The La's were an English rock band from Liverpool, originally active
from 1983 until 1992. Fronted by singer, songwriter and guitarist Lee
Mavers, the group are best known for their hit single "There She
Goes". The band was formed by
Mike Badger in 1983 and Mavers joined
the next year, although for most of the group's history, the
frequently changing line-up revolved around the core duo of Lee Mavers
(vocals, guitar) and John Power (bass, backing vocals) along with
numerous other guitarists and drummers including Paul Hemmings, John
"Timmo" Timson, Peter "Cammy" Cammell, Iain Templeton, John "Boo"
Byrne, Chris Sharrock, Barry Sutton and Neil Mavers.
After the departure of Badger in late 1986, the band signed to Go!
Discs in 1987 and commenced recording of their debut album. Following
the release of singles "Way Out" (1987), "There She Goes" (1988) and
"Timeless Melody" (1990) and having aborted several recording sessions
with different producers, the band released their debut album The La's
in 1990 to critical acclaim and modest commercial success. John Power
The La's to form Cast and the group entered a prolonged hiatus in
1992 which lasted almost two decades. The group later reformed briefly
in the mid-1990s, 2005 and 2011. However, no new recordings have been
1.1 1983–1986: Formation and early years
1.2 1987–1990: Record deal and
The La's album
1.3 1991–2003: John Power's departure and hiatus
1.4 2004–present: Reformations
2 Musical style and legacy
3 Post La's
5.1 Studio album
5.2 Compilation albums
5.4 Other appearances
7 Further reading
8 External links
1983–1986: Formation and early years
The La's formed in 1983, with original member
Mike Badger stating that
the band name occurred to him in a dream, as well as it being Scouse
for "lads", and having obvious musical connotations. The band existed
briefly as an arthouse/skiffle-type outfit with a few tracks released
on local compilations.
Lee Mavers joined in 1984 as rhythm guitarist,
eventually gaining songwriting prominence and emerging as the band's
enduring figurehead. Bernie Nolan accomplished musician formerly of
The Falcons, The Russian Rockabillys and The Swampmen was the original
bassist. John Power joined the group in 1986, having met Badger on a
local council-run musicianship course. Badger however left the group
in late 1986, to form The Onset.
The band attracted the attention of several record labels after a
series of performances in their hometown in 1986, and demo tapes
copied from a session at the Flying Picket rehearsal studio in
Liverpool began circulating. One of these demo tapes was sent to
Underground Magazine. A journalist there with the task of reviewing
unsigned bands gave the cassette to Andy McDonald at Go Discs. Several
record labels later became interested in signing the band. The band
chose to sign with Go! Discs.
1987–1990: Record deal and
The La's album
The band's first single "Way Out" was mixed with producer Gavin
MacKillop. When it was released in October 1987, it broke into the top
100 and was praised by The Smiths' frontman
Morrissey in the music
magazine Melody Maker, but attracted little notice. The band continued
to perform around the UK and gained success as a live act, drawing
The Beatles due to their origins, vaguely Merseybeat
sound, and Mavers' expressive lyrics.
"There She Goes" was released in 1988 with the B-sides "Come in Come
Out" and "Who Knows". The song garnered moderate attention and
airplay, but performed poorly in the charts. The music video for
"There She Goes" features the La's scampering through run-down
Liverpool streets and was filmed in an afternoon on a handheld camera.
It was later re-released a number of times, the earliest being 1990's
Steve Lillywhite mix. After working with producer Jeremy Allom at the
Pink Museum Studio in
Liverpool in May 1989, the band were set to
release "Timeless Melody" as a single. While test pressings had been
sent out for review, and was awarded "single of the week" in Melody
Maker, Mavers was reportedly unhappy with the production and the
single release was scrapped.
The La's then spent two years fruitlessly recording and re-recording
their intended album, with a constantly changing band line-up, where
only the core of Mavers and Power remained the same. Discarded
producers included The Smiths' producer John Porter, as well as John
Leckie and Mike Hedges. Both Leckie and Hedges in interviews have been
very complimentary about the band's songs and their respective
Neil Mavers' Ludwig drum set used during his time in The La's.
