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October 2, 2012 3:56 AM   Subscribe


 
There's a great One Week One Band about them, too.
posted by pxe2000 at 4:05 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


As far as The Smiths go, once you've heard Girlfriend in a Coma to the tune of Tiptoe Through the Tulips, things can never be the same again.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:13 AM on October 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


"Why do people who read Dostoyevsky, look like Dostoyevsky?"
Great, great band. Was lucky to see them a few times before McLennan's death.
posted by wingless_angel at 4:19 AM on October 2, 2012


That is one terrible album cover on that new best-of, yet it somehow sums up everything that comes to mind when I think of the Go-Betweens music.
posted by item at 4:34 AM on October 2, 2012


Fantastic to see a Go-Betweens post on MetaFilter.

I remember listening to the album Tallulah a lot when I moved away from my parents for the first time. Walking through the town before sunrise full of wonder and fear, my whole life ahead of me..
Turned the fan off
and went for a walk
by the lights down on Shield Street.
The birds in the trees
open their wings
he goes home again.
posted by DZ-015 at 5:00 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


The music might be great, but oh my god, the singer's voice makes me want to claw my eyes out. Sorry -- gonna stay on Team Smiths.
posted by gsh at 5:06 AM on October 2, 2012


I agree with this sentiment entirely. The GBs are pretty much the only band from the 80s I listen to with any regularity, and I say that as a former Smiths/James/Wire fanatic.

I once had a drunken conversation with Simon Reynolds where I tried to persuade him they were the greatest band in the world (it was 1985 I think) because they wrote about adult themes not teenage angst. He eventually conceded the point, out of exhaustion I think. I could be pretty exhausting when it came to the Go-Betweens (and still can).
posted by unSane at 5:11 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are two singers, gsh... Robert's the one who generally makes people want to claw their eyes out but Grant's voice was so sweet you needed a regular spiky palate cleanser.
posted by unSane at 5:12 AM on October 2, 2012


think The Smiths if Morrissey had ever got out in the sunshine once in a while

A dreaded splendid sunny day
So I meet you at Kangaroo Point!
posted by pracowity at 5:19 AM on October 2, 2012 [3 favorites]




Robert Redford's hair is the product of Utah's mountain water, not Colorado's.
posted by mecran01 at 5:25 AM on October 2, 2012


think The Smiths if Morrissey had ever got out in the sunshine once in a while

He would soak up sunlight, but he hasn't got a stitch to wear.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:28 AM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Greatest band in the world. then they came back and were improbably great once again.

A while back someone put up on Youtube an entire show from 1983 in Bradford, England (see all the parts) that might be a little intense for some folks but is just riveting for the likes of me. The only thing wrong with the reunion was no Lindy Morrison.

DZ-105, I listened to that song a hundred times after a bad breakup once, which I can't recommend, but I can whistle the oboe solo (the best oboe solo in the history of rock) anytime I want now. It's a lovely, heartbreaking song. I will prefer "Cattle and Cane", though, as their best effort. Such an interesting rhythm.

The Smiths? Good band, hugely influential. Not in the same league as the Go-Bes, sorry. No one is. Well, maybe their Postcard labelmates Orange Juice, for a brief flash.
posted by Fnarf at 5:40 AM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fnarf,
Had to start playing a bootleg of a show from Glasgow Tech in April 1980 that has Go Betweens, Orange Juice and Josef K when this post came up. "Funky Glasgow Now" Post card Extravaganza.
posted by stuartmm at 5:52 AM on October 2, 2012


Huh. I thought I was relatively up on 80's Aussie pop, but hadn't heard of these guys. I like the youtube-linked song in the article so far. Reminds me a bit of Television, too.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:57 AM on October 2, 2012


Both bands were incredible. Morrisey could and did play the pop star, the Gobetweens did not. As both bands aren’t around any more I don't see the need for some artificial pissing contest to flog some rekkids, just listen to both and enjoy!

