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AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #99 : THE GO-BETWEENS (Vol 2)

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I said most of what I had to say yesterday. Here’s some more great songs.

Side One

That Way from Before Hollywood (1983) : lead vocal by Grant McLennan

Until now, I don’t think I, or indeed anyone, has ever opened up an ICA with the closing track of an LP. It just goes to show how many great songs there were back in the day that they could put this gem at the end.  It certainly would make you want to get up and turn the record back over immediately.

The House That Jack Kerouac Built from Tallulah (1987) : lead vocal by Robert Forster

Having failed to crack open the markets with the first four albums, everyone involved threw the kitchen sink and the rest into the recording of Tallulah including the addition of a fifth member on violin and oboe. It was a record greeted with some scepticism on its release as a result of to its lush production and move away from indie-guitar pop, but which is now regarded as a bona-fide classic.

The Wrong Road from Liberty Belle and The Black Diamond Express (1986) : lead vocals by Grant McLennan

The thing is, the path that would lead to Tallulah had in some ways been set by this track from the album released the previous year.  The addition of violin, cellos, viola and organ take this to places the band hadn’t explored before and the result was one of their finest ever songs.  Epic.

Was There Anything I Could Do? from 16 Lovers Lane (1988) : lead vocals by Grant McLennan

FFS. How did this single not get any airplay?

Surfing Magazines from The Friends of Rachel Worth (2000) : lead vocal by Robert Forster

Here’s a band that came out with some of the best lyrics of their generation falling back on a variation of la-la-la-la-la for the chorus and pulling it off with some style.

Side Two

Bye Bye Pride from Talullah (1987) : lead vocal by Grant McLennan

In which the decision to bring in a new member who plays oboe is totally justified in four minutes flat.

Rock and Roll Friend b-side to Was There Anything I Could Do? (1988) : lead vocal by Robert Forster

A song that became synonymous with Robert’s efforts to get back in the saddle after Grant’s shock death in 2006.  It must have been very tempting just to pack it all in. Instead, he went into the studio and recorded The Evangelist, his first solo LP in 12 years and hit the road and in every show he played this (a song he had re-recorded himself in 1996) and dedicated to his late band mate.  It’s worthy of a place on this ICA for that alone notwithstanding it is such a fine number.

I Just Get Caught Out from Tallulah (1987) : lead vocal by Robert Forster

Another great little failure of a pop single.  I defy you to listen and not dance.

Dusty In Here from Before Hollywood (1983) : lead vocal by Grant McLennan

A  ballad just to mix things up a bit and because it fits in well at this point on this ICA.

Dive For Your Memory from 16 Lovers Lane (1988) : lead vocal by Robert Forster

Couldn’t think of a more fitting way to end this ICA. The other song that Robert often dedicates nowadays to Grant; there’s something poignant that he once wrote a line ‘I miss my friend.’

Don’t we all?

Bonus 45 : The debut single from 1978.

mp3 : The Go-Betweens : Lee Remick
mp3 : The Go-Betweens : Karen

Tune in tomorrow for ICA #100 as it features a tale and a half from Badger.

AN IMAGINARY CONCEPT ALBUM : #98 : THE GO-BETWEENS (Vol 1)

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Continuing the headlong rush towards #100 in the series.

It’s impossible to do justice to The Go-Betweens in one ICA, so here’s the first of two successive days of me tearing what little is left of my hair out to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

Side One

Man O’ Sand To Girl O’ Sea single (1983) : lead vocal by Robert Forster

As I’ve said before, the single (and its b-side) which was indirectly responsible for me starting to blog back in 2006.  An absolute belter of a 45 – but let’s face it they all were – and a completely different version from that found on the LP Spring Hill Fair. Angular guitars, a pleading desperate lyric and a rhythm section that drives things along to a perfect beat….oh and not forgetting the vocal harmonies.  Perfection in just under three and a half minutes.

