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Various Artists

Love Goes On: A Tribute To Grant McLennan
Rare Victory Records
www.myspace.com/rarevictory


The song that David and Sherri of Rare Victory picked to title this collection is appropriate; since Go-Betweens co-founder McLennan died (far too young) last year, there's been an outpouring of love for the man and his music. The Go-Bs' and Grant's solo records may not have set the world on fire, but those lucky enough to fall under his spell tend to be fierce in their appreciation.

Counted among the spellbound are many musicians, from the golden Go-Betweens days of the '80s up to the present day. That spectrum is well represented here; particularly impressive is the Rare Victory guys' ability to elicit performances from long forgotten contemporaries of Grant's, such as The June Brides' Phil Wilson or Paul Handyside of the great Hurrah! (if you can find them, Tell God I'm Here and The Beautiful are excellent guitar pop records that still stand up today).

Tribute records can be problematic; most are mediocre with two or three gems, some are just plain terrible and only a select few are consistently good. Love Goes On succeeds by the contributors' obvious love for the songs; pretty much all of the performers here nail their choices and make them their own, while avoiding the deliberate mauling that mars many tributes. The song choices are really interesting, too; there are a surprising number of tunes from the Go-Betweens' recent reunion albums (only one from the real comeback Oceans Apart, though), and a good handful of B-sides and solo obscurities.

Chief among the latter is former Auteurs/Black Box Recorder front man Luke Haines' treatment of "You Won't Find it Again", an 80's b-side and one of the normally sunny McLennan's truly bitter songs. It's an ideal choice for Haines, who fills this tale of loss and regret with his customary bile. I'd like to hear him take on a few Leonard Cohen tunes based on this performance.

There are many other highlights, some of which almost achieve the feat of besting the originals. Special mentions go to the always-wonderful Bats' take on the Tallulah classic "Right Here," with a jangling guitar motif replacing Amanda Brown's violin and Robert Scott's and Kaye Woodward's perennial vocal harmonies; Ivy's perfect choice of "Streets Of Your Town," with Dominique Durand's voice lending just the right touch of Euro-sophistication that this song always cried out for; and The Clientele's moody, magnificent take on "Orpheus Beach."

If you were ever bewitched by one of Grant's tunes, get this from the Web link above; David and Sherri will even follow up with a personal email asking you what you thought. My reply was that this is a fitting tribute to a real lost genius of music; it brought a tear to my eye and a smile to my face all at once.

-Gareth Bowles


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