Give the music press a Liverpudlian inch and they’ll take a bloody liberty. The installation of Lee Mavers as some kind of lost pop genius based on one song speaks volumes for Brit-crit’s sentimentality. Our manufacturing industry’s fucked, the Continent says we’re mad and America thinks we’re a joke, but hey, at least we had the Beatles! And so whenever another rough boy comes out of the North-West talking powdery gibberish the press go ape. Mavers was the one, they told us, he had ‘real soul’. “Real” meant “cheaply recorded” and “soul” meant “hoarse voice”, as they usually do in these cases. “There She Goes” was a minor hit, which turned out to be quite enough for a bit of bogus mythmaking. It made grown men cry, it was the greatest single ever recorded, it was certainly not an idle bit of ’65 beat pastiche which was only two minutes long but still managed to get boring after one.

Like the Flying Dutchwoman, I have wandered the Earth since the mid-80s trying to find somebody who can tell me why “There She Goes” is any good, without resorting to the phrase “perfect pop”. When indie bands get called ‘perfect pop’, it means two things: they’re not doing anything new, and nobody’s buying it anyway. “There She Goes” was re-released in 1990 with much ado and got to No. 15 or something, then dropped out a week or two later – the public obviously felt Vanilla Ice’s brand of pop was a bit more ‘perfect’ than Lee Mavers’, and maybe they were right. Of course sales don’t equal quality, but let’s not forget how many number ones were racked up by the Beatles, whose asses Mavers and everyone influenced by him kissed daily. “There She Goes” was ‘classic’, alright, but only if ‘classic’ means style not quality. It’s a Franklin Mint souvenir plate reproduction of Merseybeat, not some glorious rebirth.

It’s considerably easier to find people who think the La’s sole 1990 album is dreadful, though. Lee Mavers, for one. He notoriously decided the producer has messed up his ‘pure’ sound and distanced himself from the record as soon as it came out. This may have been canny: had he stood up and said “‘Doledrums’ is a brilliant song, not at all trite, and ‘Looking Glass’ well deserves to be that long, and ‘Feelings’ is truly timeless, not a bad nursery rhyme, and the one about the pirate ship is – well, it’s just great, OK? Anyone who says it’s a knuckle-bitingly annoying knock off is just soulless.” well, then his legend might not be quite so strong.

Since then, nothing. The odd filler piece in the NME, and of course the bassist went off to form Cast (who were the same, but worse). A year or so ago some American Christian Pop band DARED to touch Mavers’ sacred hem and cover “There She Goes”, and of course the purists were foaming: such blasphemy! It sounded precisely the same, as drab and repetitive as it always had done, just with a mealy-mouthed girl singing instead. Sainted for one single by a press desperate to avoid a changing musical world, Lee Mavers is the most overrated artist in pop history: somewhere in his riddled brain, he knows that he can’t ever make another record for just that reason. The country has too many buskers as it is.