Why not compare Orange Juice vs The Clouds instead while we are here, they also might need a bit of back catalogue bumping.
posted by zog at 5:59 AM on October 2, 2012


So, The Smiths without soul are the greatest band in the world? And now I have to get through an entire day?
posted by 3.2.3 at 6:08 AM on October 2, 2012


The Smiths broke up. Now they're the Smithereens. /ba-dum
posted by BentFranklin at 6:17 AM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Never understood the appeal of the Smiths in general and Morrissey in particular. Decent enough pop music, nothing that spectacular, all done earlier and better by others. It just seemed as if there was a generation of hardcore music nerds desperate for heroes with nobody better to latch on to.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:20 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Never heard of these guys, but upon taking a listen, I think they're great. Thanks!

But here's the reason I still like The Smiths better: Johnny Marr. I've just never heard anybody play rock guitar the way he did.
posted by Rykey at 6:26 AM on October 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


One of the reasons I like the Go-Betweens is because they were the opposite of rock.
posted by unSane at 6:29 AM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Robert's the one who generally makes people want to claw their eyes out

Oh, I LOVE Robert's voice, but then I generally like voices with 'character' - one of my all-time favourite albums is The Wonderful And Frightening World of The Fall, which as far as The Fall back-catalogue goes is practically a Westlife album, but most people can't get past MES's voice. I'm a big fan of bands with two singers - XTC, REM to an extent (I knew that my SO was the one for me when I found out we both sing Mike Mills' vocal parts), The Beautiful South, I'd remember others but I really need a cup of tea right now.

I moved to London in 2005, I think just after their reunion, and one of the things I was looking forward to about it was the possibility of seeing them live. Sadly it didn't happen. I bought Bellavista Terrace, their last best-of, without having heard a note of their music save Milky's Ibiza radio hit Just The Way You Are, which sampled Streets Of Your Town. It was 2002, I was twenty, I was going through the kind of personal life angst that twenty year old students appear to be fond of, and I listened to Part Company so often, never sharing it with my then-boyfriend because He Wouldn't Get It. Around the same time I dug tape copies of Murmur and Prefab Sprout's Steve McQueen (you'd know it as Two Wheels Good in the US) and these plus Ken Bruce on Radio 2 take me back to my early 20s more forcefully than the smell of Manchester rain or the ready-mix falafel we ate by the box back then.

Why not compare Orange Juice vs The Clouds instead while we are here, they also might need a bit of back catalogue bumping.

Tigercats sound really like Rip It Up-era Orange Juice with Frank Black guesting on vocals.


Never understood the appeal of the Smiths in general and Morrissey in particular. Decent enough pop music, nothing that spectacular, all done earlier and better by others. It just seemed as if there was a generation of hardcore music nerds desperate for heroes with nobody better to latch on to.

I think you have to hear them at the right age. (See also: The Breakfast Club, Catcher In The Rye) Before 15, they sound mopey and dull. After 15, they sound mopey and adolescent. At 15, preferably with an unrequited crush, they speak to you and only you.
posted by mippy at 6:48 AM on October 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Never understood the appeal of the Smiths in general and Morrissey in particular. Decent enough pop music, nothing that spectacular, all done earlier and better by others. It just seemed as if there was a generation of hardcore music nerds desperate for heroes with nobody better to latch on to.

Why assume that loving one band means that all others are excluded? At the time I was collecting every last piece of Smiths anything I could find, other music I was equally into included Laurie Anderson, The Stooges, Suicide, Magazine, Violent Femmes, the Residents, Kraftwerk, Dead Kennedys, anything 2-Tone, the Jam, Radio Birdman, Lou Reed, and a bunch of Australian & kiwi bands you've never heard of.

I honestly can't say if there was nobody better to latch on to. They were all great. Apologies to any that I missed.

