After a short, three-date Ireland tour the Rolling Stones embarked on their first ever tour of the Pacific, playing sixteen shows in Australia and New Zealand (January 22 - February 13, 1965). Before and after the tour the band visited RCA Studios, Hollywood, to record their next single. "The Last Time" was first taped on January 18, but since Mick Jagger wasn't sufficiently happy with the vocals the band returned to RCA after the tour to re-do them.
The song, recorded under the watchful eye of experienced engineer Dave Hassinger, signified a slight change in style: the sound was harder hitting, thriving on a repetitive guitar riff (a characteristic of Keith Richards' work), and surgeant backing vocals - 'I don't know'. Phil Spector was in the studio lending a significant hand, while Jack Nitzsche played tambourine. Although hardly audible in the final mix, Ian Stewart is on piano.
"The Last Time" was credited as a Jagger-Richards composition, but strictly speaking it wasn't written entirely by them. Actually they borrowed the chorus from gospel group the Staple Singers' 1955 recording called "This May Be The Last Time", in itself a traditional but arranged by the Staples, with arranger Shirley Joiner.
Adapted from the following sources:
Martin Elliott, The Rolling Stones. Complete Recording Sessions 1962-2002. Cherry Red Books, 2002.
James Hector, The Complete Guide To The Music Of The Rolling Stones. Omnibus Press, 1995.