Australia - Full Moon 49 - 10/13/00
Friends Of Rachel Worth
Clearspot (Eur)/Jet Set (USA)/Tuba!
Good to have you back, lads! At least just for one more album, 12 years after the
last one! After the Go-Betweens dissolved in late 1989, when Grant McLennan and Robert
Forster took on different paths, I haven't expected to see them back together again with
new recordings. Well, they did come together in 1996 for some nostalgic gigs, but
they've been carrying on with their solo careers. Maybe it was the compilations of last
year, Bellavista Terrace - Best Of The Go-Betweens and 78-79-Lost Album, that
triggered a new go? Could there still be magic?
Opening track Magic In Here sure is a good start. It's quite clear the Go-Betweens
are back in "town". And this time the location is set on the US western coast, in Portland,
Orgeon, where The Friends of Rachel Worth was recorded. Pavement mainman Steve Malkmus
kindly offered some amp equipment, and Elliott Smith is said to contribute on keyboard (if so
he's not credited). Smith's backing-buddy Sam Coomes (from Quasi) plays keyboards, Janet
Weiss (of Sleater-Kinney) handle the drums, while Adele Pickvance (from the Dave Graney Show,
who's previously been playing with both Forster and McLennan on solo projects) plays the bass.
But, of course, the main roles belong to Robert and Grant.
As always they sing their own compositions. Of the 10 tracks included on The Friends
of Rachel Worth they've written five each. Robert is in charge of the "eccentric" songs,
while Grant does the poppier ones. Extrovert versus introvert. The Clock is a classic
Grant McLennan poppy roller, while his Heart and Home becomes a bit to plain. Then again
he's picking up with the tip-toe pop-song Going Blind (where also Carrie and Corin from
Sleater-Kinney step in). Robert's German Farmhouse is brilliant, sounding somehow like
some other veterans: think Wire (post-154) matched with Tom Verlaine. His more quiet
Spirit is also shimmering, showing spirit and strength, indeed being spiritual. The
trademark of Go-Betweens lives on: the difference in contrast, balance and temperature in
their compositions is the clue. Some friendly rivalry, breeding creativity. Like a non-violent,
The Friends of Rachel Worth is a solid album. Not a classic as Liberty Belle
And The Black Diamond Express or Tallulah (go see my brief peek in the rear mirror), but good company.
And it's clearly showing that the Go-Betweens have been of importance to Malkmus, Smith, and
a lot of other indie-pop "kids" during the last decade. BTW: who's Rachel?
Distribution in Norway: Tuba!
Copyright © 2000 Håvard Oppøyen