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 – people were saying that The La’s were the new Smiths – and they became a name around town. Their demos – listened to eagerly – won them a deal with leading indie label, Go! Discs, who issued a well-received debut single, Way Out.
The single There She Goes (1988) initially eluded the charts while the band returned to the studio for two years to perfect tracks for their debut album. By early 1990, everyone was 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 and There She Goes was reissued and became a hit, reaching #13 in the UK Top 20.
In October of that year, the group finally released their debut self-titled album, an all-embracing and truly musical collection of tunes.
But the band – particularly main man Lee Mavers – disliked the album intensely. They hadn’t got on with producer Steve Lillywhite 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” Cammell
John “Timmo” Timson