Welcome to The Go-Betweens Archive
Dedicated to the memory of the late Grant McLennan, co-founder of the Go-Betweens
Ever since the Go-Betweens began to attract attention in the music press, they could always be relied upon for a great quote, never at a loss for words. These articles provide an insight into the evolution of their music and the way they saw themselves as only a contemporary view can give.
This is an array of The Go-Betweens' appearances in the hallowed pages of New Musical Express, Rolling Stone and numerous other publications. Note: pages called "The Go-Betweens" or "The Go-Betweens/The Laughing Clowns, etc" are live reviews.
Writers have been credited where possible and should be thanked for allowing us their insights on the group throughout their career.
In time I will be expanding this site to encompass a thorough cross-referenced discography with information about the recordings.
News: June 2007
Intermission: The Best of the Solo Recordings 1990-1997
Intermission is an elegantly designed compilation of Robert Forster and Grant McLennan's solo work from 1990-1997. It is a fitting testament to the individual songwriting prowess of McLennan and Forster and illustrates these differences that energized the Go-Betweens' best work. McLennan's sharp pop sensibilities and poignant long form poetry were the perfect foil to the freewheeling intellect and observational humour of Forster.
In October 1989, Forster and McLennan had convened to record demos for a seventh Go-Betweens album. The album, to be named Freakchild, would be the usual 50/50 split of songs from each, but they were spoilt for choice as the sessions threw up enough material for a double album. The songs which made the cut were duly rehearsed with full band arrangements and featured in a series of shows in December.
Plans for recording Freakchild were scrapped when Forster and McLennan had decided The Go-Betweens had run its course and dissolved the group. They opted to adopt a fresh approach to their individual songwriting. Plans for an acoustic collaboration were also shelved when Forster relocated to Germany, so most of the Freakchild songs found their way onto their respective solo albums, Danger In The Past and Watershed.
For this reason it's tempting to imagine that Freakchild (had it been made under the right conditions) would have sounded something like a cross between these two records. This might have been the case had they not pursued quite different approaches to their first albums.
For his first outing McLennan opted for pop sheen. He had been heading that way in the later days of the Go-Betweens with singles like Right Here and Streets of Your Town. Now Watershed showed him embracing polished production and catchy arrangements in a bid to achieve the hits he nearly had with the band. From sunshine pop gems included here, Haven't I Been A Fool and Easy Come Easy Go to Dylanesque parable Black Mule, it set the tone also for the next album Fireboy. The Dark Side of Town, Lighting Fires and Surround Me are fine songs but these recordings have not dated so well. It seems he has gone against his better instincts and buried the songs in the overdubs and drums too high in the mix, as was the fashion of the day.
1994's Horsebreaker Star was a welcome return to his roots and saw him enriching his songs with a stripped back approach, exploring light and shade in No Peace In The Palace, Hot Water, I'll Call You Wild and Horsebreaker Star. Malibu 69, One Plus One and In Your Bright Ray from 1997's In Your Bright Ray were produced by indie producer Wayne Connolly who brought out the energy in the songs without smothering them. Grant even rocks out a little.
Meanwhile Forster had begun 1990 ensconced in Berlin's Hansa Studios - where he'd wanted to record Freakchild - with most of The Bad Seeds. In this setting his Freakchild songs, I've Been Looking For Somebody, The River People and Danger In The Past take on a rich dark atmosphere with the feel Forster had often talked about wanting to achieve - tight but loose. Even Baby Stones - another mock bravado number: "every man for the rest of your life will be less than me" - still comes off sounding vulnerable and affecting.
The tracks here from Calling From a Country Phone - Falling Star, 121, Beyond Their Law and The Circle - have the same exuberance resulting from playing more or less live in the studio. The sound is warmer, the mood defiant and cut loose. 121 is a Creedence-flavoured rocker celebrating - like Beyond Their Law - his recent marriage to Karin ("...your Daddy's beer, down by the river's edge"). Forster's namechecking of Townes Van Zandt on Danger In The Past's Dear Black Dream and his demo of Falling Star (included here from the same sessions) signal his growing love of country music.
So it's a short step from there to Frisco Depot, his well-judged cover version from 1995's I Had A New York Girlfriend. The tracks from Warm Nights - I'll Jump, I Can Do - are more intimate and humorous. Cryin' Love - like Baby Stones - is a brooding reflection on fading stardom and a defiant serenade. "… he cannot be as goodlooking as me…", with fine dynamic production by Edwyn Collins.
It's appropriate Grant named this collection Intermission as The Friends of Rachel Worth flows on so closely as to make the Go-Betweens reunion inevitable. It's a blessing that the sum of the parts is as great as the whole.
Go-Betweens official site
Lo-Max Records (Go-Betweens label in the UK)
Jetset Records (Go-Betweens label in the USA)
Beggars Banquet (Go-Betweens label in the UK)
David Nichols' excellent book The Go-Betweens