The Big Takeover | Daily Breeze/News-Pilot | Los Angeles Reader
from: The Big Takeover #39

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The first LP in seven years by this underappreciated L.A. quintet resembles Confession (1988) and Awakening (1989). It's still not as good as their exceptional L.A. Explosion (1979), the unreleased Look Again (1980) — Hey SST! Issue this! — and French import Painting Smiles on a Dead Man (1983), yet it's miles better than 99% of today's guitar pop. Singer/guitarist/songwriter JOE NOLTE perfected this style two decades before it became cool, and shows no signs of having misplaced anything during the layoff. The music is crisp, the lyrics astute (no one is immune to the uncomfortable "It's Not That Way," where the singer is paralyzed by fear on how to turn a platonic relationship into a physical one). Add brother MIKE NOLTE, still rounding out the effortless, trademark Nolte harmonies, and a broader palette, and Gin makes six for six. On the minus side, a few lesser tracks could have been edited, but on the plus side, sympathetic producer EARLE MANKEY, a paisley underground legend, is more versatile than DESCENDENTS/ALL drummer BILL STEVENSON, who did the last two. Mankey mines a deeper bass sound and lovelier shimmer for the pretty tracks, which hearken back to their vintage brilliance, "Sirens," "Song/Unordinary Substance," and "You Won't Win." Give The Last a chance if it's the last thing you do.

from: The Daily Breeze/News-Pilot (Torrance, CA) RAVE! section
May 31

"Gin & Innuendoes"

From right under our noses, one of the South Bay's longest-lived and most criminally underappreciated bands — The Last — have re-emerged with one of the year's best records.

The Last have been around in one form or another since the mid-1970s. Its ever-shifting lineups always have included the Nolte brothers: Joe on lead guitar and vocals, Mike on keyboards and backing vocals and David on bass.

David left the band some years ago and went on to play with Wednesday Week, followed by his current work with Maria McKee, british songwriter David Gray and his own fine band Lucky.

The other two brothers have carried on the group; "Gin & Innuendoes" is the band's first release since 1989's "Awakening" (also on SST).

Longtime L.A. producer Earle Mankey not only has captured the explosive dynamics the band has always shown live, but also has given them a fuller, more powerful sound than on prior recordings.

Track after track bristles with melodicism and drive, from the crackling, rockabilly-influenced "Sleep" with its dizzying guitar runs, to the hypnotic, dreamlike "Sirens" and the irresistibly catchy rocker "You Won't Win."

Guest Kristi Callan from Lucky causes "The Time Is Gone" to blossom from a typically intense ballad into a vibrant, harmony-filled tune with her glowing vocal halfway through the track.

"Gin & Innuendoes" has everything it takes to make a first-rate rock 'n' roll record: strong musicianship and production values, memorable songs filled with melodic hooks and — most important of all — passion.

—Sam Gnerre, Staff Writer

Rating: * * * * SST
from: The Los Angeles Reader (now defunct)
June 28

The Last "Gin & Innuendoes"

I hesitate to use the word "mature" when writing about records — it's the adjective rock scribes seem most likely to choose when grasping for something to recommend, say, Peter Himmelman's latest yawnfest — but The Last's new Gin & Innuendoes (SST) undeniably qualifies as such. Those picking it up based solely on the band's vaguely "punk" reputation might be a little unsettled by the deep emotional issues at the roots of "It's Not That Way" and "The Time Is Gone", the almost Celtic melodies of "Drywood Town" and "7-21", or the way that "Song/Unordinary Substance" bridges the not-as-wide-as-you'd-imagine gap between Television and Thin Lizzy. But me? I love it; hope that doesn't mean I'm getting old,

...or something.

Dan Epstein