Streets Of Your Town from 16 Lovers Lane (1988) : lead vocal by Grant McLennan

See that thing I mentioned about perfection….feel free to apply it to this too. This was rightly released as a single and was the closest they ever got to a chart hit…..when it reached #80.  There’s all the evidence you need to realise just how criminally ignored this band throughout a stellar career that saw nine studio albums all told (six in the period 81-88 and three when they later re-formed between 2000-2005, the last of these being just 12 months ahead of Grant’s unexpected death from a heart attack at the early age of 48)

Going Blind from The Friends Of Rachel Worth (2000) : lead vocal by Grant McLennan

The re-formed band was Grant & Robert with musicians who hadn’t been part of the original line-up but whose pedigree was incredibly impressive.  The keyboards came from Sam Coomes who has long been an integral part of the USA west coast indie scene while his then wife, Janet Weiss, played the drums.  On this track, Janet was joined in the studio by her two fellow band mates from Sleater-KinneyCorin Tucker on vocals and Carrie Brownstein on guitar.  This indie super-group in turn gave us something delightfully 80s at the turn of the century.

Here Comes A City from Oceans Apart (2005) : lead vocal by Robert Forster

If you need proof that the second incarnation of the band could make music that was as enjoyably catchy and infectious as in their mid 80s pomp, then look no further than this, the opening track of what proved to be their final ever record.  Sure, it owes a lot to the style and delivery of David Byrne but there’s little wrong with that.

Spring Rain from Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express (1986) : lead vocal by Robert Forster

Yet another flop single.  It always bemused me that so few fans of The Smiths fell for the charms of The Go-Betweens given the fact that the two bands were responsible for the best indie-pop with a guitar bent of the era.

Side Two

Right Here from Talullah (1987) : lead vocal by Grant McLennan

Another great pop song that was given a release as a single only to be criminally ignored.  I make no apologies for the fact that so many 45s are on this volume; it only demonstrates just how cloth-eared radio station producers were in their continual failure to not put the songs on daytime playlists.

When She Sang About Angels from The Friends of Rachel Worth (2000) : lead vocal by Robert Forster

This was a band, who when they slowed things down, were every bit as effective as when they cranked out another indie-pop classic.  Two examples on this ICA are back-to-back – this first being from the comeback album in 2000 with a tune that Roddy Frame himself would have been proud of…..followed by….

Cattle and Cane single (1983) : lead vocal by Grant McLennan

The single version is some 20 seconds shorter than the version on the LP Before Hollywood.  I’ve mentioned before that this is a very special song to me for a number of reasons; nowadays, it makes me sad as it reminds me of Grant’s sudden and very unexpected death but it is a song, along with a few others, that I associate with some of my happiest days, weeks and months on Planet Earth when I fell properly in love for the first time.

Some facts : It was written as a recollection of childhood in a London flat in an effort to combat homesickness with the band as far away as can be from their native Australia, cold and skint and fearing they’ll never succeed.  It was written using the acoustic guitar belonging to the owner of the flat while he lay comatose from drug abuse.  The guitar belonged to Nick Cave.

Sublimely beautiful.

Draining The Pool For You from Spring Hill Fair (1984) : lead vocal by Robert Forster

One of best things about The Go-Betweens is the complete contrast in styles from the two lead singers.  It enabled a much wider range of songs and tunes to emerge from the recording process and things were never dull.  Robert is the first to admit that he’s most the most classical of singers, but he’s still going strong today releasing a series of top-notch solo albums and when he tours he’ll slip in quite a few of the tunes from the days of his old band.  I love it when he plays this break-up song that is witty and clever and far from sad.

This Girl, Black Girl b-side to Man O’ Sand To Girl O’ Sea single (1983) : lead vocal by Grant McLennan

Just because.

Volume 2 coming your way tomorrow.

ANOTHER CLASSIC 45 WITH GREAT B-SIDES

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All three of these songs have been featured on this blog in the past, but not as one posting.

The single was released in October 1988 but again failed mysteriously to give The Go-Betweens a hit single.

mp3 : The Go-Betweens – Was There Anything I Could Do?

As the heading of the post indicates, the single came with more than decent b-sides. Here’s those from the 12″ release:-

mp3 : The Go-Betweens – Rock n Roll Friend
mp3 : The Go-Betweens – Mexican Postcard

Enjoy

PS

The blog has sort of taken a bit of a back seat in recent weeks as I’ve spent loads of time either watching football on the telly or making the most of the light nights and playing golf.  With Euro 2016 coming to a conclusion soon (i.e. there’s not games on the telly every night!), I’m hoping to crank things up again in the coming days including a few guest ICAs that have been sent in.

Cheers.

JC

 

A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (13)

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ORIGINALLY POSTED ON WEDNESDAY 7 MAY 2008

(8 years ago to the day!!)