The previously volatile band line-up settled in 1989 with Lee's
brother, Neil Mavers on drums, and Peter "Cammy" Cammell as lead
guitarist. The group then entered London's
Eden Studios in December
1989 to again record their debut album with
Simple Minds and U2
producer Steve Lillywhite. Despite this line-up being arguably the
most stable, and press interviews from the time painting them as
extremely confident, the sessions still did not satisfy Mavers. In one
instance Mavers was reported to have rejected a vintage mixing desk,
claiming it did not have the right sound because "it hasn't got
original Sixties dust on it" although this claim has since been
revealed as apocryphal. The Eden sessions with Lillywhite would become
the band's final attempt at recording the album. The frustration of
not achieving the right sound and mood in their songs, as well as
increasing friction with Go! Discs, who had spent a considerable sum
of money on recording sessions for the album, led to them simply
giving up on the sessions. Lillywhite pieced together the recordings
he had made with the group into what became the eventually released
album. The band, particularly Lee Mavers, were not pleased with this
Among the band's complaints were that Lillywhite used vocal guide
tracks on the LP and that he did not "understand" their sound. Mavers
would later go on to claim that the band had played poorly
deliberately during the sessions in the hope that the material would
not be released, as they did not gel with Lillywhite from day
However, recognition, at least critically, came for the La's in 1990
when the self-titled album, The La's, was released. The album reached
No. 30 in the UK charts and received a Silver certification, but
the album did not fare as well overseas. The album only reached
No. 196 on the
Billboard 200 and to date has sold fewer than
50,000 copies in the U.S.
The album included, among new material, re-recorded versions of all
the previous singles, including a remixed version of "There She Goes"
which was then re-released as a single. This time around, the song
reached number 13 in the
UK singles chart
UK singles chart and remains the most visible
and enduring of all the band's songs.
Additional singles from the album included the LP versions of
"Timeless Melody" and "Feelin'". Both sold reasonably well, reaching
chart placings around the top 40. A short promotional tour proceeded,
accompanied by television appearances on shows such as Top of the
Pops. Press interviews conducted during this period were generally
confused in tone because the critics generally praised the album yet
Mavers was assuring journalists that he "hated" the album and it was
"like a snake with a broken back".
1991–2003: John Power's departure and hiatus
1991 promotional tour dates were fulfilled in the UK and Europe
including a few festivals, and a US tour. Bassist John Power left the
group on 13 December 1991, frustrated with having played essentially
the same set of songs since 1986, and resurfaced a year later with his
band Cast. The remainder of the 1991 concerts were performed with
James Joyce on bass as well as a handful of 1992 dates. The band
stopped touring and rehearsing in 1992 until further short-lived
reunions, with various line-ups, throughout the 1990s and 2000s.
The La's reunited sporadically for a series of live performances
throughout 1994 and 1995. The comeback was brought about due to a
merchandising debt from the 1991 U.S. tour and the band played support
slots to artists such as Oasis,
Paul Weller and Dodgy. The reformed
band consisted of differing line-ups for each concert and as well as
Lee Mavers other performers included several former members such as
Barry Sutton, Lee Garnett, John "Boo" Byrne, James Joyce, Peter
"Cammy" Cammell and Neil Mavers.
In 1996, Mavers began recording at The Arch studio in Kew, London
owned by ex-The Damned drummer Rat Scabies. Initially working
alone, he was later joined in the studio by ex-
The Stairs frontman
Edgar Jones, Lee Garnett and Neil Mavers. The sessions ended
because of damp in the studio, however Mavers and Summertyme continued
to rehearse and record in
Liverpool for a year. After the collapse
of Go! Discs, Mavers recording contract with the label was acquired by
PolyGram and eventually expired in 1998. In 1998, Mavers began
rehearsing with the then unsigned
Liverpool band The Crescent. A
bootleg recording of one of these rehearsals known as The Crescent
Tape would later leak on to the Internet.
