A quick primer for beginners: founders Robert Forster and
Grant McLennan started the Go-Betweens as callow students
in Brisbane, Australia in 1978, made six albums between then and 1988
that are hailed by many (especially music critics, but that's largely
because the band never got the recognition they deserved) as some
of the finest music of the 1980s, then called it a day due to a combination
of intra-band tension and disillusionment with the music biz. If you've
never heard these, the recent compilation Bellavista Terrace
is a great introduction to the Go-Betweens' first golden period.
McLennan and Forster spent most of the 90s making a succession of
fine solo records (Grant's Watershed and In Your Bright
Ray and Robert's Danger in the Past are highly recommended)
and playing the occasional show together, before deciding that they
owed it to us to reform their stellar songwriting partnership and
putting together the Go-Betweens Mark 2 with bassist Adele Pickvance
and drummer Glenn Thompson (formerly of Brisbane cult favourites
Custard). The first two reunion albums, 2000's The Friends
of Rachel Worth and 2003's Bright Yellow Bright Orange,
had some transcendent moments but never reached the heights of the
original band, feeling more like a collection of solo recordings.
However, 2005's Oceans Apart brought back the Go-B's firing
on all cylinders, with the band finally sounding like an integrated
unit and the two founders contributing a batch of songs that almost
matched their 80's glories.
That Striped Sunlight Sound is almost a surfeit of riches,
being made up of audio and DVD versions of a Brisbane concert from
the 2005 Oceans Apart tour, plus a "storytellers"
session where Grant and Robert sit down with acoustic guitars to discuss
the history of the band and play some highlights from 1978 right up
to the present, and finally some fun clips where audience members
from the Brisbane show describe what they love about the Go-B's.
The concert is a great document of the Go-Betweens' ability to win
over an audience with engaging stage presence and one swoon-inducing
song after another - especially impressive since the set is heavy
on Oceans Apart material. After starting with a surprise for
fans - Grant takes the stage alone and strums through the engaging,
storytelling "Black Mule" from his first solo album Watershed,
to be joined by Robert for a moving version of "Clouds"
- the rest of the group takes the stage. Suave Thompson's clattering
drums and energetic Pickvance's bubbling bass and fine harmonies make
the ideal backdrop to Forster and McLennan's alternating vocals and
guitar; Grant tends to let the music do the talking, but the DVD is
the only way to see what an amazing stage presence Mr. Robert Forster
really is. Clad in his usual dapper suit with nary a hair out of place,
he commands the audience with a carefully arched eyebrow here and
a pointed finger there until the entire audience (this DVD viewer
included) is hanging on his every word.
The real gem of this package, though, is the "Acoustic Stories"
segment of the DVD. Grant and Robert (accompanied by a black and white
dog and a camera crew) )sit down in a sunny Brisbane drawing room
to swap memories and songs over the course of an afternoon. The two
mens' obvious admiration and affection for each other adds to the
heartfelt performances of eleven of their favourite songs, from 1978's
"Lee Remick" all the way up to last year's "Finding
You", with all the intervening years being well represented,
too. Two tracks in particular stand out: an absolutely staggering
version of "Bye Bye Pride", with the complex arrangements
and oboe from the Tallulah album's studio version being replaced
by simple but compelling acoustic interplay and Grant's impassioned,
cracked vocals, and an equally moving "Dive for Your Memory"
that manages to transcend the original recording from 16 Lover's
Lane. Despite having heard the originals (and all manner of live
versions) hundreds of times since they were first recorded, I just
can't stop playing these !
That Striped Sunlight Sound is essential for anyone with even
a passing fondness for the Go-Betweens; it will remind you why they're
such an important group and how lucky we are to have them back, and
also whet your appetite for the future delights they have in store
Track List: (Audio CD)
1. Black Mule
3. Boundary Rider
4. Born to a Family
5. Streets of Your Town
6. Here Comes a City
7. Draining the Pool for You
8. Finding You
9. Spring Rain
10. Was There Anything I Could Do ?
11. Surfing Magazines
12. The Devil's Eye
13. Too Much of One Thing
14. People Say
15. The Clock
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