While La’s fans fidget and wait for Lee Mavers to deliver new music and John Power’s reconvening of Cast has so far failed to set the world on fire, it’s left to the band’s original founder to carry on regardless. Lucky 13 is his fourth album since the turn of the century, bristling with the rootsy rockabilly that was part of his initial vision when he first formed the band in 1984.
It was Badger who invited both Mavers and Power to join The La’s, but he left them to it in 1988 to stay true to his transatlantic passions – less Merseybeat jangle, more the saloon-shaking styles of, say, Carl Perkins or Johnny Horton. There’s a loose-limbed vibrancy to Shake It Up!, which comes across as a long lost Gene Vincent foot-tapper.
Badger’s songs hardly break new ground, but his innate understanding of the form means he’s superbly adept at aping the sounds of his heroes, liberally sprinkled with anglophile humour, such as his paean to double-decker buses, Routemaster 59. Badger never makes the mistake of taking himself too seriously, wringing laughs out of One Minute I’m Sober (Then I Got A Hangover) and the Zen skiffle of Heading For Tibet In My Cadillac.