In the late 1990s, Mavers renewed contact with founder member Mike
Badger and subsequently two compilation albums of early demos and
home recordings were released by
The Viper Label (founded by ex-La's
Badger and Hemmings), Lost La's 1984–1986: Breakloose (1999) and
Lost La's 1986–1987: Callin' All (2001). A Japan only compilation
album Singles Collection (2001) was released by Universal Music Japan
containing all of the band's singles and b-sides released from 1987 to
1991. A biography about the band In Search of The La's: A Secret
Liverpool by MW Macefield was published in 2003. The book contained
interviews with many former members of the La's including Lee Mavers,
John Power, Mike Badger, Paul Hemmings, Barry Sutton, Peter "Cammy"
Cammell and Neil Mavers.
Following a reunion between Mavers and John Power, The La's
reformed in June 2005 with a line-up of
Lee Mavers (vocals, guitar),
John Power (bass, backing vocals), ex-Cracatilla frontman Jay Lewis
(guitar) and Nick Miniski (drums), playing dates in England and
Ireland ahead of an appearance at the
Summer Sonic festival in Japan
and other UK festivals. After three concerts, Miniski was
replaced as drummer by roadie Jim "Jasper" Fearon, who was Mavers'
school friend and one time bass player for the La's. The set lists
were mostly the same as in the late 1980s, although certain encores
contained some previously unheard songs such as "Gimme the Blues" and
"Sorry". Since the reunion gigs it has been rumoured that Mavers has
continued working on the La's' elusive second album. When interviewed
in August 2006, John Power explained that Mavers was still "tinkering
with something that's majestic" and of the release date, "I can’t
tell you where and when...' cos whatever he does, whether it’s in
this lifetime or the next, it can’t be rushed".
A compilation of the La's' live radio sessions
BBC in Session
BBC in Session was
released on 18 September 2006. In 2008, a new deluxe edition of The
La's was released containing the lost
Mike Hedges album, alternate
recordings and live recordings for radio and television including
previously unreleased songs "I Am the Key" and a
Buddy Holly cover
"That'll Be the Day". Also Lost Tunes (2008) was released as a
download only EP of studio out-takes and alternate recordings.
After being introduced to each other by Gary Murphy of The
Lee Mavers began jamming with
Pete Doherty in 2008
and appeared on stage with Doherty during his 2009 tour.
Mavers then started performing live with artists such as Drew
Jon McClure in London in April 2009. In 2009
Adam Ficek revealed plans of the La's' second
album to be recorded with the
Babyshambles as backing band and
Drew McConnell revealed plans for him to join
The La's as bassist;
however, this supposed lineup did not materialise and live appearances
were cancelled. In 2010, a four-disc box-set of singles, b-sides,
studio out-takes, alternate recordings and live material Callin' All
(2010) was released by Polydor which collected most of the band's
still unreleased recordings produced whilst signed to Go! Discs.
In June 2011 Lee Mavers, accompanied by Gary Murphy on bass guitar,
played a surprise concert in Manchester under the name Lee Rude &
The Velcro Underpants. Following this Mavers and Murphy reformed
the La's and played a series of "stripped back" shows across the UK
and Europe including a performance at
Rock en Seine festival in
France in August 2011.
Musical style and legacy
The La's – There She Goes excerpt
An excerpt from "There She Goes"
Problems playing this file? See media help.
Lee Mavers has described their sound as "rootsy" and "raw and
AllMusic have noted the band's "simple, tuneful,
The La's were also noted for their
distinctly different style to other popular British bands in the late
1980s, such as
The Stone Roses
The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays, who were
part of the
The La's sound has been compared to that of Merseybeat and 1960s
British rock music and the band often faced comparisons to The
Beatles who were also from Liverpool. Founding member Mike
Badger has named
Captain Beefheart as the La's' main influence and the
band have also cited artists such as Bo Diddley, Bob Dylan, Louis
Armstrong, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The
Kinks, Bob Marley, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Duke
Ellington, and Ella Fitzgerald as influences.
The La's have been cited as an influence by artists such as Oasis, The
Charlatans and Travis.
Bassist John Power went on to form Cast in 1992, releasing 4 studio
albums before splitting in 2001. Guitarists Barry Sutton and Peter
Cammell featured in an early lineup of the band. Cast reformed in
2010. In 2016, Jay Lewis who performed with the band in 2005, later
joined Cast as bassist.