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On many an occasion in this rundown, I’ve mentioned that I had major problems narrowing down which particular song should be chosen for a band. I reckon the biggest dilemma came with The Go-Betweens. How can I possibly ignore the merits of the genius, majesty and sheer beauty of Cattle and Cane – the track that is probably their best-known and best-loved song? Not to mention the gorgeous vocal delivery of the much-missed Grant McLennan.

The answer is that the follow-up single just means an awful lot more to me.

It was at the age of 20 that I finally moved out from underneath my parents’ protection and branched out to a place of my own. It was a student residency flat on campus in Glasgow City Centre. It was a two-bedroom job, complete with kitchen, toilet and shower. I had the single room, while my two flatmates shared a larger space. The rent for each of us was £510 – for a full year including the summer months.

I had a reasonable record collection, but one of my other flatmates had a collection that I reckon was probably only second to that of John Peel (for instance, he had every single that had come out on Postcard Records). It was a time when my musical tastes broadened more than ever before, thanks to hearing some old stuff for the first time, but also on account of new and emerging bands throughout the early and mid 80s. This was where I first learned about, among others, The Go-Betweens.

The location of the flat was incredible, a mere stone’s throw from the student union where we seemed to spend most of our free time. We’d spend hours every weekend getting ready to go out, taking turns to play some of our favourite songs, often dissecting the lyrics and melodies in a way that seemed very important and meaningful.

Every Friday and Saturday, the set-lists for going out would change, but there was one single from October 1983 that always seemed to get played – as indeed was the b-side:-

mp3 : The Go-Betweens – Man O’ Sand To Girl O’ Sea
mp3 : The Go-Betweens – This Girl, Black Girl

Robert Forster’s manic delivery of the line ‘I feel so sure about our love I’ve wrote a song about us breaking up’ is one of the finest moments in pop history. As is the chorus that isn’t a chorus – ‘I want you baaaaaack.’ And don’t get me started in the great backing vocals.

There’s also a little footnote to this particular single that also helped it clinch selection ahead of Cattle and Cane.

This was another 7” which was ‘lost’ in Edinburgh all those years ago, although I did still have copies of the songs on a double compilation LP called 1978-1990. However, by the early part of this century, it was all CDs or digital and I just couldn’t get my hands on a copy of the b-side.

But….there came a day when, after much humming and hawing, I plucked up the courage to ask a bloke called Colin who at the time had a great blog called Let’s Kiss And Make Up that had previously featured The Go-Betweens if he could post an mp3 of This Girl, Black Girl. He willingly obliged.

Colin also later replied to other e-mails from me in which I asked for advice in setting up my own blog – and without fail he was always courteous, charming, witty and hugely supportive, especially in the very early days when I was unsure of what I was doing and terrified that I was out of my depth, making a fool of myself and wasting my time.

So if there’s a song from this rundown that I’d like to dedicate to anyone, then its this particular track.

Thanks comrade. I’m proud to call you a mate.  Real proud.

PS

How uncanny is it that, having more than six months ago set out to look back at this old series that the entry for The Go-Betweens would happen to fall just one day after the 10th anniversary of the sad and untimely passing of Grant McLennan……

 

1978 – 1990 ON VINYL (Part 4)

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Completing the look back to 1978 – 1990, a 2 x LP compilation from The Go-Betweens released just after they had initially broken up.  Sides 1 and 2 were more or  a ‘Greatest Near Hits’ comprising flop singles and some of the best-loved album tracks (and can be found in postings earlier this week)

Sides 3 and 4 however, are a bit different consisting of some rarities, radio sessions and previously unreleased tracks and is what made the purchase of the record so essential back in the day.  Side 4 was curated entirely by Grant McLellan and he supplies the liner notes.

Side 4

1. Dusty In Here

This song is about my father who died when I was four.

(Recorded in October 1982 in Eastbourne, England. Originally released on the LP Before Hollywood in May 1983 on Rough Trade)

2. A King In Mirrors

Emmylou Harris meets The Velvet Underground. I sang this is a French toilet during the Spring Hill Fair sessions but I prefer this earlier version. It’s spookier and more languid. I’m very happy with the lyric.

(Recorded in December 1983 in London and broadcast on 5 January 1984 on the David Jensen Show on BBC Radio 1)

3. Second-Hand Furniture

I had a dream about a divorced man who looked into a shop window and saw his old bed. I think it was snowing. The catalogue of objects was an ad lib. For some reason this song is popular in Stockholm.

