60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #37


Before Hollywood – The Go-Betweens (1983)

This was a particularly tough one.  It took me a few days to decide which Go-Betweens album to include in the rundown.  I’m also thinking, as I type these words, that if I had gone for one of the others, there’s a distinct possibility that it would have placed higher than #37.

Before Hollywood is not their ‘best’ album, but it’s the one that means the most to me. It’s another record that takes me back to 1993, moving out of the parental home and into a shared student flat, trying to find ways to stand on my own two feet.

One of the two friends who I was sharing with had an astonishing collection of records as well as a state of the art stereo system on which to play them.  One of the singles he played more often than others was Cattle and Cane, but he also gave regular airings to the band’s new album.  The continued exposure to the album could have worked two ways – I could have got so sick and tired of hearing it that I’d have hated it, or I would soon get so lovingly acquainted with it that I could recite every single lyric.   I don’t think I need to spell out which way it went.

The only thing was that I didn’t go out and buy my own copy of the album, not even when that particular flat sharing arrangement came to an end after a year and I moved into a different location in a larger flat, not too far as it turns out where, many years later, I’d settle down in Villain Towers.  I only got round to buying Before Hollywood in the mid-80s*. Indeed, Liberty Belle and The Black Diamond Express, released in 1986, was the first Go-Betweens album I bought immediately on its release, and it came very close to making the rundown as it reminded me of a different flat-sharing situation in Edinburgh.  But then again, 16 Lovers Lane, released in 1988, was also under very serious consideration, on the basis that I think it is their ‘best’ album.

The thing about Before Hollywood is that it’s an album in which the standout track, Cattle and Cane, is so ridiculously far ahead of the others that there’s a temptation to think of them as not being great songs in their own rights.  It’s also fair to conclude that it’s a record on which the songs of Grant McLennan are way ahead, in terms of quality, than those of Robert Forster. Indeed, Robert would soon admit that listening to Before Hollywood was a real wake-up call in that he realised he had to up his game in terms of his songwriting.

mp3: The Go-Betweens – That Way

The gloriously uplifting album closer. It was, and still is, my cue to turn the record over and listen again.

*I know that in setting out the rules for this rundown, any album in the rundown had to have been bought at the time of its release.  In this instance, the fact it was owned by a flatmate and there was no need for a duplicate purchase allows it a free pass.


4 thoughts on “60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #37

  1. Lovely summary . Agree 16 lovers Lane is their best lp but cattle and Cane. ……

  2. I really enjoy this rundown not only because it brings back great memories of bands and records that I used to play when they were released. Listening to those records after a long time makes me feel good. Thank you for these inspirations my friend

  3. Cattle And Cane, Dusty In Here, A Bad Debt, That Way . . . Grant’s imperial phase for sure. I’m maybe leaning to Spring Hill Fair, but no real quibbles with this. Should be higher obvs. . .

  4. Have to agree that Liberty Belle… or 16 Lovers Lane are better. But response to music is emotional and so the circumstances one hears it in is going to carry significant weight. Can’t argue with Cattle and Cane.

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