The La's Vinyl, CD & tapes by The La's at Norman Records
What to say about the ‘career’ of The La’s? One classic album (disowned on release by notoriously grumpy singer Lee Mavers) and, er, that’s it pretty much it...unless you want to wade through collections of radio sessions and early demo recordings.
The album in question, though, is their infamous 1990 debut The La’s. Anticipation at the time was high after a brace of superb singles ('Way Out' and 'There She Goes') had convinced listeners that these Liverpudlian scamps could rescue the kind of ‘60s-influenced guitar music that had started to become invisible in the electronica and dance-oriented late 80s. Their sound was a breath of fresh air: lovingly strummed acoustic guitars and cardboard box drumming underpinning the sky-scraping melodies of Lee Mavers. Even before the release of the album, 'There She Goes' was an instant classic - a three minute flashback to the brilliant, searing pop of the likes of The Hollies and The Yardbirds.
After several failed attempts to record an album with a variety of producers, Steve Lilywhite managed to coax something out of the band in order to satisfy an increasingly panicked record label. Mavers would have nothing to do with it, but its dry and skiffly sound - which at the time lacked the ringing clarity of the early singles - has aged well. It sounds completely out of step with anything released at the time, lending the album a classic, timeless feel. The songs are superb from beginning to end, with both the feel of a dazed and confused 1960s Merseybeat band and the darker hues of swampy, sea shanty-like material - upbeat guitar pop nestled next to something not completely unlike a scouse Tom Waits sound.
And then….nothing. But the influence of The La’s is wide ranging. Noel Gallagher stated that the original premise of Oasis was to finish what The La’s started, whilst the sound of fellow Liverpudlians The Coral is deeply rooted in their original vision. Their music also heralded a return to a more rootsy, organic approach to recording after the lavish and lush 1980s. Bands like Pavement and Guided By Voices would continue to record in a more spontaneous fashion, as lo-fi and raw methods of recording gained popularity throughout the 1990s. They may have left us with just one document of their brilliance, but the fact that it is remembered (and constantly re-issued and re-pressed) is testament to its classic status.