers, three keyboardists, two dead bass players and 180 unusable amps. The Last had staying power, however, and found a home on SST Records. Bandmembers are Joe Nolte, Mike Nolte, Luke Lohnes, Dave Nazworthy, and Larry Manke.

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from: The Daily Breeze Entertainer
July 22

THE LAST MAY BE FIRST IF 'CONFESSION' GETS HEARD

It hardly seems possible that more than a decade has passed since The Last released "She Don't Know Why I'm Here," a roaring rocker that came out during the wildest days of the Los Angeles punk-rock scene. I've admired the South Bay band ever since, through two albums and a mini-LP, a handful of superb singles, and a slew of personnel changes.
"Confession" is the first Last album in years, since 1983's French-only "Painting Smiles on a Dead Man," but the band has lost none of its intensity. Leader Joe Nolte's slashing lead guitar style remains the spark behind the band's stripped-down sound, which happily has remained impervious to current trends.
Nolte's distinctive vocals vary in mood from the edgy growl of "It Isn't Really You" to the tenderness of the acoustic "Confession." Nolte, who (along with brother Mike) writes most of the band's material, hasn't lost his ear for great pop hooks, as songs such as "Going Gone" illustrate.
Recorded at Third Wave Recording Studio in Torrance, "Confession" was produced by Bill Stevenson of All (formerly the Descendents), who claims The Last as one of his early major influences. Stevenson's production is solid, although it still fails to capture the excitement that the band is capable of generating live.
As one of the best bands ever to call the South Bay home, The Last deserve a better fate than to toil in obscurity. Here's hoping that the excellent "Confession" will help bring its music to a wider audience.

Sam Gnerre

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from: (source unknown — provided by SST)
July/August

THE LAST — CONFESSION LP

Speaking of SST, they're putting out a lot of records lately and covering a lot of turf, stylistically speaking. Naturally, I've heard people saying, "Like, man, SST's putting out a lot of shit lately." Yeah, like, they're into this VARIETY thing, man. How bogus! Gee, remember the days when you didn't have to buy a record on SST 'cause you knew what it would sound like simply because it was SST product? Well, Confessions is the first pop record I think I've heard on SST. That's right, pop music. And it RULES! A strong Sixties/British Invasion influence liberally blended with a post-punk hard-pop sound. Like the result of the Searchers and the Descendents being stuck in the same lifeboat for a month or two. Great guitar work. Beautiful vocals. Lots of harmonizing. Incredible. Make sure you're the first one to mention this record around school come September. And about slagging SST — only a true gooberhead knocks somebody for succeeding where so many others haven't even bothered to try.

Rick Reger

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from: L. A. Rock
September 16

THE LAST AT CLUB LINGERIE

Back in '81 or '82, you could cruise down to Redondo, go to a party and hear some bands that are now a seminal part of today's music scene — Leaving Trains, The Urinals who became 100 Flowers who became Radwaste, To Damascus who became Sylvia Juncosa, David Roback and Kendra Smith (Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade, Opal) all playing at a little house by the beach. There in dwelt The Last, the alchemical midwives of the burgeoning psychedelic smorgasbord.


The Last etherised for several years. But now with their chart climbing SST LP "Confession" and demonstrative stage show, The Last are luring new loves and old flames into the fold.


Don't be taken in by my retroactive reminences; The Last at the Lingerie were as crisp as that first apple in the Garden of Eden. The elusive melodies and haunting harmonies are as intricate as a gothic wedding cake, the lyrics as sharp as a switch blade. I was swung back into the textured past, spun forward into the mysterious future. The Last shall be first, and I can't wait to be there to see it.

Lisa Derrick

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from: Jersy Beat #35
October

NEW MUSIC SEMINAR REPORT

SATURDAY, JULY 15 — Bailter Space / Bats / The Last, Maxwells — The 2 New Zealand bands on the top of the bill were as gamey and third-rate as New Zealand Lamb, playing warmed-over Amerindie rock/pop without an original idea between them. Bailter Space — generic Gerardmetal distorto/grunge sludgecore, the Bats sticky-sweet college-radio pop/slop. The Last, reborn after a few years hiatus, were plagued by the usual Maxwells Mix from Hell, so the Beatlesque harmonies of their new LP were lost in the aether. But they rocked nonetheless through a tough, tight set of new songs, and then played two from 1979's L. A. Explosion lp that had me & Jack Rabid turning cartwheels. Really. You shoulda been there.

