SHOOTING STARS: THE LA’S

SHOOTING STARS: THE LA’S

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An exhibition focusing on The La’s opens at The Florrie this week. I heard about it and smiled. Then I was sent a preview of it and did something else: I listened. Properly… for the first time in a while. By Alan O’Hare. 

I saw a picture today, oh boy. Lee Mavers, lead La and top blue, was sneering down the lens from behind an acoustic guitar and a microphone and everything else flashed before my eyes like a fever dream.

Buddy Holly. Eddie Cochran. The Beatles. The lost souls of Albert Dock. An eighties wind blowing sixties dust up Hardman Street to where once stood The Picket. The rattle of a Takamine and a cheap snare drum, both held down by duct tape and a boss bass line. Those harmonies… and those songs.

A lot of shite is talked about The La’s and the legend of Mavers. Hey, we’ve all done it (reread the previous paragraph). But, when it all comes down, all that remains standing tall and true are the tunes. And, my God, what fucking tunes they are. Is that one and only debut album perfect? Is it shite… but it stands alone in a field of one. Nothing sounds like that record. Nothing. I don’t care how many bootlegs you own, how many alternative mixes you’ve come across or how many radio sessions you’ve got on tape, ‘The La’s’ is a unique shot of wonder.

Hundreds of bands, from around here and elsewhere, have tried to emulate its rattle ‘n’ roll, but none have come close. From the inner-city blues holler of ‘Son Of A Gun’ through to the Liverpool psych of ‘Looking Glass’, Mavers’ flawed masterpiece is as odd and beautiful as they come… and it is odd, you know. Familiarity breeds contentment, but ‘The La’s’ should never be taken for granted.

‘Timeless Melody’, ‘I Can’t Sleep’ and ‘Doledrum’ remain impossibly exciting shooting stars of startling originality – and then there’s the singles. Where do you start with ‘There She Goes’? I’ll tell you where: go and listen to it again. Properly, I mean… find it, put away your prejudice and press play. Wondrous, isn’t it? Forget all the bollocks that has become pre-conceived wisdom about Oasis and The Beatles… that is as close as anyone’s ever come to toppling The Fabs’. Sparkling riff, intro chorus and other-worldly harmony singing all present and correct.  ‘Way Out’, too, is a magical swirling ship that has waltzed its way into wherever a singer/songwriter is sat with their soul in their hands, while ‘Feelin” fizzes with the fire of a first shot across the bow.

John Power’s pipes remain vastly underrated on the record as well. Ever present throughout, his backing vocals and harmonies are peerless as he dives in and out of Mavers’ pearls with the musical instinct and intellect of a veteran.  He was in his early twenties and so was Mavers. Imagine that. Thinking about it, therein probably reveals the truth of The La’s stand-alone album: it was made by a group of people who could only do it the once.

Ain’t that a shame.

The La’s 1987 Exhibition
September 15th – October 7th 2017
The Florrie, Mill Street, Liverpool

Pic, ‘The La’s, Limelight Club, 14th November 1987’, by Jake Summerton

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3 comments

jake.summerton
September 13, 2017 Reply
Hi Folks Cheers for running the piece on the La's. I took the images on the tour from London back to Liverpool in 87. I'n both supprised and pleased at the response and made up that Paul is releasing the recordings that up to now non of us have heard. I listened to the cleaned up sound , and the track that stood out for me was 'jumpin jack flash' the drumming was tops and i still prefer that version to the Stones ( even though i'm a big stones fan). If any of the staff get to the exhibition, i would be grateful for a Critical response, email or facebook ( the website is under construction, but most of my time is spent on the exhibition) Regards Jake.
    Alan O'Hare
    September 13, 2017 Reply
    You're welcome, Jake. The photos I've seen are something else! Looking forward to hearing the new recordings, too, the Stones cover sounds great there... I'll be down to the exhibition at some point and will give you shout with some thoughts. All the best with it... Alan
Matt grant
September 15, 2017 Reply
Hi man the las lived with me in london from87-90 on and off . I also took beil and lee to peru . Ive got keees last finished tune on a cassette recorded on my four track

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