Here’s part 2 in my (ahem) Blast! from the past. Regular readers would have noticed the Flying Nun Records article that I republished from Blast! Magazine, a Melbourne fanzine I was involved with. I wish I could say that we were inspired by the early 20th Century, modernist journal of the Vorticist movement in the UK, but that would be a lie. I think we just liked the “vibe” of the name.
Better writers than I have lionized the works of Robert Forster, Grant McLennan and co. They had a storied past which began in Brisbane in the late 70’s and ended with the untimely passing of Grant McLennan in 2006, with a hiatus from 1989-2000. For the full story, there is the great, in-depth biography of the band by David Nichols, published by Verse Chorus Press.
Here is what is commonly regarded as one of their best songs, “Cattle and Cane”. In 2001, it was voted one of the Top 30 Australian songs.*
In 2007, a tribute album appeared, as reviewed on Mess+Noise.
A lesser known tribute was released in 1996 on Hippy Knight Records. I commissioned an article about the making of this album for Blast! #5. It was written by a chap named Craig Barnes, who was more commonly known as “Cousin Creep”. I would see him around town at gigs and he also went on to present a show on Triple R. When I heard that he was putting together the record, I asked if he would write a piece chronicling how he did it.
Here is the track listing:
01 – Pray TV – Bachelor Kisses
02 – Flat Stanley – Love Goes On
03 – Smudge – I Just Get Caught Out
04 – The Buzzards – Was There Anything I Could Do
05 – The Meanies – Lee Remick
06 – Sean Sennett and Friends – Dont Call Me Gone
07 – The Steinbecks – Draining The Pool For You
08 – The Earthmen – The House Jack Kerouac Built
09 – Tender Engines – This Girl Black Girl.
10 – Frente – Clouds
11 – Snout – Karen
12 – Go Between – Go-Betweens
13 – Headache – Core Of A Flame.
14 – Free Moving Curtis – Hammer The Hammer.
15 – Holocene – Spring Rain
16 – Killjoys – Devils Eye
17 – Lust In Space – Apology Accepted – Part Company
18 – Ashtray Boy – Right Here
19 – Sunglass – Bye Bye Pride
20 – The Blackeyed Susans – Dive For Your Memory.
21 – The Drunk The Monk and The Spunk – Rock n Roll Friend
*It’s interesting that no one was brave enough to do a version of “Cattle and Cane” on either tribute album.
…and here is The Earthmen, with their version of “The House Jack Kerouac Built”
“Right Here” — a Tribute to The Go-Betweens
by Cousin Creep
WARNING: The follow article contains NAME DROPPING. As much as I hate doing it unfortunately there was no way of getting around it since the following name drops actually took place…
WHY DO A GO-BETWEENS TRIBUTE?
It was never meant to be the 21 track behemoth CD it became. Well, allow me to explain myself (thanks to Ed for allowing me to). I was going out with a girl that forever wanted me to do a single with Killdozer covering ‘Spring Rain’. Thinking Killdozer had split, the idea was just left on the back burner (or me just being slack, I forget). I did listen to The Go-Betweens at the time, but when the grunge explosion hit (early 1989 to late 1990) I then went into denying ever listening to The Go-Betweens (and other cool stuff from the 80’s). I stupidly preferred to stick my ostrich head into the honeypot of grunge. Music in the post ‘Nevermind’ world was starting to get nasty and sour. The majors started giving music consumers the 90’s equivalent to Jefferson Airplane (Smashing Pumpkins) & third rate rehashes of what happened 15 years ago (Green Day / Offspring). To combat this, I decided to dust off the idea of a Go-Betweens split 7″, although it seemed obsolete doing vinyl, so a tribute CD was planned. Of course I was hoping this tribute would be easier to compile, than the ill fated New York Dolls tribute I had tried to compile a few years before.
GO-BETWEENS COVERS IN A GRUNGE VEIN?
