Lee Mavers, the creative force of the La's, has been the centre of rumour after rumour for the seven years since he was last seen in the public domain. After bass player John Power left the band to form Cast, the reclusive genius seemed to lose his direction a tad. Most stories in the music press fuelled rumours of Mavers' heroin addiction, some said he was aiming to spend eight years creating the perfect pop record, whilst others claimed he was locked in his cellar trying to perfect his 1990's classic debut album 'The La's'.

Pieced together from five different sessions with seven different producers, 'The La's' is a gem of a record that its protagonists were never happy with. Mavers wanted to hear the songs the way he recorded them on his dictaphone, and at one point a single microphone was set up in the centre of a performance room to try and capture that sound. This never worked, and in the end Steve Lillywhite from the record label had to go against the wishes of the La's and salvage what he could.

Whilst the band themselves may not have been happy with the album, it was released in 1990 to great critical acclaim. The single 'There She Goes', arguably the most perfect pop song ever written (and not, as some claim, about heroin), had already alerted the music listening public to these new scouse upstarts, and the album was well received.

The La's worked in a very loose way, with a total of ten different musicians playing on this album. The end result, though, is nothing short of genius. Post-modern lyrics set to good old rock n' roll backbeats is a winning formula. Mavers and Power harmonise well together on the vocal parts, the rhythm section is solid and the songs themselves are breathtaking. If ever an advert was needed for simple, three chord, two and a half minute pop songs being enough to forge a legend, this is it. The hits 'There She Goes', 'Timeless Melody' and 'Way Out' we all know, but every track on this album is a winner; the ode to insomnia 'I Can't Sleep', the scally charm of 'I.O.U', the yearning of 'Freedom Song'. I could go on, but to do so would be an exercise in futility. Songs like these don't need analysing, they need hearing. The simplest songs often seem to be the best, and there's nothing complex about this collection. Mavers' perfectionist appetite may not have been satisfied, but we all know these songs would still appeal were they recorded in a vacuum cleaner.

Whatever issues the band had with the recordings, whatever mistakes they went on to make (Mavers' decline into heroin addiction, Power's decline into Cast), and whether or not we ever hear from them again, all we need to know is that The La's have left a legacy to inspire, and continue to inspire, those who believe in the art of the three minute pop song. Their effect on me was a major one - this album inspired me to learn guitar, and develop my songwriting. Ever since my mate gave me a dodgy copy of it in 1995, I've aspired to find out how to write songs as simple, but as effective, as Lee Mavers'. He is held in high esteem within the music world, and with good reason. I know this album opened up a whole new world for me, and hope it does to many others.











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