The La’s emerged in Liverpool in 1987, playing vibrant unashamedly nostalgic working-class pop with council estate swagger and a sensibility honed in the northern beat boom. They got a lot of people excited very quickly, they became a name around town, and their demos – listened to eagerly – won them a deal with leading indie label, Go! Discs.
And then The La’s story became one of triumph, disaster, farce, and the odd protracted silence,
In early 1987, people were saying that The La’s were the new Smiths. By early 1990, they were wondering why the band had managed only two singles in their career to date. Two very good singles, admittedly – but hardly back-breaking work for three years.
Depending on who you listened to, The La’s were either errant but luminous geniuses, gifted but wayward, or they were awkward Scouse sods who did not appreciate their good fortune. Singles, albums, live dates, all had been mooted and scrapped with embarrassing regularity.
It was looking like The La’s had missed the boat . . . until 1990 brought a sudden renewed interest in anything Northern, male and shaggy. Finally, their eponymous debut album was released in October 1990.
But the band – particularly main man Lee Mavers – disliked the album intensely. They hadn’t got on with producer Steve Lilywhite in the studio, and had struggled with their sound, never got into their stride, and after an eternity of procrastination and piddling around, the group abandoned the project.
Go! Discs pieced together an album from the available tapes (with Lilywhite’s expertise) and voila – a hit album that the band couldn’t stand and didn’t think represented them.
Peter ‘Cammy’ Camell