Saturday, November 10, 2007

Cut my swaith and spread my fear

Six of the Best – The Go-Betweens

Thanks to a cassette tape (remember them?) found under the bed, I’ve been playing lots of Go-Betweens this week. The tape features the wonderful Spring Hill Fair album on one side and the sublime but slightly more orchestral (there’s strings and woodwind and stuff on it) 16 Lovers Lane. I made the tape myself from the vinyl copies I own; when I started my degree course in merry Sheffield I didn’t want to lug all my albums up north so created tons of tapes with my favourites on. A strong case could be made for the Go-Betweens being the best blinking band ever. Certainly, using the formula that multiplies a combo’s critical acclaim by its inability to trouble the mainstream, the Australian band would score massively. My favourite Go-Betweens period would probably be the sort-of mid-1980s and the uplifting hat trick of long players, Spring Hill Fair (1984), Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express (1986) and Tallulah (1987). 16 Lovers Lane came out in 1989 and, although I really like its array of marvellous songs, there is a sense that it’s a touch too polished and over-produced. The band produced two earlier albums and, after a break of several years, three more corkers. If an inquisitive punter wanted to buy a Go-Betweens album as an introduction, not one of their recordings would disappoint. However, at the moment I can’t really believe how incredible Spring Hill Fair is. As sadly documented on these pages, the great songwriting partnership of Grant McLennan and Robert Forster came to an end last year when McLennan passed away suddenly and tragically. Luckily S and I managed to catch the pair at the Birmingham Academy not long before the awful event. It was a superb evening.

Look, I’m copying A’s idea here a bit. I’ve made a little Go-Betweens compilation and you can download it by clicking here and peeking at the bottom of the page. There are only six tracks. I don’t want to put people off. The tracks are zipped so, if you haven’t already, you’ll probably need to download WinRar. You can do that here. It’s easy.

The songs are:

Part Company (Spring Hill Fair)

Apology Accepted (Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express)

Bye Bye Pride (Talullah)

Streets Of Your Town (16 Lovers Lane)

Darlinghurst Nights (Oceans Apart)

The Statue (Oceans Apart)

Part Company and Apology Accepted are, as the titles suggest, rather lovelorn numbers, full of angst and introspection. They are both evocative and lovely songs. Bye Bye Pride is possibly my favourite Go-Betweens track with some haunting cor anglais underpinning a beautiful melody and complementing some gorgeous poetic imagery. Streets Of Your Town is a slice of social realism, on first listen a lightweight pop gem but, on further spins, darker ideas lurk. Darlinghurst Nights is a nostalgic look back at youth and is full of tangible charm; I know that dear S adores this ditty. The Statue is a really sweet and tuneful Grant McLennan song from the band’s last album. Enjoy.

I'll take the tracks down if anyone is unhappy with this scheme.

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