Book: M. Macefield - In Search of the La's - ISBN 1905139314

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Book: M. Macefield - In Search of the La's - ISBN 1905139314

Postby Syl » Fri Nov 07, 2003 9:35 pm

Please note: The book has been re-published in a revised \ updated edition.

Late 2011 \ Early 2012.

New ISBN codes for the 2011 \ 2012 issue.


In Search of the La's: A Secret Liverpool. by M.W. Macefield

ISBN-13: 9781905139316
ISBN-10: 1905139314

Forum members start receiving the new edition from page 37 of the thread.


Matthew Macefield

Having spent a long time researching and writing what became my book, it's great to think that it will finally be out shortly and that fans (and potential fans) will be able to have someting tangible in their hands concerning one of Britain's most underrated bands and songwriters. When I first started casting around for scraps of information about The La's, La'zarus was still pretty new as I recall, but it was still an inspiration - that I was not alone in my appreciation and admiration of Mavers et al. That someone might care at the end of it, if I could pull it off. It seems only right, then, that I've asked Sylvain to help me out with a little mention of the book on his site, knowing that it's a direct link (the only link) to the La's fans still out there.

This is not a 'My book's come out - please buy it' pitch. Hire it from the library if you can, or borrow a friend's copy! Whatever, I think it will have something of interest for even the most ardent fan, and I think it is worth the time of anyone smitten with Mavers and his songs, the idea of Mavers, even. The book is a bio of the band, but it is not a Lewishon-esque study. Even if that was possible with The La's (which I doubt) I don't think it would be much of a read. It's more of a journey book, a bit of an adventure, and we all need some adventure don't we?

That's all really - if I said anymore I'd probably spoil the enjoyment of the book. If anyone want to put up any questions then I'll try to answer them, or give Sylvain an answer to pass on. I am hoping to have a small 'thing' - not a launch really, just a small event at a Liverpool bookshop probably early in the New Year. Just a chance to say a few words about the book and it's genesis to the people who want to hear, with maybe a little Q&A after and some free sandwiches (maybe!) It's not firmly arranged yet, but I'll keep La'zarus posted...
---

IN SEARCH OF THE LA'S - A SECRET LIVERPOOL

Artist: The La's
Author: Matthew Macefield
ISBN: 1900924633
Weight: 600 grams
Pages: 192
Product Type: Book
Book Type: PB
Availability: Oct 2003
Price: £11.00

---

Helter Skelter Publishing.

Product detail & order page:

www.helterskelterbooks.com - In Search Of The La's


---

Many thanks to Matthew Macefield for providing an extract for La'zarus:

Chapter Eleven

Raindance
(Or, Adventures close up to the Lightbulb)


“The plain fact is that music per se means nothing: it is sheer sound, and the interpreter can do no more with it than his own capacities, mental and spiritual, will allow. And the same applies to the listener” – Sir Thomas Beecham


It’s a cold Friday in November as I speed through the Liverpool back streets in my small car. I have to wipe my windscreen periodically to stop it misting up, as countless shop fronts, cars and people’s faces speed past outside.
Lee Mavers, in the passenger seat, is talking incessantly. Skipping quickly from one topic of conversation to another: unemployment, the city of Liverpool and the breakdown of community in society, Thatcherism, Everton football club and guitar repairers. Jasper, in the back, banters backward and forward with Mavers – they’re old friends and it seems as though everything they talk about forms part of a long discussion they’ve been having forever. I’m trying to listen (and join in now and again) but I need to keep my eye on the road.
Mavers periodically directs me to go left or right, down ever-smaller backstreets. It’s amazing to me how he knows his way – we’re on the other side of the city from where he lives and we must have travelled five or six miles and taken at least two dozen sharp turns in quick succession before he finally tells me to pull up in a dead-end street apparently no different from hundreds we’ve passed. We get out and Mavers disappears over the road into the yard of one of the houses nearby. We follow. When we get into the small yard, he’s fumbling with a chunky padlock which secures a big green door: that’s when it hits me.
I turn back, go outside and look up at the house: I realise that I’ve been here before, been to this house before – the very same house.