A list of bands was scribbled down containing both American & Australian outfits and I hit the phone long distance calling O.S to ask around for who’d wanna be on it. Faced with the usual “We’re on Tour for the Next 6 Months/ Our Record Label Won’t Let Us & The Drummer’s Mother is Sick” it was decided that in order to get the record out by the next millennium it would have an entire Australian content. So with a sizeable wish list of Australian bands and riding high on STD calls, it was soon a sinch to compile the fucker. What I found surprising was that most bands had a softspot for the Go-Betweens and I received very few ‘Thanks but No Thanks’ (There was one in particular I received from a certain well known manager of a fine stable of hi profile indie rawk acts, who after declining one of his acts I said “I was thinking of asking Frente” he responded “I would never get Frente to ever appear on it” and abruptly hung up on me).
LIKE SHOOTING FISH WITHOUT A SEMI
What I found surprising was how easy it took to compile at first, when I first asked Link Meanie if The Meanies wanted to appear he simply responded “Only if we can do Lee Remick’ (The very song I wanted them to do). While listening to 16 Lover’s Lane. I could almost imagine Angie Hart of Frente singing ‘Clouds’ so a fax to White Records was sent. Expecting the thanks but no thanks fax I was sent the “Sure we’d love to !!!” (Whoa! In Otto from Simpsons Voice). Snout were also a real surprise to have on the comp. While in Adelaide for the Easter Weekend I introduced myself to Ross. He snapped to me “You won’t let us on your Tribute!”… “Well Ross you never asked”… While with some acts it involved just a short phone call other acts decided to call me to ask, “Why weren’t we considered” It was decided to include a run of bonus tracks on the 1st pressing to try to accommodate some of those wanting to be involved.
PATRON SAINT OF RIGHT HERE
Andy O’Brien or AO’B as he’s known, Produced, Recorded & Engineered a number of the tracks on the LP and mixed the finished product. He also saved the project from it being a 2 bands recording on the same day using the same drum set up. So thanks to AO’B the bands were spared the quick fuck in the elevator type recording sess.
COZ GW SEZ
Over the period of compiling the Tribute the only real involvement from members of the Go-Betweens was this. I did meet Grant McLennan at the Shock Records Xmas party (While being totally blind drunk). He did give me his blessing for the tribute but declined to do the liner notes, saying he didn’t want to be involved on that kind of level. I was however incredibly surprised when I received a fax from Grant (sent on behalf of Shock) with a list of Grant’s wish list of bands he’d want on it. The only other member was John Willstead who played on two tracks on the LP.
THE ONES THAT MISSED THE TITANIC
There were just a few acts that missed out on the comp… Incursion were to do a version of ‘Second Hand Furniture’, but in a drunken state lead singer Gus broke his hand on the night before recording. You Am I were to do ‘The Clarke Sisters’ but some lame reason was given why didn’t couldn’t appear after they agreed to. Cosmic Psychos had some reason but that’s another story I’d rather not bore you with.
ARTWORKER ARTWOKER MAKE ME A MATCH
The original idea was to rip off the picture of Lee Remick that was used on the Go-Betweens ‘Able Label’ 12″ reissue and do some Warhol like colouring to it. When Nick Tklac from Roo Art / Headache pointed out to me that I’d probably get caught for doing that (the 80’s was cooler to get away with that shit) the search was on for an artist to design the whole thing. I did ask Simon Day to do the cover but he said the new Ratcat LP was coming up and that was taking his time… Rejection after rejection. One day while talking shit to Billy Baxter in Raoul Records a local artist K T overheard and hey presto problem solved…
HIGHLIGHTS OF RIGHT HERE AND OTHER INANE TRIVIA
Flat Stanley ‘Love Goes On’
I actually asked Flat Stanley to appear after the deadline had come round. I received their CDEP in the mail and was quite impressed. I had offered them a spot on the bonus, but their blitzing version of ‘Love Goes On’ was so good I put as track Number two.
Smudge ‘I Just Get Caught Out’
Cosmic Psychos were meant to record this song but Smudge decided to record it without telling me (ultra good instinct). Most of the acts on the tribute had to increase the tempo of an existing Go-Betweens song, Smudge on the other hand slowed down ‘I Just Get Caught Out’. It was also amusing having Smudge on the tribute, if you remember a few years back they had a slight falling out with G W over the ‘Don’t Wanna Be Grant McLennan’ 7″.
