Saturday, 11 May 2013

Desert Island Discs 7 16 Lovers Lane by the Gobetweens

7 16 Lovers Lane by the Gobetweens 1988

 Those double l lp titles ! Tallulah is the first Gobetweens lp I bought and quickly hoovered up their back catalogue, Liberty Belle is probably their masterpiece  , Before Hollywood has my two favourite Gobetween's tracks on it, Spring Hill Fair is where that polished pop sound started to really emerge and Bright Yellow Bright Orange showed the quality control of the reunion wasn't  a one off.

Still the one I'd save from a fire is the 2 l word 16 lovers lane. In a way it was their own Rumours as at the time 4 of the band were ending relationships with each other. This can be seen especially in the songs of Robert Forster (his strongest set for a Gobetweens lp) all of which are steeped in melancholy and regret.

It kicks of with a 60s pop song of false hope , resigned plea Love Goes On. The tone is set in that the production on the lp is the best the band have managed , crystal clear with each guitar note sparkling.

The two singles were the hit that never was Streets of Your Town. One of those prefect summer pop songs that sounds like it was heaven made for the radio

There are two videos for the song , the first and by far the best features the band filmed in their favourite parts of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne

The second followed a re release is one of those blatant lets try and break them in America after some success with Was There Anything I Could Do and relocates them to Joshua Tree Park

Was There Anything I Could Do echoes back to an earlier sound and sticks out  a bit on the lp. It's my least favourite track by some distance (the fact that it is a Grant track shows how much Robert Forster raised his game on this lp), although in isolation away from the lp it sounds a lot better.

The video is a bit odd hopefully with a capital ironic

The core of the lp are some heartbreakingly beautiful sad songs. Grant's Quiet Heart - the below version from an acoustic radio session

and Robert's break up songs Dive for Your Memory and I'm Alright. Robert Forster always seemed the confident showman of the duo and in these two he has never sounded so vulnerable

Listening to Forster talk about writing Dive For Your Memory it has struck me just how much water is referenced in his songs on the lp.

The version below of I'm alright below is the acoustic demo made prior to recording the lp

Re listening to the lp again I realise what made them so good and what is also missing from their solo lps . They just go so well together and each bought stuff the other couldn't do. As I've written before , during their time apart I'd catch myself taking their solo lps and picking the best 5 tracks from each and thinking this is what the Gobetweens lp would have been like and it was always more than the sum of its parts.

I thought I'd do something  a bit different for this post.

in 2006 a bunch of Australian musicians came together and put on a Gobetweens tribute concert. They also recorded a follow up lp Write Your Adventures down .

I'm afraid I know nothing of the musicians involved but here are the tracks from 16 Lovers Lane. Recorded after Grant's death Dive for Your Memory is especially poignant

Street of Your Town - Bob Evans

Dive for Your Memory - Glenn Thompson

Hold Your Horses -  Sarah Blasko

and as an extra here is a beautiful version of a song form their debut lp Send me a Lullaby

You can buy 16 Lovers Lane here   it is a tad expensive but well worth it


  1. Nice summary and enjoyed the clips. Flawless production, Amanda Brown's contributions crucial, Willsteed's guitar break on 'Streets' one my favorite on any record ever. Hell, I even like the RF songs! Easy pick as my favorite too.

    Tallulah was also my intro to the Go-B's. You've got me curious about your 2 faves from BH. I'm guessing Cattle and Cane & That Way? My Top 5... 1) Bye Bye Pride, 2) Streets Of Your Town, 3) Quiet Heart, 4) Right Here, 5) Cattle & Cane. Is my bias is showing!!! As much as I do enjoy RF's tunes on 16 LL, I'm afraid Robert will forever remain in my mostly unpalatable bin.

