It was sometime last year that I picked up the vinyl re-issues of the first two solo albums recorded and released by Robert Forster. They are each things of beauty, coming finely packaged, complete with a bonus 7″ single and Robert’s newly supplied liner notes to help put things into context.
The debut album was Danger In The Past, recorded over just 14 days in June/July 1990, some six months after the Go-Betweens had broken up. By this time, Robert was living with his new wife, Karin Baumler, in a Bavarian farmhouse which is where most of its nine songs were written. A combination of good luck and knowing the right people enabled the album to be recorded in the famous Hansa Studios in Berlin. His old friend, Mick Harvey, had taken on the task of producing the record, and in doing so had persuded Thomas Wydler and Hugo Race to join him in the studio. In effect, it was Robert Forster and the Bad Seeds who convened for those two weeks with the end result being very much to everyone’s satisfaction. Robert has since said it was one of his most treasured recording experiences, finally getting into the type of studio hadn’t ever really had the resources to book, armed with songs which saw him move in different directions from before. He has described the title songs as being….‘ like a folk song, and none of my songs on any Go-Betweens record were like that or had six verses. It had a classic folk chord sequence that Neil Young could’ve written, that Gordon Lightfoot could’ve written’
mp3: Robert Forster – Danger in The Past
I should also mention that Karin Baumler supplied vocals to the title track, he first of what would be many contributions to Robert’s wongs and live shows ever since.
I don’t want to go overboard with the music from the album, given the fact it contains just the nine tracks. The album came out on Beggars Banquet, the label which the Go-Betweens had been signed to for the final few years, and while there wasn’t a single officially lifted from it, a promotional 45 featuring the jaunty, magnificent and poppy album opener, Baby Stones, (with its piano lines eerily similar to Don’t Go Back To Rockville) had been pressed up and sent to radio stations. A promo video was also shot:-
It’s b-side wasn’t on the album and when Needle Mythology issued the 2020 re-pressing they made it available on the bonus 7″:-
mp3: Robert Forster – The Land That Time Forgot
I’ll get round soon enough to posting something from Calling From a Country Phone, the follow-up album originally released in 1993.
5 thoughts on “DANGER IN THE PAST”
Great post, incredible music.
Today (May 6th) marks the 15th anniversary of Grant Mclennan’s untimely passing. Robert has posted a beautifully moving tribute to Grant on his Facebook page
Still my fav of his solo lps . A lot of the songs were written for the next gobetweens lp and we’re recorded as acoustic demos as a duo ( they had planned to make a more acoustic lp without other band members
Robert never had Grant’s voice or melodic sense, but I think this album highlighted his strengths – his best until The Evangelist I thought.
BTW Tracey Thorn has a book about Robert’s Go-Betweens and life partner Lindy Morrison which is excellent. My Rock and Roll Friend. Robert comes out of it mostly fine (despite them breaking and until the band breaks up), Grant less so. Its very much Tracey’s view of Lindy’s view of Grant.
I read Robert’s book fairly recently and it revealed a lot for me about him, Grant and the band.