But how have I got here? Well, let’s take a step back in time.
After I decide that I want to talk to Mavers – or, at least, to see if he wants to talk – I toy with ideas of how to get to speak to him. I don’t know where he lives exactly, but various sources offer to either take me or make an introduction, but I don’t get the impression that any of them are regularly in touch with him, and I don’t want to make a bad first impression. I also rule out finding where he lives and just turning up unannounced – I wouldn’t be best pleased if someone turned up on my door step, and I want to avoid coming across like some nutty neo-Mark Chapman.
In the end, as with so much that has happened to me while I’ve been doing this, it’s simple luck. I go to interview a source who, unbeknown to me, rings Mavers just after I’ve left him. He comes out to find me and catches me up. Before I know it, I’m being driven to Huyton for an audience with the man himself, who is apparently keen to meet me (at least, he didn’t say he didn’t want to meet me).
Not expecting to meet Mavers at such short notice, I’m not at all prepared with any detailed questions or anything, so I put all my hope in coming across as sincere and focused in what I’m trying to do. It’s not easy, though. I’ve never actually met anybody ‘famous’ before and, whichever way you look at it, he is famous, to a degree. Plus, he is someone I am increasingly starting to admire as a musician and songwriter and, dammit, artist.
I can’t help but have butterflies in my stomach.
I don’t know it at the time but, as we travel to Mavers’ house, I’m about to start realising how wrong some of the sources I’ve talked to have been, and how wrong I’ve been about some of the assumptions I’ve made. I get the first sense of this when we pull into the driveway of Mavers’ house. I can’t honestly say what I was expecting, but it wasn’t anything as, well, normal as what I actually find. It’s just a semi-detached house on a street. Maybe part of me was expecting big neon signs: “La’s Central” or “The bloke who wrote ‘There She Goes’ lives here!” I don’t know. I decide that this is my first taste of the difference between rock’n’roll reality and real-world reality.
We pull up and get out of the car. My heart is racing. I toy with the idea of doing a runner there and then. Two thoughts run through my mind. The first is a comment someone once made about Marianne Faithfull: “She’s the caretaker of her own legend.” I remember thinking about that for a long time and eventually deciding that it was more criticism than compliment. Ever since it’s bothered me that maybe I’ll find the same true of Mavers. The other thing I keep recalling is the old adage that you should never meet your heroes because you’ll always come away disappointed. How can any person ever really live up to your expectations of them? We never stop to recognise how unrealistic admiration and adoration can be. I don’t want to be disappointed by Mavers. Anyone else: fine. But I badly don’t want to be disappointed after meeting him.
My source knocks on the door and, after a pause, it opens. Standing there, although older, leaner, with much shorter hair and a baby under his arm, is unmistakably Lee Mavers.
“Alright, la, how’s it going?”
“Fine. You?” I reply
“Yeah, sound, la, sound.”
It turns out that this is all I manage to say for about an hour – I’m grateful that my source and Mavers haven’t seen each other for a while because they chat away, catching up on this and that. We go into the lounge and I’m introduced to Jasper, who’s also there, but I sit saying almost nothing while the three of them talk, just sort of nodding at various times so I don’t seem impolite.
Inside Mavers’ house things are, again, not what I expect. There are no La’s posters on the walls advertising old gigs or the like. No massive collection of vinyl (in my mind, it could only be vinyl). Worryingly, there don’t seem to be any guitars, either. In fact, the only thing obvious from a quick inspection is that children live there – toys and colouring books sit stacked in corners or on sides. Children’s shouts can be heard somewhere deeper in the house, but it’s quiet in the lounge. The television is on, tuned to the football results with the sound turned down.
I decide that whipping out my tape recorder and stuffing it under Mavers’ nose isn’t a great idea. It just doesn’t seem right. He turns to me finally.
“So, why are you wanting to write a book about The La’s?”
They all turn to look at me, and I’m struck dumb for a moment. Then I launch into a brief summary of what I’ve written in the introduction to this book, tagging on a bit about how much I admire the music and how much I admire Mavers’ songwriting, and how chuffed I am to actually be able to meet him. He cuts me short with “I’m only a man, la, just a person” but he says it indulgently so I don’t feel too bad.
Then I say that I feel I have to ask on behalf of all La’s fans: will any more music come out?
“It’s been hard, la. I can feel it coming back again, pulling me back [the music] and I have to go with that when I feel it.”
This seems to break the ice a little more and we start talking about The La’s’ album. He tells me it’s @#%$, that I should really hear the early demos. Before I know it, he’s produced an old tape and slotted in into his hi-fi and the sound of ‘Son of a Gun’ is flooding the lounge. It’s cleaner, sharper and more together than the album version. The music draws Mavers’ children into the room – young boy and girl, both about ten or eleven, and baby twins who, you can tell, have only just started walking.
An electric guitar-powered ‘Liberty Ship’ comes on next and suddenly Mavers’ eldest son is jumping onto the windowsill and chanting out the verses which he obviously knows by heart:

