Soundtrack Album: Last Summer
Last Summer was released in 1969, a movie starring Barbara Hershey about four young people during the course of a summer on Fire Island, and what happens to them. Reviews said it was the best picture on the subject of youth.
The Warner Bros. soundtrack album opens with an instrumental, "Last Summer Theme", a beautiful loping cut that has strings mixed with a trilled mandolin. Plenty of finely played mandolin and drums are included on "Temptation, Lust & Laziness", a great country-romp-duet between Levon Helm and John Simon. "Drivin' Daisy" has Cyrus Faryar on vocals, singer, instrumentalist and producer who was with the Modern Folk Quintet and Whiskyhill Singers, and prominent session musician. "Cordelia" and "Sonuvagun" are sung by Buddy Bruno, who was discovered by Simon. Cordelia is sung in falsetto and was rerecorded by Simon for his Journey album in 1972. The transient "Subtle Evanescence Of Now" is an instrumental composed and performed by Colin Walcott on sitar (a disciple of Ravi Shankar) which takes you straight back to the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. "Lay Your Love On Me" is an Otis Redding sounding r&b thumper with Ray Draper (jazz tuba player and vocalist with Red, Beans & Rice) on vocals. The heavy "Magnectic Mama" has Simon singing. "Safari Mary, won't you come back to me?" has banjoist/singer, formerly with the Modern Folk Quintet and respected session musician and photographer Henry Diltz on vocals. A slightly unsettling sounding cut that has you shifting in your chair. As does "Hal, The Handyman". "Firehouse Blues" is a very appealing instrumental. A sleazy sax plays over a backing of guitar, bass and drums that is very reminiscent of The Band.
Laughter and shouts of joy can be heard throughout the cut as if its a rehearsal or private performance for friends who have dipped at the sauce. The liner notes to the album say:
It was decided that Simon's music should be more than just sweeping strings playing tuneless background themes or occasional sound effects on some soulless electronic wonder. The music should be, in fact, another member of the cast. With that in mind, several separate and distinct songs were written, to be performed by a number of talented individuals under Simon's supervision. The result is a highly memorable score, and one that holds up remarkably well when separated from the film for which it was created. While some of the musicians, for contractual reasons must remain anonymous, their music speaks for itself. Last Summer is an uncommen film. This is an uncommonly fine soundtrack album.The album was subtitled "Featuring songs composed and performed by John Simon" and was recorded in New York at The Hit Factory and Sound Recorders.
-- Lee Gabites
Last Summer was re-released on CD by Warner in Japan in 1998, with more details from John Simon about the musicians on each track. According to the CD's Japanese liner notes, all members of The Band, except Robbie Robertson, play on the album.
Soundtrack Album - Last Summer - 1969 - Warner Bros / Seven Arts Records WS-1791