Track This: The Last's "She Don't Know Why I'm Here"
The Last's music is a raging, timely love letter to 60s psychedelia with an 80s flare and a punk rock ethic. All the touchstones of the so-called 80s Paisley Revival are included, beginning in 1976: The Byrds, Dylan, Love, The Pretty Things, and more. Yet there is so much else here; there are touches of mod, power pop, surf, and punk, all tied up in an energetic package. The first track, "She Don't Know Why I'm Here" is an anthem that could have been written in the 60s; it's timeless power is evident because it is a catchy pop tune undercut with a current of danger and cynicism. The Last justly increase the power and speed over its three minute running time. Not unlike The Barracudas, The Last traffic in sweet and sour melodies, often juxtaposed; Joe Nolte writes upbeat pop numbers, but also dabbles in psychedelic sadness. "She Don't Know Why I'm Here" combines both worldviews.
I first heard the track on an old Bomp compilation, Destination Bomp, which presented a sampling of the entire range of Greg Shaw's great rock and roll label. The song was sandwiched in between Rodney Bingenheimer's lark cover of Ronnie and the Daytonas' "Little G.T.O." and the rhythm and blues loving Crawdaddys' "I Can Never Tell," a song that tries for The Last's melodicism and danger, but pales in comparison -- and it's a great track. The sampler also contains some power pop and garage stalwarts like The Flamin' Groovies, The Modern Lovers, The Plimsouls, and Iggy Pop, just to name a few. Even in that humbling group, "She Don't Know Why I'm Here" stands above the pack.
It's a great album opener on their indispensable first album, L.A. Explosion. As the song hits, the keyboards introduce a menacing feeling, and then the guitars and drums come in. And The band even includes an unexpected short, blazing guitar solo amidst the vocal harmonies and jingly rhythm guitars. Nolte's vocals are deep and compelling and the lyrics add to the mysteriousness of the proceedings. He sings, "See that girl with the raven hair / I wish she were mine / but she don't care cause / She don't know why I'm here." Adding to the sense of confusion, neither the narrator or the girl knows why they are there. Nolte's scene busting anthem seems to call into question everyone involved, before he calls out the phonies in snarling, Punk fashion: "This ones for you / You modified petrified hypocrites / God! To raise your children like goldfish / In plastic Naugahyde cells." The Last have created a song influenced by the sixties, but with all the instrumental and vocal venom of the punk era. This blueprint was much copied, but never bettered.
Track This is a recurring feature of Snobbin' that turns the
music appreciation dial up and rips it off of your stereo. It attempts to introduce a new track, allow readers to rediscover an
underappreciated track, or just serve as a forum to flat out discuss a track that falls into
the ear candy category and should be listened to unabashedly for years
Act Two opens with Hood's “Let
There Be Rock,” which not only alludes to AC/DC's song of the same name but
addresses how both Betamax Guillotine and Hood grew up in the shadows of great
bands. While he never saw Lynyrd Skynyrd, he lists the bands he did see, while
the band works up a rock frenzy. Like most songs that purport to introduce the
power of rock music, “Let There Be Rock” attempts to be a blistering example of
the form, yet Hood's clever, yet straightforward, lyrics temper it. The narrator could be any young music fan
growing up in America during the 1970s, listening to music, doing drugs, and
drinking to excess. He drops acid at Blue Oyster Cult, is pulled over with weed
and booze, drinks vodka and almost dies. He juxtaposes each binge with his
experiences seeing classic bands. Both scenarios are equally important to his
future quest at being a rock god, or at least, writing about them. The refrain
reintroduces the rock: “And I never saw Lynyrd Skyn…