Go-Betweens Before Hollywood

A handful of critics have spent the better part of 15 years lamenting the fact that the Go-Betweens failed to become the Beatles of their generation. When the original incarnation of the group broke up in 1989 - founding members Robert Forster and Grant McLennan reunited under the name in 1990 - they left behind a discography to rival any of the '80s; arguably better even than the Smiths, to whom they were most often compared. Despite commercial inefficacy, the Go-Betweens' music continues to attract reinvestigation and new converts, and these expanded two-disc reissues of their first three albums represent their most lavish treatment yet. Send Me a Lullaby (1981) is the band's least rated work, a self-conscious aberration in which they abandon the unabashed melodicism and humour of their early singles to try to compete among the post-punk times. "I deconstructed," says Forster from his home in Brisbane. "We wanted to connect with contemporary groups, and then we were probably overwhelmed by it." Marked by a raw, claustrophobic atmosphere, the seething "8 Pictures" and angular "Your Turn, My Turn" suggested promise - promise that would be more than fulfilled when the group moved to London the following year and made Before Hollywood (1983), a consensus masterpiece. Here the group found its voice, Forster turning in smart love songs such as "By Chance," while McLennan seemingly flourished overnight; his "Cattle and Cane," was recently voted one of the ten best Australian pop songs of all-time. Spring Hill Fair (1984), their only major-label record, boasted increased sophistication despite, says Forster, "a contemporary London sound... [Producer John Brand] thought that we had to make a competitive record, in terms of commercial radio in England, which at that time was like Howard Jones and Thompson Twins." It speaks volumes that, like all Go-Betweens records, it nevertheless still sounds timeless. (Jetset)