I am the sailor, the ocean slave
Fill your sail with the breath I gave…

Things start to get a little surreal when Mavers tells him to calm down and come down. The two of them end up chasing round the sofa I’m sat on while the music plays.
Eventually, things (and children) calm down and my source and Jasper head home, leaving Mavers and I alone. It’s getting dark outside now and I make my pitch to him about this ‘journey’ that I’m on and wanting to talk about the band and their story. He tells me he’d be pleased to help and spend time talking. Before I know it, he is talking, reminiscing about the time he wrote ‘There She Goes’.
“I remember one night I was just running up and down the G scale on those top two strings and whoa! There it was, that riff, and then everything else just fell into place and it just swept me away.”
Inspired, he rushes from the room and comes back with a guitar. He enthuses to me about the new tuning or way of tuning that he’s come across, and how it makes the songs ring out. To demonstrate, he gives me a quick burst of the Stones’ ‘Jumping Jack Flash’. It’s great. Part of me is already kicking myself for not taping all this, but it still doesn’t feel right, and I’m determined to go with my instinct. I ask about fixing up a time to meet. It’s clear that weekends are far too loud and hectic with his children being around, so we try to pick a weekday in the near future. He reaches behind him for his diary and starts checking dates. I look closer. It’s not a diary: it’s this season’s Everton fixtures list. I smile.
We talk a bit more and he lends me the demo tape he’s been playing and a very tatty-looking book about the Beatles which he tells me really inspired him when he read it. Eventually I have to leave to catch my train. On the way home, I’m filled with a sense of having achieved what I initially set out to do – I’ve met Mavers, shaken his hand, told him I think his songs are great. I know I’m still going to carry on with the larger task of the book but, for now, I’ve got this top-of-the-mountain-after-a-big-climb feeling.
Over the coming days, we speak a few times on the phone. He tells me he’s recently started renting a little place which he’s kitted out to record. Do I think it would be a good idea to go there and listen to some of the new songs? You bet I do.

That is how I come to be standing outside said house deep in the Liverpool suburbs, after having driven Mavers and the ever-present Jasper across the city.
I know for definite that I’ve been here before because this is the very house that I came to see Mike Badger at, only he was upstairs and we’re going in downstairs (it’s effectively two different properties, flat above and ground floor below). Mavers and Badger each renting different parts of the same house? Talk about coincidence. Except it isn’t, but we’ll come to that.
We go inside. It’s dark. One large frosted window at the end has to light the whole room – and it’s a long, deep room. It’s also cold, really freezing, and I can see Mavers’ breath in the air as he fiddles with a small gas heater which has seen better days. The lights go on and I see the room properly for the first time.
It’s obvious now why Mavers’ house was (almost) devoid of guitars, because they’re all here: black-and-white Fender Stratocaster, red Fifties Telecaster, what looks like an original Sixties Hofner bass (the kind Paul McCartney used to play in the Beatles), various acoustics and a few other guitars I don’t recognise. One of the equipment cases stacked to the side has stencilled lettering on it: P Townshend. There’s also a drum kit set up, loads of amplifiers and, at the far end of the room, several mikes are positioned on stands ready for use. I hear Mavers flick on a switch somewhere and red power-on lights glow from several of the amps. I hear white noise arrive in the background. On a small makeshift table sits a large pad on which are written lots of tantalising new song titles, none of which I recognise: ‘Human Race’, ‘Robberman’, ‘She Came Down’ and ‘Raindance’.


TO BE CONTINUED…
Last edited by Syl on Wed Jun 08, 2005 7:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Matthew Macefield - In Search of the La's

Postby Syl » Fri Nov 07, 2003 9:43 pm

<br>
There you go people, straight from the author's mouth.<br>
<br>
This thread <!--EZCODE BOLD START--><strong>is</strong><!--EZCODE BOLD END--> open, but please keep things civilised.<br>
<br>
Sy1.<br>
<br>


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Re: Matthew Macefield - In Search of the La's

Postby Syl » Fri Nov 07, 2003 9:50 pm

<br>
Forgot to mention:<br>
<br>
It might not be possible to get your hands on the book until the <!--EZCODE BOLD START--><strong>1st. Week of December 2003</strong><!--EZCODE BOLD END--><br>
<br>
Just remember that if you order the book online or through your local book seller.<br>
<br>
Sy1.<br>
<br>


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Re: Matthew Macefield - In Search of the La's

Postby Tony » Fri Nov 07, 2003 9:52 pm

See the cover's changed, looks better now in my opinion! Mr Macefield's not given much away regarding the content but maybe that'll lead to a few nice surprises, who knows <!--EZCODE EMOTICON START :) --><img src=http://www.ezboard.com/images/emoticons/smile.gif ALT=":)"><!--EZCODE EMOTICON END-->

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Re: Matthew Macefield - In Search of the La's

Postby Anonymous » Sat Nov 08, 2003 4:18 am

Does he say anything about me in the book?like an In depth analysis on some posts i've made and that?Is anything in about that time scallywag said about 3 moons ago he'd send me the radio sessions and never got round to it?is stuff like that mentioned?