*edit feature!*

OH! Echo & the Bunnymen! Wall of Voodoo, too, and the Cure. Triffids & Go-Betweens were on high rotation on the radio, so basically just background music.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:49 AM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


If we're going to make completely irrelevant comparisons, I always preferred the Triffids to the the Go-Betweens. And still do, after listening to all the songs in the OP's link, and a smattering of Triffids songs on YouTube. The vocals on all the Go-Betweens songs in the link are unbearable, and I don't have any emotional response to the vocals or the music.

In the 80s, the Go-Betweens always struck me as critics' music - the kind you were told you'd like if you were just more sophisticated or well-read, but always left you cold. And I don't have any idea how The Smiths are even in the discussion.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:49 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Smiths have always left me cold, but the Go-Bes are a touchstone, and seem to be more and more important to me every year. I've always been on Team Grant, though, and in some ways prefer his solo albums (especially Horsebreaker Star) to his Go-Betweens work. The warmth of his voice and his melodies, and the emotion-yet-obliqueness of his lyrics is pretty close to the bullseye for me. His death still feels totally devastating, like a brother died.

Johnny Marr is a great guitarist--shame he was wasted on the Smiths. One of my fantasy bands is a Johnny Marr-Joe Pernice team-up. Please make it happen.
posted by rodii at 6:53 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


The titles of their first five albums all have words with double-Ls: Send Me a Lullaby, Before Hollywood, Spring Hill Fair, Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express, and Tallulah.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:01 AM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Tigercats sound really like Rip It Up-era Orange Juice with Frank Black guesting on vocals.

That and a bit of Architecture In Helsinki, only without the daggy-80s-FM-radio sheen, and a bit of an afrobeat influence.

Tigercats are probably my favourite London band of this moment. They're really fun live too. I think they deserve to be better known than they are.
posted by acb at 7:04 AM on October 2, 2012


See, I can't get into the Triffids, and I wanted to after reading a great essay about being a Triffids fan years ago - can't remember who it was by now. It was in this book anyway.

I got into The Smiths when I was 15, so that was 1997 - around the time when bands who had presumably grew up with The Smiths being an actual band, rather than part of the indie canon, were making music, so it fitted in. My 17yr old nephew, who;s a fan of Nirvana (Kurt Cobain has never been alive in his lifetime) and early Smashing Pumpkins - our home town was a dance music or rock music place, never indie - likes Johnny Marr but can't get into Morrissey.
posted by mippy at 7:08 AM on October 2, 2012


Tigercats are so much better live than on record, I think.
posted by mippy at 7:08 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tigercats are so much better live than on record, I think.

They are; they consistently tear the roof off the place live. Though they did a good job transferring what can be transferred of that to the record.

Btw, for what it's worth, I did a remix of one of their songs a while ago, in a sort of DFA-esque vein.
posted by acb at 7:15 AM on October 2, 2012


Never understood the appeal of the Smiths in general and Morrissey in particular. Decent enough pop music, nothing that spectacular, all done earlier and better by others.

I was buying the Smiths albums as they were released in the US. I'm pretty sure I bought The Queen is Dead, but nothing after that. I enjoyed them quite a bit, but they were never my favorite band of the 80s, and as the 80s progressed into the 90s, my tastes skewed a lot more rock and roll.

However, MartinWisse, I'm curious who you would say was doing what the Smiths did earlier. I experienced them as pretty original at the time. Roxy Music, maybe?
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:40 AM on October 2, 2012


The Go-Betweens always remind me of mippy.

She introduced them to me while we were still 350 miles apart, firm friends who hadn't yet properly met. You Tell Me in particular reminds me of her, in the way music sometimes does, specifically of chatting on the phone during a lunch break at my rubbish temporary job, planning my move south and wondering if we would get on so well when we were face-to-face.

We do.
posted by liquidindian at 7:43 AM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


3.2.3: “So, The Smiths without soul are the greatest band in the world?”

No, the Smiths without soul are just... the Smiths.
posted by koeselitz at 7:45 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


As I prepare to enter my 40s, I am in awe of them.

"That Striped Sunlight Sound", and especially the go at "Bye Bye Pride", left me, at 39, swinging between choked up and exhilarated in a way that the Smiths haven't made me since I was in my early 20s.