    #7 - PREFAB SPROUT - "STEVE McQUEEN" (2007 - remastered + acoustic tracks)

    - I initially thought this was a no-brainer. Then on the weekend I decided to listen to all of the PS albums. $#!+... This was not going to be so easy! The sprawling epic that is 'Jordan' sounded more wildly creative & tuneful than ever; and 'Andromeda Heights' which I'd always discounted as being a bit uncool MOR with it's more transparent & optimistic lyrics, suddenly emerged as a gorgeous collection of 12 heavenly pop songs (perhaps I'm getting old & soft?). But what about the no-brainer, my all-time favorite Steve McQueen? Since the advent of the CD, I'd gotten into the habit of punching 'Skip' on Hallellujah & Blueberry Pies... Argh!

    It was the words of your post today that finalized my decision... "the one I'd save from a fire." That made it a snap. There's no way I could live without When Love Breaks Down, Appetite, Bonny, Goodbye Lucille, Desire As... STEVE McQUEEN it is!!!

    I won't say much else as I'm sure it will reappear shortly...

  2. Dusty in here is the other one . About gms father and a song that never fails to move me. Im not sure i could a top 5 ! I would struggle at a top 10. For ps it was down to a poss 3 , seriously only 2 and really only ever going to be 1 so a bit like your journey. Strangely one of your favs is my least fav
    when it first came out blueberry pies would have been my skip track but i now love it as much as the others.

  3. Already waxed on 16 LL and currently waxing my Prefab vinyl...

  4. Don't know if I could pick a top five Go-Betweens list. If I did it off the top of my head it would probably be Liberty Belle heavy but subject to extreme and rapid change...
    Nice summary of 16 LL. Has me listening again.

  5. I saw RF supporting Dave Graney in Freo quite a few years back. He was selling his CDs after the gig so I went over and blurted out (i'd had a few beers) "I saw you in Ibrox in 89 and you were brilliant" to which her replied " I was there last summer and I was still brilliant". He signed my CD and completed a happy evening for me.
    Also had the good fortune to see the reformed duo early in their comeback, again in Freo. Again, they were superb.
    No ones mentioned 'PArt company', possibly my favourite but like Seamus, subject to extreme and rapid change. Very hard to pick a top five only!
    Like you, it was TallulahI started with, but 16LL that sealed the day. There isn't a dud track on it.
    Thanks for posting the videos. Love the blog.

    1. thanks RF - Part company is a great song , I've decided like Seamus a top 5 is just an impossible task

  6. 16 Lovers Lane was my intoduction to the Go-Betweens. Have to agree, not a dud track on it but still happy with my choice of 'Bright Yellow Bright Orange', just a bit more polished,which doesn't always mean better ,ofcourse, but in this case and my #7 it's an improvement ,I think
    #7 The Lilac Time - Paradise Circus. I know Stephen Duffy wasn't happy about their record company pushing for 'singles' and 'to Americanize' the album, but I think it's better for it. Some real standout singles in 'American Eyes','Days of the week' and the fabulous 'The Girl Who Waves At Trains'.Again ,not a dud track on the album
    The girl who waves at trains ( live)
    Tim - If there was one cetainty on us doing our lists is that we'd all have Prefab Sprout in out top 10. For me, it was always going to be down to two, Steve McQueen being one of them

    1. great lp as they all are - I think Andy partridge's part production on And for Love of all just sways it for me re the "early "lps

  7. Another top choice and not sure if you mentioned this before but The Cherry Orchard do a rather great cover version of "Streets Of Your Town" ( and The Grant McLennan tribute album that came out a while back was quite well done -

    I had looked for the tribute you mentioned a few years ago but it was very hard to find unless you wanted to pay a lot of money for it.

  8. Another top choice and not sure if you mentioned this before but The Cherry Orchard do a rather great cover version of "Streets Of Your Town" ( and The Grant McLennan tribute album that came out a while back was quite well done -

    I had looked for the tribute you mentioned a few years ago but it was very hard to find unless you wanted to pay a lot of money for it.

    1. cheers Wally - not heard the tribute you mention so will be trying to get a copy

  9. Heard you the first time Wally!
    I was nearly on that GM tribute album. Miracle Mile's 'Ghostwritten' was pitched for it.
    Unsure as to why it was rejected; it was either 'too up' or 'too down'...

    1. Trevor, I would love to hear your cover of "Ghostwritten" is it up on the web somewhere? That's a shame they didn't use your track.


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