As discussed in a previous post, record companies have had to get a bit more savvy with how they present music these days. Back in the day, when vinyl/CD/tape was the only way you could get hold of music, sometimes the quality/thought behind how the music was packaged sometimes left a bit to be desired. Now we get remastered multi-disc sets, deluxe versions of regular releases, extravagant packaging and presentation that occasionally screams quality.
Of course, there is also the opportunity to repackage music and to dig up outtakes, live takes, weird edits, strange remixes…. anything that can be sold.
Which brings me to The La’s. I bloody love The La’s. I remember hearing There She Goes in 1988 and it just blew me away. You must remember at the time that 60’s-tinged melodic pop was about as fashionable as Italian House is now. I eagerly awaited the LP. And waited and waited…. until the end of 1990 – some gestation period. Anyhow, The La’s finally came out. The band disowned it. I actually wasn’t that impressed at the time, having heard a few alternative mixes on earlier singles and having a bootleg tape of other takes. But it has since become a bit of a classic. What next? I thought. Well, nothing. An enormously promising band just stopped. When Oasis came out in 1994, they proclaimed that they were finishing what The La’s started. No shit Sherlock.
So the story ended. Or did it? After 1990 There She Goes continued to get much airplay (rumour has it that it brought its writer Lee Mavers a pretty comfortable living and probably stopped him from doing anything else like actually making a follow-up.) Lee retired to bring up his family and the legend started to grow…. he was a smackhead…. he talked some sort of scouse psychobabble…… he had two heads – that sort of thing. There She Goes appeared on loads of films and adverts and even suffered a rubbish cover version (Sixpence None the Richer anyone?). And no new releases. There was a reunion tour in 2005 where they pretty much played the same set that they had been doing so since about 1988 and since then, nothing. Am I bitter? well, a bit. I know it is actually up to Lee Mavers if he can be arsed to make another album, but put it this way – if you saw Wayne Rooney play football when he was 16/17 and then he decided to retire, wouldn’t you feel a bit cheated?
Well, still no new releases, but the excavation teams at Universal (who inherited the Go! Discs catalogue) and Viper (run by an ex-La or two) started to bring out new albums…. some of you may remember the grumbles when CD came out in 1987. People complained that record companies were getting the consumer to buy albums they already own! Blimey, if only they could have seen into the future.
Currently I have five different releases of There She Goes and three of the album (original CD, remastered CD with extra tracks, Deluxe double CD). I know that no one twisted my arm to buy them, but I’m a fan!
Now we have a new 4-disc set – Callin’ All . It looks lavishly packaged (see picture above) and includes loads more unreleased stuff (fortunately The La’s recorded most of their catalogue multiple times. Well, fortunately for Universal). This is exactly the sort of package aimed at the fan who thinks that they have everything. It looks nice, you get 4 CDs crammed with live tracks, radio sessions and outtakes (92 in total) all for about £27. That’s bloody good value. Think about it – when CDs came out in the late 80’s, a 10 track album cost you the equivalent of about £22 in today’s money. Will I buy it? Damn right I will, even though I have a lot of the stuff on bootleg.
See? They’ve bloody won.
Now, when is that follow-up album coming out, eh Lee? That could be strung out for another 25 years….