Mike Badger and
Paul Hemmings later played together in The Onset
started The Viper Label, releasing many early recording compilations
by the La's.
In the mid 90s, Neil Mavers joined
Liverpool group Bullit, featuring
David McDonnell, later of The Sand Band.
In 1998, Cammell and drummer Neil Mavers continued to work together
after the La's' breakup under the name "Cammy". The band were managed
by former La's and then current Cast manager, Rob Swerdlow. The band
recorded a nine-track album with future
Coldplay producer Ken Nelson
at Parr Street Studios in October 1999. However, the band split up
leaving the album unreleased. The album tapes re-surfaced in October
2015, with plans for a near future release. The tapes required
"baking" to remove layers of oxide that had formed on the tapes after
twenty years carried out at London's FX Copyroom.
Neil Mavers and Cammell briefly reunited once more in 2002, performing
with another former La's member, guitarist Barry Sutton in Heavy
Lemon. The band played three shows in 18 months before disbanding.
Cammell also went on perform with Sutton again in his jam-style
project Beatnik Hurricane in 2015, playing dates in Liverpool,
including residencies at The Everyman Bistro and a tour of Ireland,
most notably a sold out show in Dublin.
In 2015, previous recordings and demos by Cammell's band surfaced
online (most notably of the song "Make A Chain") which led to Cammell
forming a new band named Cami & The Reverbs, and playing sporadic
Liverpool including a support slot with
Lee Mavers – guitar, vocals (1984–1992, 1994–1995, 2005, 2011)
Mike Badger – guitar, vocals (1983–1986)
Sean Eddleston - guitar (1984)
John "Timmo" Timson – drums (1984–1985, 1986–1987)
Phil Butcher – bass (1984)
Jim "Jasper" Fearon – bass, drums (1985, 2005)
Bernie Nolan – bass (1985–1986)
Tony Clarke – drums (1985–1986)
Paul Rhodes – drums (1986)
John Power – bass, vocals (1986–1991, 2005)
Barry Walsh – drums (1986)
Paul Hemmings – guitar (1987)
Mark Birchall – drums (1987)
Peter "Cammy" Cammell – guitar, bass (1988, 1989–1992,
Iain Templeton – drums (1988)
John "Boo" Byrne – guitar (1988, 1995)
Chris Sharrock – drums (1988–1989)
Barry Sutton – guitar (1988–1989, 1991)
Neil Mavers – drums (1989–1992, 1994–1995)
James Joyce – bass (1991–1992, 1994)
Lee Garnett – guitar (1994–1995)
Jay Lewis – guitar (2005)
Nick Miniski – drums (2005)
Gary Murphy – bass (2011)
The La's (1990) No. 30 (UK), No. 196 (US)
Lost La's 1984–1986: Breakloose (1999)
Singles Collection (2001)
Lost La's 1986–1987: Callin' All (2001)
BBC in Session
BBC in Session (2006)
Lost Tunes (2008)
De Freitas Sessions '87 (2010)
Callin' All (2010)
Peak chart positions
"There She Goes"
"There She Goes" (remix)
Liverpool (1984) "I Don't Like Hanging Around"
Elegance, Charm and Deadly Danger (1985) "My Girl (Sits Like a
Reindeer)" and "Sweet 35"
Liverpool Cult Classics, Vol. 1 (2001) "Don't Lock Me Out"
Lo-Fi Acoustic Excursions (2004) "Cool Water"
Lo-Fi Electric Excursions (2006) "Midnight Shift", "Painting Dub",
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The La's at AllMusic
The La's discography at Discogs
The La's on Late Night with David Letterman
The La's VEVO
John "Timmo" Timson
Jim "Jasper" Fearon
Peter "Cammy" Camell
John "Boo" Byrne
The La's (1990)
BBC in Session
BBC in Session (2006)
"Way Out" (1987)
"There She Goes" (1988)
"Timeless Melody" (1990)
The Cherry Boys
In Search of The La's: A Secret Liverpool
The Lightning Seeds
The Viper Label