(Recorded in October 1984 in London and broadcast on 29 October 1984 on the John Peel Show on BBC Radio 1)

4. This Girl, Black Girl

There was an annual event in north Queensland country life called the Oak Park Races. People came together to race their horses and to congratulate each other on a good year or to console each other if it has been a bad one.  I had just returned from a trip which included a recording session in Scotland, a close shave in Egypt and a six-week hangover in New York. I found myself in a tent three hundred miles from the nearest bookshop. My relatives asked me to play the guitar for them but I knew it was impossible to dance the gypsy tap to “I Need Two Heads” so I wrote this song.

(Recorded in August 1983 in Sussex, England.  in Brisbane.  Originally released in November 1983   as the b-side to on the 7″ only release of Man O’ Sand to Girl O’ Sea. It’s also, indirectly, the song that led to me starting up a blog, the original TVV, back in September 2006)

5. Don’t Call Me Gone

I’ve always liked country music. This is a typical mix of pathos and sentimentality in the tradition of George Jones and Tammy Wynette. It comes close to pastiche but The Go-Betweens seldom genre hop so this is what it is.

(Recorded in January 1987 in London.  Originally released in November 1983  as a bonus track on the 12″ release of Right Here)

6. Mexican Postcard

This is a super 8 film about a country I have never been to. For further reference listen to the soundtrack for “Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid”.

(Recorded in August 1988 in London. Originally released in October 1988 as a bonus track on the 12″ release of Was There Anything I Can Do?)

7.  You Won’t Find It Again

This is an acoustic version of a song that never made it onto “16 Lovers Lane”. It was a great summer and you could see the Sydney Opera House from the window. It was also only twenty minutes walk to Bronte Beach.

(Recorded in January 1988 in Sydney. Previously unreleased)

Just click on the song titles to get the mp3s.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the past four days.  I have.

1978 – 1990 ON VINYL (Part 3)

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Continuing the look back to 1978 – 1990, a 2 x LP compilation from The Go-Betweens released just after they had initially broken up.  Sides 1 and 2 were more or  a ‘Greatest Near Hits’ comprising flop singles and some of the best-loved album tracks (and can be found in postings over the past two days)

Sides 3 and 4 however, are a bit different consisting of some rarities, radio sessions and previously unreleased tracks and is what made the purchase of the record so essential back in the day.  Side 3 was curated entirely by Robert Forster and he supplies the liner notes.

Side 3

1. 8 Pictures

Christmas 1978. The family are all around the tree and gifts are being given out. My brother has bought me the fourth Velvet Underground album “Loaded”. I’m walking around the house with the ugliest guitar in the world – a black Ibanez Les Paul that I wrote far too many good songs on, one of them being 8 Pictures.

(Recorded in July 1981 in Melbourne. Originally released on the LP Send Me A Lullaby in February 1982 on Missing Link Records)

2. I Need Two Heads

Grant and I leave Brisbane in late 1979 for London, then Paris, then London , then Glasgow where we record this song for Postcard. I wrote one song on the first six months of 1980. This.

(Recorded in April 1980  in Castle Sound Studios in Pencaitland, Scotland. Originally released as a single in June 1980 on Postcard Records – and for nearly 20 years was the only version of the song I had until I found a mint copy of the 45 going very cheap on e-bay – changed days now that vinyl is back in fashion)

3. When People Are Dead

I wish I’d written this two months earlier so it could have been included on “Tallulah”. The words are by Marion Stout, an Irish poet I met in London. The band sounds absolutely great.

(Recorded in January 1987 in London. Originally released in February 1987  as the b-side on the 7″ and 12″ release of Right Here)

4. The Sound of Rain

We were living in this house by the Brisbane river that had a very thin roof (or the rain was harder that year). This is a very pretty, soft tune about crossing that river and killing a girl in the West End.

(Recorded in November 1978 in Brisbane.  Raindrop guitar by Peter Milton Walsh and drums by Tim Mustafa.  Previously unreleased)

5. People Say

A classic 24 carat. An old school friend of mine is on piano and hammond organ. We were going for that ‘wild mercury sound’. Sometimes I think that this is the best song I’ve ever written.

