Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — November 16, 2021

250) The Del-Vetts — “The Last Time Around”

I don’t honor the Del-Vetts because they hail from my hometown of Highland Park, Illinois, a semi-tony Chicago suburb on the shores of Lake Michigan. OK, it doesn’t hurt. And had they been from Winnetka, it would be a cold day in hell. . . But enough about my methodology.

The Del-Vetts got together in ‘63, shortly after I was born. But I lived in NYC at the time, so it is not like I was a big fan. “The Last Time” was actually the first time, the band’s first single for Dunwich, the legendary Chicago garage rock label (think the Shadows of Knight). It was an instant classic. As the canonical Nuggets comp opines:

Their first Dunwich single . . . in May 1966, is absolutely electrifying, with a desperation-choked vocal riding a lethal guitar-and-bass riff. The song takes off into a spectacular, fuzz-guitar rave-up before spiraling back to earth for a final lap of emotional despair. Any resemblance between [the] guitar solo here and Jeff Beck’s on The Yardbirds’ “Mister You’re A Better Man Than I” is probably less than coincidental.

Jason Ankeny concurs in All Music Guide:

A snarling fuzz-rocker featuring a blistering . . . guitar solo clearly inspired by Jeff Beck’s work in the Yardbirds [it] topped local radio play lists throughout the summer . . . [It] remains a masterpiece of the garage punk genre . . . .

And Jeff Jarema calls the song an “earwax-melting classic” in his liner notes to Oh Yeah! The Best of Dunwich Records, He elaborates on the song’s trajectory:

Despite its crunching riff, hopelessly depressing lyrics, and ear-splitting guitar break, [the song] was picked up by both [Chicago Top 40 stations] WLS and WCFL and even appeared on their charts in July. Somewhat surprisingly, the record failed to break nationally while local momentum suffered from the five-month wait for the group’s follow-up . . . .

Tragically, lead singer and guitarist Jim Lauer spent much of his later life confined to a mental institution. “The Last Time” was written by Lauer’s friend Dennis Dahlquist.

“Well I’m sittin’ here sinking on deeper down. My head is a-spinning around and ’round. I can’t seem to shake this feelin’. Oh my body is a rockin’ and reelin’. Oh it’s such a funny feelin’. Well I know this is the last time around for me, oh yeah. . . . My eyes are blurred and I can’t hear a sound. Fight it, help me fight it. ‘Cause I know this is the last time around for me, oh yeah. It’s taken me over and swallowed me up. I’m caught in a landslide, I can’t bend or duck, I’ve run out of time and I’ve run out of luck. I know this is the last time around, oh yeah.”

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