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from: Jersy Beat #35
October

SHORT TAKES

THE LAST "Confession" (SST) — As much as I cherish my well-worn copy of L. A. Explosion (circa 1979 although the material dates back a year or two before that, the birth of the whole 60's Revival qua Pop qua Punk Rock thing in L. A. that ultimately gave us the Bangles, 3 O'Clock, Dream Syndicate, etc etc etc) and while I certainly applaud the Brothers Nolte in their attempted comback at this late date ("take a look around and you'll see what is real / it never could have been 10 years ago" they wrote . . . ten years or so ago), I find this LP too lightweight, too overstuffed with Beatlesque harmonies, what is it with the Beatles references on this record anyway? Ten years ago they defined their pop moves from a perspective that hovered over Hawthorne, CA (home of the Beach Boys & surf music's birthplace, - more or less) like the cheery cherry psychedelic balloon in "Up Up And Away." Still there's about 8 or 9 tons more "popcraft" at work here than on, say, the db's Sound Of Music or anything on FM Radio so maybe we should just be glad they're back and wait for Comeback LP #2, ok?

J. Testa

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from: Record-Journal, Meriden, Conn.
December 24-25

ROCK TOP 10

8. THE LAST: CONFESSION — SST Records


With roots twisting back to 1976, the Last from Los Angeles found a way in 1988 to put pure pop joy into every note they played. Confession was a non-stop, start-to-finish rave up, featuring bright, melodic two-, three- and four-part harmonies riding atop crystalline guitars and a fast-forward rhythm section.


OK, so it jangled, and we all know that jangle is passe, but the Last did it without a hint of self-consciousness.


The Last songs are written primarily by guitarist Joe Nolte and occasionally by his keyboardist brother, Mike. Their lyrics were not always as pretty as the instrumental packaging. Death was a big theme, as was lost love, but in the end all the songs were about searching for salvation.


The best cut among so many good ones on Confession was "Going Gone," a song about those special times in life when you fall madly in love on a subway or waiting in line for a MacBurger.


"The greatest love I ever had / Was over before it ever began," concluded the lead singer with sadness in his voice after leading listeners through a description of the momentary relationship.


A quick and pleasing record, Confession was 1988 garage rock at its best.

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from: PHFUDD #13
The Last — CONFESSION (SST) — I remember hearing 'bout these guys back in '79 and marveled at the fact they were a mod take on six-oh scree... later heard about their associations w/then-cool Redd Kross, Black Flag and the Urinals but gave 'em up fr dead until I read about the Los Angeles psychedelic renaissance in BUCKET FULL OF BRAINS during the summer of '83. After that... nothing again, until this arrived in the mail. Having taken them fr naught all this time I was surprised, tho not elated or anything because the stuff I did hear from the Last (a few shards besides their Bomp! EP from '82) really wasn't that exhilarating. More or less dreary takes on LA late-sixties attack (Lollipop Shoppe, Seeds...) if you're living (barely), but this new one shows a more varied side to the band. Haven't heard their famed death of the garage band thing from '80, and gotta say that part of this still suffers from some sorta barbituate OD, but on the whole this does surprise the wary, from the Raspberries-ish early '70's pop-rock of "Book" to the introspective intellectual tone throughout. While this ain't en toto pop masterpiece scree it does hold up and more-n a few moments make fr hot Californian post-Anglo pop.
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from: FILE 13 #2

Last — Confession (SST) — The Last harken back to the garage days of the 60's, and do it better than most. Confession's first two tracks, "So Quick to Say" and "Another Side," deserve to be hits in any decade, with energetic guitar strumming and a punchy drum sound. And most of all, they're just damn good songs. But while "And They Laugh" features nice vocal harmonies and Byrds-like six-string, the other songs on this LP don't measure up.

[Joe's notes: One assumes they meant "Byrds-like 12 string" . . .]

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from: Sheet Metal #4
"YOU'RE GONNA REVIEW THE LAST IN SHEET METAL?!!" Ex Black Flagger Chuck Dukowski howled at me o'er the phone. Duke's been convinced I'm insane for some time now, but I don't see what's so nuts about reviewin' "Confession" (SST), the new reunion LP from L. A. punk pioneers The Last, in a metal mag. It's a great fuckin' record. Where they once bowed 'fore Iggy's altar, now they careen along a jangly path like a supercharged Byrds with steroid-pumped Rickenbackers. Joe Nolte's quirky-herky-jerky vocalizin's certainly enough to yank this from cutesy '60's revoism, but tunes like "Going Gone" would be the tits in any era. The sorta pop spoot ya don't feel guilty about takin' home to yer slime-covered Bang and Olufson.