The Buzzards ‘Was There Anything I Could Do?’
Nik from The Buzzards used his 14 year old cousin from Ballarat to play violin on this track. She was obviously so impressed with coming to Melbourne to record that a week later she ran away from home and skipped off to Melbourne. The Buzzards corrupting minors? Also The Buzzards managed to change this McLennan song into sounding like Forster.
The Meanies ‘Lee Remick’
This was recorded the same time as their BMG Acca Dacca ‘Long Way to the Top’ track. I still think it’s way better than ‘Long Way’ and it’s certainly one of my fave on this.
Sean Sennett & Friends ‘Don’t call me Gone’
Quite a cool story behind this one, recorded at Sunshine Studios (where the Go-Betweens recorded their first two Able Label singles) and used the original engineer who did the said singles. Sean Sennett was originally in The Honeymen and he managed to get John Willstead (the last bass player for The Go-Betweens) to play on this as well. ‘Don’t Call Me Gone’ has that Monty Python ‘He’s a Lumberjack’ like quality into it too.
The Earthmen ‘The House Jack Kerouac Built’
The Earthmen are truly professionals, I was really impressed with the way they worked when they recorded it. They even arranged for some members of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra to play on this. Another carbon copy in my opinion but still just as good.
Frente could have played it safe doing another cute acoustic cover version. But having had such an established stereotype of that (Bizarre Love Triangle/Not Given Lightly etc) they instead used samples and tape loops on ‘Clouds’. To let you in on a few secrets, the drums were John Bonham, the strings were from an old Barry White record and lastly a sample from ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top’ on the last note of the guitar solo before the Bon’s bagpipes come in. Amazing.
If you must know, this sample was pinched from that immortal Australian cop show Bluey (the one The Late Show used for Bargearse).
Another tape loop type song and recorded on 4 track, all bass and drums on the verses and guitar on the chorus. It turns ‘Karen’ intoa soulful spaghetti western type groove. Ross McLennan take a bow.
Free Moving Curtis ‘Hammer The Hammer’
A true black sheep amongst the pearls I guess, this version of ‘Hammer The Hammer’ is quite deliberate. Most acts on this LP had such a hard time doing McLennan songs (due to worshipping at the church of GW) that they felt they had bit off more then they could chew. Free Moving Curtis didn’t respect or like The Go-Betweens and knew they would stick out like tits on a bull. They slap out ‘Hammer The Hammer’ with no apologies whatsoever and with a shit load of Killdozer like growl.
The Steinbecks ‘Draining The Pool For You’
I used to go to school with Joel & Josh from The Steinbecks (Back in the 80’s). They were huge indie rock fans especially The Go-Betweens. This is what you would call a carbon copy cover, but the inclusion of the trumpet on the end gives it an early 80’s ska / 2 Tone ish feel to it.
THE CARNIVAL IS OVER (Full time results)
This record ended up being my last release on Hippy Knight Records and we’ve now closed down (anyone wanna sink $$$’s into another venture contact me). There have been two comments I keep getting shit about since ‘Right Here’ was released…
- Not having enough Sydney or more particularly Brisbane Bands because The Go-Betweens were from there.
- Why didn’t JJJ make it LP of the Week?
Well it’s like this… Almost every Australian band wanted to be on it, the project could have been a Vulgar Tongue comp 10 times the size. But Hippy Knight had almost a non-existent budget to record and release this record & promote it (basically this record was recorded and mixed on what it cost to record just ONE! Count it, one track on BMG’s AC/DC tribute). As for JJJ, I tried to make as many people as happy as possible. But of course not everyone will be and people in this biz will stab you for not rubbing their back. Yes I would do things differently if I had a chance to compile this again but, I’m still damn fucking proud of the record. I’d like to see anyone else try to compile a tribute LP that didn’t suck like most tributes do. Oh yeah, it still didn’t sell even 0.1 of a percent as many as silverchair have.
by Cousin Creep (Retired from the Biz at 24.)
Right Here is available thru Shock Records.