Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Albums for Life: 9: The Go-Betweens: 16 Lovers Lane

Doesn't matter how far you've come
You've always got further to go

Released in 1988, this was the band's 6th album and the last one that they'd record with the original line up. They'd given up on the possibilities that London offered and had returned home to Australia.
The band broke up the next year and were eventually reformed by Forster and McLennan in 2000.
I know a lot of folk love their earlier albums because of the rough edges; every cult band needs flaws; but this was a perfect gem; their most accessible album by a mile; Grant's at the height of his powers and even Robert's often acerbic contributions are sugar coated; his affected vowels are actually quite lovable here.
'I'm ten feet under waaater...'
It's McLennan's pop sensibilities that dominate, Forster seems to have been pushed a little to the edges.

Apparently much of the inspiration was a tense affair between Grant and band member Amanda Brown. It's a sunny delight on the surface but there are shadows beneath; you still get the bitter/sweet Lennon/McCartney thing from the two leads but the love and regret is so lushly presented as to make everything swoonsome. Sure, there are the usual barbs (butchers knives and battered wives) but the hooks ensure that this one digs deep and refuses to let go.
Bohemian, eccentric, polished, funny, cryptic, irresistible.
Here's the perfect pop of Streets of Your Town:

There was tension during recording; bad blood even; you'd never guess from the euphoric video of 'Was There Anything I Could Do?'

Quiet Heart is a smoldering beauty:

As is 'Love Goes On':

Finally, a little bit of love medicine from Dr Robert:


  1. I may be one os those who went with "the rough edges" but this is a cracker too. They never had all that many rough edges anyway. Always made perfect pop.

  2. you are continuing the habit of picking lps about 2 places before me!
    The only thing I add in my post is that RF and Lm had broken up as well thus RFs sadder than usual songs. The other thing that struck me re listening to it is how chock full of water imagery the whole thing is

  3. Sorry David; Seamus has just done the same to me...
    This set of songs, although not what you'd call 'conventional' seemed to have the same inspiration; the shape of a heart... The water thing is an interesting call; I'm sure that a shrink would suggest sexual frustration, the need to break out/away from turbulent times...