<p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://pub88.ezboard.com/bthelas.showUserPublicProfile?gid=huytonred77>huytonred77</A> at: 11/8/03 3:31 am<br></i>
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Re: Matthew Macefield - In Search of the La's

Postby Syl » Sat Nov 08, 2003 8:00 am

<br>
You see, at this point I could say, ' huytonred77, check your inbox ', but you have the thing disabled..<br>
<br>
Sy1.

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book

Postby Anonymous » Sat Nov 08, 2003 10:11 am

yeh im always interested in reading when it comes to La's stuff, I do enjoy a good music book - most of the ones I've got do concern ''cult'' artists, usually the ones who go off the rails a bit, like roky erickson (13th floor elevators), barrett (floyd) and arthur lee (love), so that'll be interesting to have a spy through<br>
<br>
i wonder if Mr Macefield will take up the option to write a book about Shack too... that'd be a mad old read as well <!--EZCODE EMOTICON START :D --><img src=http://www.ezboard.com/images/emoticons/happy.gif ALT=":D"><!--EZCODE EMOTICON END--> <br>


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love books?

Postby Anonymous » Sat Nov 08, 2003 2:19 pm

sorry to get too off topic, but expecting that there is probably a fair bit of interest here ...<br>
<br>
pegasus carousel by michael stuart-ware<br>
<!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1900924595/ref=sr_aps_books_1_1/202-6485116-4631046">www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obi...16-4631046</a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br>
<br>
forever changes by andrew hultkrans<br>
<!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0826414931/ref=sr_aps_books_1_1/202-6485116-4631046">www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obi...16-4631046</a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br>
<br>
and there's still arthur's to come ...<br>
<br>
i'm expecting a letter off waterstones when they've got the la's book in, i can't wait.

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question for the author

Postby Anonymous » Sat Nov 08, 2003 5:02 pm

"The book is a bio of the band, but it is not a Lewishon-esque study. Even if that was possible with The La's (which I doubt) I don't think it would be much of a read."<br>
<br>
That's an interesting comment. Care to elaborate on that at all? <br>
<br>
I personally would love to see books like that done for the La's, My Bloody Valentine and Sly and the Family Stone or other groups who seem to consistently escape any sort of serious journalism. <br>
<br>
People like Johnny Rogan can do huge volumes of work on people that don't want to co-operate with the interview process (Moz et al) within only few years of the Smiths dissolution and yet I can't get more than a few pages on some of the most influencial artists of the last 20 years. These people must have some @#%$-off scary lawyers....<!--EZCODE EMOTICON START :rolleyes --><img src=http://www.ezboard.com/images/emoticons/eyes.gif ALT=":rolleyes"><!--EZCODE EMOTICON END-->

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Re: question for the author

Postby iz rite la » Sat Nov 08, 2003 9:26 pm

nice one fella thats all i can say, for takin the time an effort to write a book on what means the world to some people, but not much to a whole lotta people, so yer obviously in it for the music<br>
pre ordered mine in waterstones already, keep us informed on if theres gonna be a 'launch' in any shops in the 'pool

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books

Postby Anonymous » Sun Nov 09, 2003 12:45 pm

wasnt the michael stuart one also released as a CD-ROM, he emailed me and a few others off love forums/sites and offered them as limited editions, didnt get them meself like, but there you go<br>
<br>
I've got a LOVE book from 1980 or something, looks like a fan's job, lo-fi, dodgy print etc, quite thick though, ''the love story'' or something its called, good stuff<br>
<br>
does ''the castle'' fanzine still go??? that was a good read, every other month it came out, £5 a go, and it was the bible for Arthurly fans...<br>
<br>
MOJO also did an arthur lee book too, aint read it tho, limited edition

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The Author Responds...

