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The Go-Betweens first 3 LPs get definitive re-issue
16 July 2002
It was twenty years ago today, more or less, that Australian post-punk in the form of The Go-Betweens first defined themes that help sustain alternative rock even now.

A joint project among Australian outsider-pop legends The Go-Betweens, New York’s Jetset Records, and London’s Circus Records (set up last year expressly for the UK release of The G-B’s comeback LP, The Friends Of Rachael Worth) bears fruit next week with the US release of definitive, re-mastered editions of the band’s first three albums: Send Me A Lullaby (1981), Before Hollywood (1983), and Spring Hill Fair (1984).
    The three LPs surfaced on Circus Records three weeks ago (24 June) domestically in the UK, where fans are scapping them up.
    The new editions—with new and extensive liner notes including interviews and recording details for most songs, complete lyrics, and each with a full-length bonus disc of rare (some exceedingly rare!) material along with a video—are essential to every Go-Betweens fan, even those already owning every Go-Betweens album, and to anyone else wanting to understand outsider pop in the ’80s and to hear first-hand one of the important reasons for its enduring influence.
    The Go-Betweens formed in Brisbane in 1977 following the chance meeting, at a rehearsal for a student production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, between Grant McLennan and Robert Forster—in which McLennan as a young film fanatic was a member of the audience and Forster was onstage attired in a diaper. The two became friends and then musical collaborators, recording post-punk/experimental pop songs in Forster’s bedroom throughout 1978 and 1979. (You can still pick up a collection known as 78 ’Til 79: The Lost Album, which chronicles that period.)
    The individual and collective musical sensibilities of two masterful songwriters—Forster and McLennan—provide the thread tying the band’s first three proper albums together, although the LPs differ starkly in terms of musical textures and feel.
    On the sparse, ragged, every-flavor-but-sweet Send Me A Lullaby, The Go-Betweens provide the missing link between early Pere Ubu (iconoclastic brain bursts) and Pixies (off-kilter melodiousness). On the immediate and raw yet fully realized Before Hollywood, recorded after they moved to London, they span the gap between The Fall (moaning sardonicism in song) and Television (trippy, optimistic subversion of pop themes).
    And on Spring Hill Fair, The Go-Betweens begin to show their romantic side and offer their first effort that qualifies as 'beautiful' in any traditional sense, with extensive use of vocal harmonies and some lush, elegant arrangements fleshed out by the band’s transition from a trio (McLennan and Forster along with drummer Lindy Morrison) to a quartet (with new bassist Robert Vickers, who stayed on for 1986’s Liberty Belle And The Black Diamond Express and 1987’s Tallulah).
    Fans of The Go-Betweens consider them one of the best and most underrated pop bands of all time—personifying exactly what should be on the radio everywhere if there were any justice in the universe. But there isn’t and they’re not. But that’s OK because it’s a wonderful world when you can get these records and play them for yourself and your friends.
    Start with any one of these albums, the one that most matches your taste, and then listen to the others, letting Forster and McLennan pry open your mind to all the wonders of their uncompromising take on pop. Rockbites gives this triple-release five bites out of five.

Rockbites ratings  5: life changing, 4: stunning, 3: captivating, 2: amusing, 1: annoying.

Send Me A Lullaby, Before Hollywood, and Spring Hill Fair come out Tuesday, 23 July for the US on Jetset Records. Go-Betweens fan site | The Go-Betweens on Jetset | | Send Me A Lullaby - CD | | Before Hollywood - CD | | Spring Hill Fair - CD | | top of page |


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