I don't know if it's the baseline humility, the lack of arch seriousness (or at least the inability to sustain it for very long), or still being able to see the young, full-of-joy-and-energy Grant through the wrinkles and cracking voice - but the Go-Betweens have aged with me far better.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:51 AM on October 2, 2012


Btw, any love for the Lucksmiths in this thread?
posted by acb at 7:54 AM on October 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


The titles of their first five albums all have words with double-Ls

Also, "Send Me a Lullaby" can be rearranged to get "Unseemly Ballad".
posted by Wolfdog at 7:58 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


And I was being tasteful in my choice, there.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:59 AM on October 2, 2012


If you're interested in the Go-Be's, "That Striped Sunlight Sound" is a great introduction. I never really understood "Karen" until I saw it. It's definitely the Go-Be's through the lens of the later, mellower band. And the bonus material where Robert and Grant work through their history is a great look at the songs without their produced surface, which, especially on the earliest records, some people can find off-putting. But basically I love it because you can see how lovable they are/were. And the versions of "Clouds" and "People Say" are completely fucking ace. The moment when they break into a bit of "Love Minus Zero (No Limit)" during "Clouds" is so beautiful.

I understand people having that claw-your-eyes-out to Roberts earlier stuff, but can you really listen to "Bye Bye Pride" or "Cattle and Cane" or "Dusty in Here" or "Finding You" and not feel the warmth of Grant's voice?
posted by rodii at 8:02 AM on October 2, 2012


Btw, any love for the Lucksmiths in this thread?

If we're doing Good Australian Bands, sure. Can we chuck in the part-Aussie Allo Darlin, then?
posted by liquidindian at 8:03 AM on October 2, 2012


BTW, there's a great documentary (in six parts) on Youtube called "Brisbane Bands" that covers the early days of the scene in Briz. Well worth watching if you're into the Go-Betweens or Brisbane's other great band, the Saints.
posted by rodii at 8:15 AM on October 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


If we're doing Good Australian Bands, sure. Can we chuck in the part-Aussie Allo Darlin, then?

I'm probably the only person in the world who knows of them but doesn't like them. They're a bit too twee for my tastes, and invariably bring to mind this screed by Tom Ellard of Severed Heads.

And this is coming from someone who probably wouldn't have moved to the UK had he not stumbled across a Field Mice CD in a Melbourne record shop in 2000.
posted by acb at 8:28 AM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Btw, any love for the Lucksmiths in this thread?

Yes. All of it. Here is the only video I can find on youtube of my very favorite Lucksmiths song, which inexplicably is a cover played on a toy piano.

(GRATUITOUS USE OF EDIT WINDOW!!!! Girlfriend in a Coma to the tune of Tiptoe Through the Tulips almost made me spit coffee everywhere.)
posted by clavicle at 8:30 AM on October 2, 2012


I got to see them in New York several times in the years before Grant McLennan died and they were amazing every time.

I discovered them right before I turned 30, and I don't even recall how, and I can't believe I missed them the first time around, seeing how much I love the atmospheric, melodic, quirky XTC-type bands.

RIP, Grant.
posted by droplet at 8:32 AM on October 2, 2012


If you're into Johnny Marr and you haven't listened to the two The The albums he was on, you should fix that! Mind Bomb and Dusk. Marr's said before that The The was his favorite band to play in.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:34 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seeing as we're talking about Allo Darlin', one of their best songs is Tallulah, which is basically about driving around and listening to the Go-Betweens album of the same name [curse you both for mentioning them before I had a chance to post that].

I really should listen to the Lucksmiths, people I trust rate them. Also, you lot should listen to the Hummingbirds and the Falling Joys.

Back on Go-Betweens related stuff, Don't Wanna Be Grant MacLennan is quite a fun tune:

("That i didn't know someone could be so lonesome
Didn't know a person could give off so much emotion
Want to be like Robert Forster and rock and roll from heaven
But the songs i write in the middle of the night make me sound like Grant McLennan").

