Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Good Ship Rediscovery: The La's – The La's

We all forget about the older stuff from time to time, in our quest to stay up to speed with the latest and greatest. But one should always respect their elders. So don’t forget about them, y’hear?

Alright, my little darlings, here's a real oldie, goodie, and tragically underappreciated record. Scousers (that's Liverpudlians to y'all) The La's were The Next Big Thing for a minute or two in the late 80s/early 90s, yet for all the buzz and all the promise they had shown, the band released just one proper studio record. Much of the blame can be placed squarely on the butting-heads between central La's figures Lee Mavers and John Power, the pair essentially the strength and heart of the band and unable to see eye-to-eye. It's really a shame, because the songs on The La's are so jubilant, so fresh, and so daggum catchy.

Witness, if you will, the oh so very satisfying, crowing jangle of "I Can't Sleep," based heavily on Liverpool's musical past and adding some La's swagger. It's quite a proclamation. "Timeless Melody" was one of the band's biggest successes, the big booming vocals of Mavers accented with emphatic acoustic strumming and an overall feeling of unbridled assertion and confidence. And then there's the one you know. Even if you didn't know it was The La's, you know this song. "There She Goes" has been a much beloved song of mine for more years than I can remember. It's a song sung so sweetly it's almost hard to imagine that it could possibly (rumor has it) be about heroin.

"Feelin'" is a charmer, irrepressible and catchy as catchy can be. Between the rough acoustic intro, the inescapable bounce to the instrumentation, and the fallen angel voice of Mavers, the song is a class act. In songs like "Feelin'," "Way Out," and "I.O.U.," The La's proved their mettle at creating nearly perfect pop songs in under the accepted three-minute window (the longest of the three, "Way Out," clocks in at barely two and a half minutes). This was a band that didn't need much time to say what needed to be said. Inversely, the last song on the record seems excessively long when compared with all the others. "Looking Glass," not only a favorite La's song but an overall favorite song of mine, is just under eight minutes of beautiful, introspective self-indulgence, replete with swirling guitars and a sense of disoriented frenzy that somehow feels like the best way to bring the curtain down not only on the record but The La's themselves.

The La's is, you might could say, a fading postcard of a really special moment in music, representing those days when everything that came out of the North was as golden as lightning in a bottle, and when Scousers and Mancs were officially It in the UK music scene. It's also a reminder of how fragile musical life can be, and how rifts can ruin something that could have been greater than anyone can fathom.

m4a: There She Goes (The La's from The La's)

m4a: Looking Glass (The La's from The La's)

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