When Bill Last began student teaching at Hamden High in 1977, he quickly discovered that he was surrounded by talented young people, and his fomenting desire to form a band was soon realized. He put together his group rather quickly, bringing together four young women as vocalists to accompany him. The group would get together in Last’s parents’ basement and rehearse and record Last’s original songs in single takes. Last then pressed two hundred copies for friends, family, and record labels.
If you believe these conditions would result in a record that sounds utterly charming in its naiveté, you would be correct. What Twilight Nuages lacks in technical and professional acumen, it makes up for it in its innocence. Last’s songs are very much of the era, the sort of feel-good reflective songs heard on the radio. It’s not hard to imagine the girls trying to channel Karen Carpenter or Debbie Boone when they earnestly sang “You Can Always Walk Away (Song for the Only)” and “Shoot For The Stars.” The fun harmonies and carefree acoustic guitars on “Lazy Sunday Afternoons” evoke memories of campfire youth group sing-alongs.
Best of the lot is the one song unreleased at the time, “Nobody Loves Me,” an upbeat sunshine pop number, with a sizzling hot guitar and piano solos, and a tambourine breakdown. This song was recorded for their unreleased second album, and it sounds a lot slicker than the rest of Twilight Nuages. Based on this debut record, here’s hoping that the release of those recordings will happen soon.
Looking for expert musicians and technically amazing recordings? Look elsewhere. Twilight Nuages was a labor of love for Bill Last, and a fun time for the kids involved in the project. This is one of the most charming records I’ve heard all year.