(Organ and piano by Mal Kelly. Recorded in May 1979 in Brisbane. and originally released as a single the same month on The Able Label)

6. World Weary

Recorded in Sydney 1981 as a b-side to “Your Turn, My Turn”. Our first session with Melbourne engineering genius Tony Cohen. I have no idea what the song is about.

(Recorded in April 1981 in Sydney. Originally released a b-side in July 1981 on Missing Link Records. It’s just over 90 seconds long…..)

7.  Rock and Roll Friend

Self-pity is a beautiful well to repeatedly dip in and find more reasons not to live, more reasons not to cheer. And the well is an illusion until the well runs dry and then you’re ready for another song.

(Recorded in August 1988 in London. Originally released in October 1988  as the b-side to on the 7″ and 12″ release of Was There Anything I Could Do?  Robert would later re-record the song for inclusion on his solo LP Warm Nights, released in 1996.)

Just click on the song titles to get the mp3s.

Enjoy – Part 4 will wrap up the series tomorrow

1978 – 1990 ON VINYL (Part 2)

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As I mentioned yesterday, Domino Records are about to release G Stands For Go-Betweens – Volume One. which is a very thorough look back of the band’s output from 1978 through to 1984.

I’m giving it a bodyswerve as I can’t really justify the price tag of £120 but it has inspired me to feature all of 1978 – 1990, a compilation which looked back at the band just after they had initially broken up. Here in the UK, it came out on a single CD with 22 tracks and a double album with 28 tracks.

Today it is the turn of Side 2 which is again more or less a ‘Greatest Near Hits’ comprising flop singles and some of the best-loved album tracks, this time from 85-88.

Side 2

1. The Wrong Road

We lived in London for almost six years. I shared a dark flat with a painter and then a comedian. The painter was obsessed with grey. The comedian loved Tommy Cooper. This song fits somewhere between these two things – GM

(Recorded in November 1985 in London. Originally released on the LP Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express in March 1986 on Beggars Banquet)

2. The Clarke Sisters

Old friends of mine originally friends of my mothers. They adopted me as some lost son. I spent many afternoons in their splendid company. They had a magnificent house that sadly was pilfered by antique dealers in their last years – RF

(Recorded in January 1987  in London. Originally released on the LP Tallulah in June 1987 on Beggars Banquet)

3. Right Here

Two friends of mine once worked in a funeral parlour. Constant exposure to the chemicals used in the preparation of the bodies turned them into addicts. I thought this would be a good subject to write about in a pop song. My friends heard it, and I’m happy to say, are no longer working for the Ministry of the Dead – GM

(Recorded in December 1986 in London. Originally released on the LP Tallulah)

4. Bye Bye Pride

Cairns is a lazy, small town full of boats and cane fields. It is also unbearably hot. An old army officer once said to me that the heat took away his pride. He then sucked loudly on the straw in his gin and headed out to the first hole.  I was his caddy so I followed him – GM

(Recorded in January 1987  in London. Originally appeared on Tallulah but released as a single later on in August 1987)

5. The House That Jack Kerouac Built

My Irish phase. Unfortunately I’d been in London long enough to be on the edge of a truly appalling crowd of people. Bad bands, theft, sad energy and general devil-may-care attitudes that amount to nothing. I left them early and then in November 1987 we left London for Sydney – RF

(Recorded in January 1987 in London. Originally released on the LP Tallulah)

6. Streets Of Your Town

A pop song. A song written with car stereos in mind. Amanda doesn’t like the backing vocals. She says she sounds too Jane Birkin. I love them. I also love the guitar break by John Wilsteed. The BBC would only play this on sunny days – GM

(Recorded in May 1988 in Sydney. Originally released a single in July 1988 on Beggars Banquet and included on the LP 16 Lovers Lane one month later)

7.  Love Is A Sign

There is a museum on the outskirts of Oslo that holds much of the best work of the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. We were touring there in 1987. A married couple asked me if I would like to visit the museum. I went with them, got inspired and wrote this songs in the backseat of their car as we drove back to Oslo. I played it to them in my hotel room. The man smile. The woman said it sounded like a Blood on the Tracks out-take. They were a great couple – RF

(Recorded in May 1988 in Sydney. Originally released on the LP 16 Lovers Lane in August 1988 on Beggars Banquet)

Just click on the song titles to get the mp3s.

Enjoy – Parts 3 and 4 are on their way

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