Saturday, December 24, 2005

Legends. James Last. (BBC4)

I don't remember ever seeing my dad listen to music. There were a couple of Beatles singles in the house, a couple of Stan Freberg 78s. Then in the seventies, some James Last LPs. But I don't remember him ever listening to anything.

Music was my preserve. It was MY music centre in the corner of the living room where I could put on my headphones, close my eyes and escape. I even tried listening to a James Last LP. All I can remember is applause and whooping, then the Simon and Garfunkel song Cecilia played by about 1,000 instruments, then more applause and whooping.

I remember this correctly as this is the James Last formula: a string of popular songs knotted together by a pissed audience having a GOOD TIME.

James, or Hansi as he's known by his fans and family, is the second biggest selling artist after Elvis. He's recorded over 100 LPs. He gets the best musicians to work for him and he treats them well. He's no James Brown.


Paul Morley says that James Last music is music for people who don't like music. They take a holiday in popular music, get to hear it in bite sized chunks, each and every one of them believing that Hansi is the genuis, the great creator.

I don't think so. What nails Hansi's appeal for me is when Malcolm Laycock says his stuff's a fresh take on Big Band Music. I know that my dad was a big Big Band fan. He would stand at the front at a Ted Heath show, drink plenty of beer and nod his head like a chicken. Like Big Hansi, Big Band was big and loud and brassy with simple melodies, perfect drinking music. And you'd certainly need to be pissed to enjoy James Last.

Nowhere in this documentary however, is German Oompah music mentioned. If Hansi's roots aren't in that thigh-slapping bollocks, then I'm Father Christmas.

But Hansi's rich, happy, with a much younger wife. The critics can go stuff themselves because he knows what the people want.

Because at the end of the day...

He who laughs, Last laughs longest.


  1. Geoff, Geoff, Geoff.
    We are your friends. You can tell us whether you really sat through all of that programme purely to able to produce a tortuous punchline.

    I remember Ted Heath in concert. He used to cover Tina Turner, Nirvana and Black Sabbath, finish the concert by ripping off his shirt, yelling "MOTHERFUCKER" and leap backwards into the audience. This was both before and after he was Prime Minister.
    (Well, you started it).

    nmpddnf - describes sound of James Last Oompah Orchestra

  2. I did.

    uwwflekr - James Last's 3rd trombone player.

  3. Geoff, how I wish I saw this documentary. But this being digital TV there's a good chance I will! Hurrah!

  4. I'm sure that wasn't the Last broadcast.