[Which incidentally Allo Darlin' played before their set a few months ago, right after playing a Go-Betweens song. EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED]
posted by Infinite Jest at 8:34 AM on October 2, 2012


one of their best songs is Tallulah

OMG this is so good. It's like Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura plus ukelele. Perfect. I will now cheerfully give my workday over to this thread.
posted by clavicle at 8:38 AM on October 2, 2012


Not to speak ill of the dead, but for all the transcendency of his songwriting in the Go-Betweens, Grant McLennan recorded some complete tosh as a solo artist, didn't he? And then as soon as he got back together with Robert again, everything was OK.
posted by unSane at 8:55 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh yay!

The Smiths hit me in my heart BUT the Go-Betweens hit me everywhere, so very good, especially the last couple albums.
posted by Cosine at 9:06 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Infinite Jest - that lyric reminds me of the Half Man Half Biscuit line 'I could have been like Lou Barlow, but I'm more like Ken Barlow'.

STORY OF MY LIFE
posted by mippy at 9:24 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Grant McLennan recorded some complete tosh as a solo artist, didn't he?

Not in my opinion. He made four albums under his own name, all of which are at least good and one of which is better than good (though opinions differ on which one). He did two, I think, with Steve Kilbey under the name Jack Frost, which I don't know very well, so maybe they're "tosh."
posted by rodii at 9:30 AM on October 2, 2012


I really should listen to the Lucksmiths, people I trust rate them. Also, you lot should listen to the Hummingbirds and the Falling Joys.

+1 for the Hummingbirds; loveBUZZ is an indiepop classic.

I managed to catch their reunion show at Big Day Out in Sydney last year, which was one of the highlights of that year. I probably wouldn't have visited Australia at that time had they not reunited to play the show.
posted by acb at 9:34 AM on October 2, 2012


I love the Go-Betweens but my favorite Australian band from that era is The Apartments.
posted by perhapses at 9:43 AM on October 2, 2012


[Seriously folks, we know it's new and you're excited, but keep editing to typos and not jokes, please thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:53 AM on October 2, 2012


Your favorite band does not suck. But skip the compilations and go right to the albums. 16 Lovers Lane is hard to beat for romantic and erotic longing. For example, this lyric of theirs gives me a chill ever time, and I wish I had written it.

There's a cat in the alleyway,
Dreaming of birds that are blue,
Sometimes girl when I'm lonely,
This is how I feel about you

posted by borges at 10:31 AM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think the Go Betweens are like cilantro: some people are genetically disposed to loving it, and to others it tastes like soap. I love the Smiths, XTC, television, early Verlaines, Orange Juice, Chills. But every time I try again to like the GBs it never takes. Love cilantro though.
posted by jetsetsc at 10:35 AM on October 2, 2012


Btw, any love for the Lucksmiths in this thread?

Mrs. Fnarf and flew from Seattle to Australia for five days just to see their last shows, does that count? (Note: flying to Australia for only five days is criminally insane, as it throws your internal clock into the garbage for about three months afterwards.) All told we saw them I think nineteen times, which may not be spectacular for a Melbourne native but isn't too shabby for someone on the other side of the world. I've been told by them that there's a fan in England who's even more dedicated -- just the one -- but sadly I've never met him. Maybe it's Infinite Jest! I agree with him, though -- I'll take all of it. There's not a clinker in the bunch, though I'll probably plump for "Stayaway Stars" as my fave.
posted by Fnarf at 11:25 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


but can you wallow in the Go-Betweens? Doesn't seem like it.
posted by joseppi7 at 12:02 PM on October 2, 2012


Not me, Fnarf, I think you mean clavicle :)
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:12 PM on October 2, 2012


can you wallow in the Go-Betweens?