Postby Macey » Sun Nov 09, 2003 3:37 pm

"The book is a bio of the band, but it is not a Lewishon-esque study. Even if that was possible with The La's (which I doubt) I don't think it would be much of a read."<br>
<br>
That's an interesting comment. Care to elaborate on that at all?”<br>
<br>
I certainly would!<br>
<br>
When I started to try to seriously get detailed info about the ‘diary’ of the band, I found it to be a very difficult job. While there are some established acknowledged ‘sessions’ e.g. the Attic, the Pink Museum etc and other agreed ‘events’, there was also clearly a lot of impromptu stuff going on, grab-bag recording here and there. This seems particularly true of the early days. I mean – can you even count how many ‘early demos’ there are of ‘Son of a Gun’?<br>
<br>
Even people I interviewed couldn’t agree on basic details at times. For example, Neil & Cammy were adamant that certain people were in the band at certain times, when they obviously weren’t (i.e. it’s clear from contemporary sources) and were on sessions we know they aren’t. This is not me criticising Cammy&Neil, because they were a great laugh and very helpful, but it just illustrates the problem I faced. I am a fan of ‘The Complete Beatles Chronicle’ by Lewishon, but I can’t remember the last time it came of my shelf during the last decade. Whereas I was very drawn to Ian Macdonald’s ‘Revolution in the Head’ because of the way he put THE MUSIC first, and kind of drew in the elements on the story from there. And although you didn’t have total-all-encompassing-diary-detail, you still have a great read and feel much closer to the music. (What a fantastic writer Macdonald was – has anyone read his Nick Drake article? For me that’s probably the best bit of music writing since I can remember – although, it’s true, you have to be a fan to really get into it.<br>
This is it:<br>
<!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href="http://www.algonet.se/~iguana/DRAKE/exiled.html">www.algonet.se/~iguana/DRAKE/exiled.html</a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--> )<br>
<br>
The lack of definite agreed info was the key problem – it doesn’t seem that any one person has the whole story – not even Mavers. I likened it to a car accident in the book – everyone saw it but no-one can agree on the details! Sometimes, it’s true, there would be a lot of source material available for a part of the tale, but other times it seemed like an empty void. The thing with the book is: I didn’t ever really think it could be a book, probably right up until the time I met Lee. It didn’t seem like it would all hang together. I told people it would be a book – mainly so they’d take me seriously and give me chance, but in my mind I was hoping that it could end up being a fanzine thing. Perhaps one interview transcript per edition!<br>
The realization that the search itself was also interesting was something that came a bit more slowly, you know? But I was very impressed with that book ‘Searching for J D Salinger’ and that fact that the guy’s attempt to track Salinger down was as interesting as Salinger himself. <br>
<br>
All this is not to say that the book isn’t about The La’s – it is! It’s just that my search is the kind of background against which the story plays.<br>
<br>
Thanks for the supportive comments so far!<br>
<br>
<!--EZCODE EMOTICON START :) --><img src=http://www.ezboard.com/images/emoticons/smile.gif ALT=":)"><!--EZCODE EMOTICON END-->

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Re: The Author Responds...

Postby Syl » Sun Nov 09, 2003 4:13 pm

<br>
Nice one Macey, you made it here.<br>
<br>
Sy1.

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interview transcripts?

Postby Anonymous » Sun Nov 09, 2003 4:58 pm

"...in my mind I was hoping that it could end up being a fanzine thing. Perhaps one interview transcript per edition!"<br>
<br>
Did you record your interviews? Any chance you would consider posting the transcripts here or encode them to .mp3 for fans to listen to? Of course that's assuming that Lee and the band would condone their release. I just got the Eden Studio demos and I was disappointed there wasn't more studio chatter. I'm sure Sy1 could give you proper server statistics, but I would guess that one of the most popular videos on this site is the one of John and Lee on Much Music because you actually get to see them talk about their music. <br>
<br>
Thanks for your comments so far, you've certainly got my money for this one <!--EZCODE EMOTICON START :) --><img src=http://www.ezboard.com/images/emoticons/smile.gif ALT=":)"><!--EZCODE EMOTICON END--> <br>


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Re: The Author Responds...

Postby Stuart82 » Sun Nov 09, 2003 5:08 pm

.....that's interesting, I mean, we often on here say, ''oh, so and so was on that recording'' or ''so and so was in the band when X happened''.......but it would seem even the main players are unsure!.......which show's in some way's what a mess it was......<br>
<br>
...As far as the book goes, I'm mostly interested with Lee's pre-La's career.....Neuklon etc etc......cause I'm sure there is more to this ''I just picked up a guitar when I was 22 and started writing song's'' thing than he was letting on.......

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