Friday, February 13, 2015
Antipodean Week...Day Five
Antipodean Week draws to a close today and there was always only going to be one band to finish of this mini series. Not just the best Australian band of all time, they are quite simply one of the best bands of all time. Ladies and gentlemen I give you The Go Betweens.
My introduction to the Go Betweens was quite by chance. Many years ago whilst flicking through some sale stock in a Virgin closing down sale I came across a 12" gatefold sleeve that had a lovely picture of Lee Remick on the front. On opening up the gatefold and reading the blurb inside I thought that sounded like something I might enjoy, with the added bonus that it was only 50p. So even if it turned out to be crap, at least it had a good cover. After the first listen it was obvious it was not crap and after about 5 listens I had found my new favourite song (for that week, anyway). This 50p bargain started off a life long love of the songs of Brisbane's finest. Between 1983 and 2005 they produced nine albums of some of the finest pop music I own. Why tracks like Streets of your Town and Spring Rain were not massive hits all over the world is still a complete mystery to me. Melodic, lyrical literate pop music was their stock in trade and they done it better than anyone. You could argue all day about which one of their albums was their career high point but, at the moment, for me it is 16 Lovers Lane. The record is mostly acoustic with some beautiful string arrangements and melodies to die for. It is their most polished and accessible album, but is all the better for it. On the surface, it’s bright and shiny and deceptively sweet but lurking underneath are themes of pain, destruction, obsession, and abuse. I've always been a fan of bands that have that ability to combine some pretty dark lyrics with sweet, lovely tunes.
I was fortunate enough to see them play at The Renfrew Ferry in Glasgow back in 2005, a year before the sad passing of Grant McLennan. Although not the original line up it was fantastic to see McLennan and Robert Forster together on the stage in front of a few hundred adoring fans. Highlights of that May evening were Streets Of Your Town, People Say Spring Rain, Bye Bye Pride and a stunning version of Cattle and Cane. I also have a vague recollection of Dive For Your Memory being dedicated to their old friend Edwyn Collins, who had recently taken ill.
Each of the nine studio albums are worth having, from 1983's angular Send Me A Lullaby right up to the stripped-down, lush atmospheres of 2005's Ocaens Apart, and there are not many bands out there who have produced albums of such a consistently high standard.