Jimmie ‘JJ’ Walker
All that glitters…

Getting the Last Laugh


One day I noticed in the back room of Egg Records a big box full of – I don’t know – maybe a hundred different James Last records. I was impressed because I didn’t think there were a hundred different James Last records. There certainly doesn’t need to be a hundred different ones. Although I’ve never listened to even one James Last record, I’m certain they all are of the same ilk of ‘muzak’, and so are interchangeable. The best thing about seeing so many of them in one place is being able to marvel at the kitsch cover art.

When pressed, my boss Ric admitted that not only had he acquired a hundred-odd James Last records, he had also ended up with an equal amount of James Last CDs. “But I didn’t buy them,” he was at pains to assure me. He had certainly taken possession of them with a big collection that he had recently bought, but, he insisted, throughout the negotiation of the purchase, he was adamant that he didn’t want to buy any James Last records. And why would he buy them? He didn’t want them, they didn’t suit our shop, we surely couldn’t expect customers to buy them from us. But the seller was just as adamant: he wouldn’t sell his collection unless Ric bought the James Last records and CDs as part of it. “I’d already decided the amount I’d offer him for the collection,” Ric explained. “Then, I thought, if he makes me take the James Last stuff, I’d actually offer him less than if he agreed to keep them himself. So in the end, he lost money by making me take it.”

Fantastic. Although he didn’t know it, some guy had effectively paid us a wad of cash to get rid of his James Last collection.

But who has the last laugh here?

Egg Records is a pretty cool shop. Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead, like members of Spiritualized when they were in Sydney, shopped at Egg Records and raved about the store. Do we want to be a shop full of James Last records and CDs? Which musicians would rave about us then? Richard Clayderman, maybe. Klaus Wunderlich, if he hadn’t passed away.

I know ‘easy listening’ and ‘muzak’ have a place in society, particularly since ‘cocktail music’ was exonerated and rehabilitated a little while back. Even Albert Einstein argued that the uninitiated should listen to Mantovani’s schmaltzy renditions of classical music in order to prepare for giving the real thing a go. Perhaps one day DJs will flock to op shops to locate James Last, as they do to locate copies of moog albums and field recordings of peoples indigenous to third-world countries, in order to base dance grooves upon them. If so, we should hold on to these records until a time that they’re worth twenty bucks each. However, forgetting for a moment that we have recourse to intellectual discourse and instead taking musical appreciation back to first principles in order to appraise it with the passion and raw emotion that, for most music lovers, hooked us onto it in the first place, the question remains:

What on earth could we do with this shit?

I suggested we put them up on the wall and charge customers a buck for three darts, to chuck at them, maybe with prizes for the best shots.

The problem with this is, obviously, the charging of a buck for what must be every music-lover’s inaliable right: to chuck pointy projectiles at effigies of James Last. Besides which, there’d always be one moron who’d have someone’s eye out, and it would all end in tears.

Ric came up with a better idea: suspending black markers from the ceiling, and mounting a bunch of covers as a wall disply, customers are invited to deface the covers as they see fit. Once the selection has been defaced, they will be replaced with a fresh batch. How cool is that!

For a closer look at the covers that came out slightly less blurred when snapped in a hurry during the dead period shortly before closing on a dull day, click here. (If I can be bothered, I’ll have another go during another lull in the working day. Or not.)

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