The La’s – The La’s (1990): Review

Label – Go! Discs
Producer – Steve Lillywhite

According to legend, before the recording of the Oasis debut “Definitely Maybe”, Liam Gallagher’s aspiration was for his album to be, in his opinion, as good as “The La’s”. And yet for all the adulation the album received from muso’s, the press and fans, there was one man who simply hated the album; the man who wrote it, Lee Mavers. His response to a question posed by the NME on the album’s release was both curt and vitriolic. “I hate it, it’s the worst. A pile of sh*t. There is not one good thing I can find to say about it”. The rest of the band and the suits at record label Go! Discs must have been seething to hear Maver’s outburst, particularly when one considers the album took 3 years to complete, went through several producers and cost the label a considerable amount of money in studio time. Fortunately, Mavers was in the minority of one, and the album was judged by critical acclaim and sales, highlighted by the success of one of the most memorable singles of the decade “There She Goes”. It’s a song of such uncontrived simplicity, a falsetto hooked masterwork that endures a favourable reverence to this day.

A world away from the new baggy movement that would be a dominant force for the early part of the decade, The La’s scally wag skiffle rock was inspired more by the 60s Liverpool beat scene, invigorated by Mavers acoustic strums, Peter Camell’s careful lead, and John Power’s skittish bass. There are many memorable moments, but look out for the Cavernesque rock n’ roll of “Feelin’”, the outstanding “noise fest” crescendo that closes with the epic “Looking Glass”; along with “Son Of A Gun”, “Timeless Melody” and “Doledrum”. Steve Lillywhite puts the pieces together superbly particularly given that Mavers was un-cooperative throughout the Eden studio sessions. It’s rumoured that he and the band didn’t play to their full potential in hope that the recordings would be rejected by the label. Goodness knows what the album would have been like if they’d played at their best? “The La’s” remains a uniquely confident debut album, full of genuine song writing skill and a back to basics ethic that crosses every generation of music development. Still relevant to this day ? Listen to The Coral or The Zutons and “The La’s” is laced through every note.

The album remains a stunner. Authentic pop rock with a special zing…the kind that can’t be faked.

9/10

1 Son of a Gun 1:56
2 I Can’t Sleep 2:37
3 Timeless Melody 3:01
4 Liberty Ship 2:30
5 There She Goes 2:42
6 Doledrum 2:49
7 Feelin’ 1:44
8 Way Out 2:32
9 I.O.U. 2:08
10 Freedom Song 2:23
11 Failure 2:54
12 Looking Glass 7:51

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