Chicago Tribune - 27 June 1991

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Chicago Tribune - 27 June 1991

Postby Neil83 » Sun Oct 30, 2011 6:43 pm ... cord-music

Soft Sell
Leader Lee Mavers Detests The La`s` Debut Album
June 27, 1991|By Greg Kot, Rock music critic.

The La`s eponymous debut album ranks as one of the best records released this year and has been creating a buzz unusual for an act steeped in music rather than fashion, but don`t tell that to the British quartet`s singer-guitarist, Lee Mavers.

``I don`t like the record at all, I can`t listen to one song on it,`` he says in the same thick Liverpudlian accent with which he sings.

He predicts that when the band makes its Chicago debut Thursday at Cabaret Metro, the audience will ``be angry-not at us, they`ll be angry for us because of what`s been done to our music on record. That`s good, because that`s power, that`s energy.``

Mavers is upset because he thinks the band has been dealt with unfairly by the British branch of its record company, Polygram.

``We got signed up on the strength of demos we did in August 1986, which cost us 15 pounds to do in a day-and it`s our best recorded work to date,`` he says. ``Over the next three years, we worked with seven different producers that were forced upon us in seven different studios, and all the music was taken out of it.``

Mavers is nonetheless relieved that ``The La`s`` is finally out. A compilation of singles, it clears the decks for the band to record without outside interference.

``The music we make together is raw and organic,`` he says. ``But when it`s filtered through all this digital technology, it doesn`t sound good.

``Now we`re in total control of our own work. We give them only what we want from now on. All they`re gonna do is print `em up and send `em out.``

Reared in the blue-collar town that spawned the Beatles, Mavers said he learned the value of willpower there.

``There are two options in Liverpool: Do it yourself, or don`t,`` he says. ``You can easily be put into this school and onto that conveyor belt. You learn quickly that there`s a difference between truth and reality. I`ve been trying to bring the two together ever since.``

Mavers, 28, and bassist John Power, 23, formed the band in 1986 and eventually were joined by Mavers` brother, Neil, 19, on drums and Cammy, 23, on guitar.

``We did it because the music around us was total rubbish, soulless,`` he says. ``The Manchester fad is already passed in England, because there`s no real content. It`s been a long time since something happened from the street.``

Mavers` working-class passion and restless energy bubble through in his songs: terse, rapturously melodic, hard-rocking snapshots of dreamers and rebels that evoke classic influences.

``Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, James Brown, Captain Beefheart, early Who, Bob Marley, Louis Jordan, Duke Ellington, Ella`s voice-that`s the backbone, the real soulful stuff that you can learn from and grow with,`` Mavers says.

``There`s a thing that ties them all together-a raw, rich rrrrrrrrrrr! A growl. A feel that can`t be bought.

``It`s not a new sound we have, but something genuinely ancient,`` he adds. ``Because what`s right has always been right.``

Album review

The La's The La's (Go! Discs/London...
February 14, 1991|By Greg Kot.

The La`s

The La`s (Go! Discs/London) (STAR)(STAR)(STAR)(STAR)

With a dozen great pop tunes in under 36 minutes, the La`s sound as though they couldn`t care less about the latest trend in England. The quartet`s thick Liverpudlian accents and roughly strummed acoustic guitars sound invitingly unscrubbed and raw. Songwriter Lee Mavers mixes Billy Bragg- style punk folk, early Fleetwood Mac-style blues, skiffles, dance-hall ditties and Merseybeat guitar jangle without strain or contrivance. His terse lyrics convey the restlessness and cynicism of English youth, but the rapture of his melodies provides a way out. Even the nearly 8-minute-long ``Lookin` Glass`` doesn`t overstay its welcome, while ``There She Goes,`` ``Doledrum``and the aptly titled ``Timeless Melody`` sound like minor classics. This is the kind of wonderful record Ray Davies and the Kinks were making in the late `60s, while the rest of the world was jumping on the acid-rock bandwagon. Similarly, Lee Mavers is following his heart while the rest of England is recycling house music. The Kinks fell into commercial decline while making the best albums of their lives. Let`s hope the La`s get what they deserve.


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