See the aforementioned tale of one hundred repeat plays of "Bye Bye Pride". If you can't wallow in that, you're doing it wrong.
posted by Fnarf at 12:12 PM on October 2, 2012


Not me, Fnarf, I think you mean clavicle :)

I plead diminished mental capacity as evidenced by my difficulty distinguishing one Mefite from another.
posted by Fnarf at 12:14 PM on October 2, 2012


I think they do melancholy better than wallowing. But "The Wrong Road" and "Bye Bye Pride" could work for wallowing. It always seemed to me that characters in GB songs always kept their dignity in spite of circumstances. One of the things I like about them.

Re: Smiths. There are some similarities. "Was There Anything I Could Do?" I have always seen as a GB attempt to write Smith's song from the chord changes to the wry lyrics. And "Streets of Your Town" is a song the Smiths might have written (chords, bass, lyrical themes are very similar.)
posted by borges at 12:22 PM on October 2, 2012


As a DJ in Maine, I played "Cut It Out" endlessly, but my interest didn't expand much further than that. I am pretty sure in my waning weeks, I played "Love Goes On" a time or two and I ended up with a promo copy of 16 Lovers Lane at exactly the wrong time in my life. I was moving out of state and, besides, it was on vinyl and I was moving to CD. So, basically, I never listened to it.

Then, just this year, on my stupid music blog where I write about every song in my iTunes library I reached the letter "G" and thought "Hey, I've heard good things about the Go-Betweens! Let's expand my knowledge of them." I downloaded a couple dozen of their songs and was blown away.

I think most of the songs I really love are probably the ones true, long term fans of the band might deem cliche, but "Streets of Your Town," "Draining The Pool For You," and "Bye Bye Pride" are as good songs as were ever recorded in English.

Perhaps I wouldn't have enjoyed their music as much if I'd stumbled into it 20 year ago, but now at 44, every word (especially every word out of McLennan's mouth) kicks my soul around, in a good way.

I confess, I don't understand the comparison to The Smiths at all. Yes, they were recording at the same time, but I don't think there's much else that they have in common. It seems like it derails a perfectly good discussion of another outstanding band's music.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:56 PM on October 2, 2012


I've said it before and I will no doubt say it again but Cattle and Cane is one of the finest pop songs ever written.

It is also quite clearly the best song in 13/8 ever written, full stop. But that is a somewhat lower bar...
posted by unSane at 12:58 PM on October 2, 2012


Btw, any love for the Lucksmiths in this thread?

"Who are you, and how did you get in here?"

"I'm a locksmith. And I'm a locksmith."
posted by kirkaracha at 1:24 PM on October 2, 2012


I discovered them in my university days through Comet Gain's Ballad of a Mixtape, which is a grand old song in its own right. That song led me to "Spring Rain" on Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express. I've been a huge fan of them ever since, and relied on them heavily in mixtapes and playlists. They've become a part of my life's soundtrack.
posted by gincrazed at 1:57 PM on October 2, 2012


I will prefer "Cattle and Cane", though, as their best effort. Such an interesting rhythm.

Heh. How many decades have I been listening to that song? I honestly only noticed about a week ago that it's in 11/8 time or something bizarre.

It is also quite clearly the best song in 13/8 ever written, full stop. But that is a somewhat lower bar...

Sorry, 13/8. I was close.
posted by Jimbob at 2:27 PM on October 2, 2012


people who can't sing are not interesting don't last long.
posted by Substrata at 4:13 PM on October 2, 2012


We all know that the Go-Betweens have a bridge named after them in their hometown of Brisbane? Okay then.
posted by chronic sublime at 8:28 PM on October 2, 2012


people who can't sing are not interesting don't last long.

I dunno, Dappy seems to have done pretty well for himself.
posted by mippy at 4:27 AM on October 3, 2012


Huh, I just counted it out and Cattle & Cane IS 11/8 mostly, although it does something funky(er) in the 'waste, memory wastes' section.

Cattle & Cane was directly responsible for me recording this in 15/8 over on MeFi Music.
posted by unSane at 4:52 AM on October 3, 2012


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