The Go-Betweens - Every Album Ranked

by Andy Brown
Comments (6)

Despite having a strong and committed fan base, it’s hard to escape the fact that The Go-Betweens feel like one of the great ‘lost’ indie bands. To paraphrase a Television Personalities album, they really should have been bigger than The Beatles (or at least as lauded as their British contemporaries, The Smiths).

Formed in Brisbane, Australia in 1977, The Go-Betweens were built around the songwriting skills of Robert Forster and Grant McLennan. 78’s ‘Lee Remick’ would be the band’s first single, 2 and a half minutes of indie pop/punk perfection.

Drummer Lindy Morrison joined a few years later and they announced themselves to the world with 81’s Send Me a Lullaby. 1983’s Before Hollywood saw the band refine their skills and contained McLennan’s iconic ‘Cattle and Cane’.

’83 brought the wonderful Spring Hill Fair and saw the introduction of bassist Robert Vickers. The superb Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express album followed in 1986. It’s a quintessential indie LP, featuring two of Forster’s best-loved songs - ‘Spring Rain’ and ‘Head Full of Steam’.

Violinist/ multi-instrumentalist Amanda Brown jumped on board for 87’s pop tour-de-force, Tallulah. The upbeat ‘Right Here’ and the majestic ‘Bye Bye Pride’ saw McLennan serve up two of the albums undeniable highpoints.

1988 saw the band release their masterpiece, 16 Lovers Lane. It’s a gobsmackingly beautiful album, full of the bands distinctive striped sunlight sound. Both McLennan and Forster were on the top of their game while the band, despite personal tensions, sounded fantastic.

16 Lovers Lane would be the only album to feature bassist John Willsteed. It would also be the last Go-Betweens album for 12 years. Solo albums followed but The Go-Betweens seemed to be resigned to the back-pages of indie history.

2000 saw McLennan and Forster reform The Go-Betweens with a completely new line-up, featuring members of Sleater-Kinney and Quasi. The Friends of Rachel Worth stands as a worthy successor and was followed by 2003’s Bright Yellow Bright Orange and 2005’s award-winning Oceans Apart. Then in 2006, at the age of 48, Grant McLennan died.

The Go-Betweens remain reasonably obscure yet their legacy lives on. Forster released his seventh solo effort, Inferno, earlier this year while Louis Forster, his son, fronts Brisbane’s latest indie-pop sensation, The Goon Sax.

Below I’ve tried to order the bands albums. It’s no easy task when you love a band this much yet 16 Lovers Lane was always going to be my top choice. Not every band gets to make one but it really is a perfect album.

Beyond this, I’d recommend picking up 2007’s Intermission, a two-disc compilation of McLennan and Forster’s solo output. If you’re still intrigued then you should search out the documentary Right Here and Robert Forster’s autobiography, Grant & I. There’s also a rather gorgeous live CD/DVD called That Striped Sunlight Sound.

They’ve been gone a while now but if you haven’t discovered them yet then The Go-Betweens could very well be your new favourite band.
Click an album below to read a review

Comments (6)

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Love this band. Liberty Belle is one of those albums I can just glance at the song titles and play them back in my head. A true classic. Great list.

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Thanks Mark. Yeah, they've become one of my absolute favourite bands since I first picked up 16 Lovers Lane around 2011ish.

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I think I still have that one on vinyl in my meager remaining record collection. Bought the week it came out. Further proof I'm old!

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Amazing! (getting older has it advantages). I picked up Before Hollywood on vinyl in Oxfam and the rest on CD through discogs. Long overdue the reissue treatment so everyone can enjoy them!

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Thanks for the list! I got their debut a few years back and confess it left me cold but. But I know I'm missing out on some great stuff. So this is a big help in terms of how to approach them. Much appreciated!

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They're a great band, for me 16 Lovers Lane is untouchable. Just really beautiful songwriting. The top 5 are absolutely essential and should be the first ones you listen to. The others, especially The Friends of Rachel Worth, are ace too.

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