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Robert Forster and Grant McLennan - Intermission : The Best of the Solo Recordings 1990-1997

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 22 / 7 / 2007

Robert Forster and Grant McLennan - Intermission : The Best of the Solo Recordings 1990-1997
Label: Beggars Banquet
Format: CD


Superbly-packaged best of compilation of the four solo albums each produced by Robert Forster and the late Grant McLennan, the singer-songwriters with the still under-rated the Go Betweens

Firstly we should mention that this is no cash-in release following on from the untimely death of Grant McLennan. Beggars Banquet have respectfully waited over a year before releasing this collection of the ‘best of’ the four solo albums apiece produced by the two singer/songwriters from that much under-rated band the Go-Betweens. That one of the last things Grant did musically before he passed away was to choose his 13 songs makes this set even more poignant. Then the packaging of this double CD is superb. Coming in a simple but tasteful slip case each musician is represented by a 13 song CD encased in its own digi-pak along with a lyric book which also gives details of all the musicians involved on each track. It seems a lot of thought has gone into the production of this package and Beggars Banquet should be applauded for that. The Go-Betweens were one of those bands that never quite made the breakthrough that they should have done ; the breakthrough that they deserved. They were very much a cult band, in their early days at least. I bought each and every album as it was released back in the days when the thrill of holding a brand new Go-Betweens album on 12 inches of black shiny plastic was something it felt like only I was doing. Me and the music critics anyway, but I paid for mine. I still find it hard to describe what it was about this sound that the Go-Betweens made that appealed to me. It was like a double-edged sword in some ways. It was pop music but with a certain harder / angular sound than most of what was being produced then. Maybe because they both came from Australia but the only other band I associated them with was the Triffids although The Go-Betweens were the more accessible of the two groups. When the band split it wasn’t earth shattering news and anyway the solo albums from both Forster and McLennan in some ways more than compensated for the split; now I had twice as much Go-Betweens music to hear. When McLennan teamed up with Steve Kilbey from the Church in 1991 for his side project called Jack Frost it was a good sign that we hadn’t heard the last from them anyway. Those solo albums kept me going, much like the Go-Betweens records they were not albums I played every week but they were always there, whenever I wanted to hear pop music with some substance, with that edge that wasn’t forthcoming from other bands then out would come McLennan’s ‘Watershed’ or Forster’s ‘Calling From A Country Phone’. Those solo albums confirmed what I always felt about the Go-Betweens albums; Forster’s music had an edgier feel to it than that of the more romantic McLennan’s. Maybe it was what I was going through during those ‘solo’ years, I certainly didn’t think too much about it at the time, but I started to appreciate the work of McLennan more than that of Forster. It got to the point where if I wanted to hear the Go-Betweens I would opt for McLennan’s solo albums, ‘Fireboy’ in particular; ‘The Dark Side Of Town’ from that album, thankfully one of McLennan’s selections for this collection, is still one of my favourite songs of all time. But it had been some time since I had listened to Forster’s solo work prior to this collection falling into my sweaty hands. With the re-formation of the Go-Betweens and the release of albums like ‘The Friends Of Rachel Worth’ and ‘Bright Yellow Bright Orange’ those solo albums were beginning to gather dust anyway; one of my favourite bands were back at last. I was beginning to wonder, as superb as this collection is presented, who it would appeal to. Surely any Go-Betweens fan would have the solo albums anyway so what purpose would this ‘best of’ serve? But for some reason I played the Forster collection first and was totally surprised. This was good stuff. But most surprising was that as I had always favoured the more accessible work of McLennan over the years how immediately these sounds coming from Forster worked their way into me, so much so that I played the CD all the way through twice before even listening to McLennan’s collection. Maybe it’s because Forster’s 13 songs are not presented chronologically like those of McLennan’s or maybe it’s just that I had forgotten just how good Forster is as I hadn’t played his solo work for some time. So, for my part at least, this collection has made me return to the solo work of Forster once again and rediscover his music all over again. And it’s changed my view totally; I now see the solo work of these two musicians to be on a par with each other. So, thanks Beggars Banquet, for a superb package and for confirming that good, well written and well played music always stands the test of time.

Track Listing:-
1 Robert Forster- Falling Star
2 Robert Forster- Baby Stones
3 Robert Forster- 121
4 Robert Forster- I've Been Looking For Somebody
5 Robert Forster- I'll Jump
6 Robert Forster- Beyond Their Law
7 Robert Forster- I Can Do
8 Robert Forster- The Circle
9 Robert Forster- Cryin' Love
10 Robert Forster- The River People
11 Robert Forster- Frisco Depot
12 Robert Forster- Danger In The Past
13 Robert Forster- Falling Star (Original Version)
14 Grant McLennan- Haven't I Been A Fool
15 Grant McLennan- Easy Come Easy Go
16 Grant McLennan- Black Mule
17 Grant McLennan- The Dark Side Of Town
18 Grant McLennan- Lighting Fires
19 Grant McLennan- Surround Me
20 Grant McLennan- No Peace In The Palace
21 Grant McLennan- Hot Water
22 Grant McLennan- I'll Call You Wild
23 Grant McLennan- Horsebreaker Star
24 Grant McLennan- Malibu 69
25 Grant McLennan- One Plus One
26 Grant McLennan- In Your Bright Ray

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