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Soundtrack Album: Last Summer

[cover art]

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.


Side A

  1. Last Summer Theme (John Simon)
    Instrumental. John Simon (roxicord, bass), Levon Helm (mandolin), Peter Pilafian (violin).

  2. Temptation, Lust & Laziness (John Simon)
    Performed by Aunt Mary's Transcendental Slip & Lurch Band, i.e. John Simon (vocal, piano), Levon Helm (drums, mandolin, harmony vocal) and Rick Danko (bass).

  3. Drivin' Daisy (John Simon)
    Cyrus Faryar (lead vocal, Harmony vocal),John Simon (organ), Hal Blain (drums) Larry Knechtel (bass), Mike Deasy (guitar).

  4. Cordelia (John Simon)
    Buddy Bruno (lead vocal), Buddy Bruno's girlfriend (harmony vocal), John Simon (piano), Richard Manuel (harmonica), Harvey Brooks (bass), Unknown (drums), Unknown (guitar).

  5. Sonuvagun (John Simon)
    Buddy Bruno (lead vocal), Buddy Bruno's girlfriend (harmony vocal), John Simon (piano), Harry Lookofsky (violin), Marvin Stamm (trumpet), Harvey Brooks (bass), Unknown (drums), Unknown (guitar).

  6. Hal, The Handyman (John Simon)
    John Simon (lead vocal, piano), Buddy Bruno (harmony vocal), Buddy Bruno's girlfriend (harmony vocal), Marvin Stamm (trumpet), Harvey Brooks (bass), Unknown (drums), Unknown (guitar).

  7. Beach Romp (John Simon)
    Instrumental. John Simon (piano), Unknown (drums), Unknown (bass).

Side B

  1. The Subtle Evanescence Of Now (Colin Walcott)
    Colin Walcott (sitar).

  2. Lay Your Love On Me (John Simon)
    Ray Draper (lead vocal), John Simon (piano), Hal Blain (drums), Larry Knechtel (bass), Mike Deasy (guitar), Plas Johnson (tenor sax).

  3. Magnetic Mama (John Simon)
    Performed by The Electric Meatball, i.e. John Simon (lead vocal, piano, bass, horns), Levon Helm (drums, guitar), Garth Hudson (horns).

  4. Safari Mary (John Simon)
    Henry Diltz (lead vocal), John Simon (organ), Mama Cass Elliot (harmony vocal), Lenne Hill (harmony vocals), Unknown (harmony vocal), Unknown (bass), Unknown (drums).

  5. Firehouse Blues (John Simon)
    Performed by Bad Kharma & The Bicycle Brothers, i.e. John Simon (organ, trombone), Plas Johnson (tenor sax), Paul Humphrey (drums), Unknown (bass), Unknown (guitar).

Soundtrack Album - Last Summer - 1969 - Warner Bros / Seven Arts Records WS-1791
Compact Disc: Warner Music Japan, WPCR-2102 (1998)

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