Published Dec 18, 2019Coming nearly five years after Volume 1, which anthologized the formative years of the Go-Betweens, G Stands for Go-Betweens: Volume 2, 1985-1989 covers the group's creative peak, a period during which they released three of the finest albums of literate relationship songs and romantic pop music of the decade. Those three full-lengths (Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express, Tallulah and personal favourite 16 Lovers Lane) are all accounted for here in new vinyl pressings and freshly remastered — and that alone is plenty enough to make G Stands… easy to recommend — but they are only part of why this set is a necessary purchase for both neophytes and longtime fans.
G Stands… conveniently gathers in one place almost everything that the Go-Betweens recorded during the second half of the 1980s: the albums, singles and B-sides, a pair of songs from an April 1986 BBC session, and a gorgeous five-song acoustic set recorded by Grant McLennan, Robert Forster and Amanda Brown for Deirdre O'Donoghue's show on KCRW.
This beautiful, lavish package also includes a previously unreleased Liberty Belle & the Black Diamond Express songbook and a 112-page book of liner notes featuring Forster's typically sober band history, plenty of rare photos and memorabilia (such as pages from Forster's diary, or a guest list for a September 1986 show at London's Astoria) as well as essays from writers, friends and associates. Even at 129 songs and almost eight hours of music, G Stands… is not quite exhaustive: a handful of single mixes, radio sessions and live covers that appeared as bonus tracks on 2004 reissues are missing. However, they are not really missed, especially in light of the treasure trove of previously unheard material available here for the first time.
For one, this set marks the release of Fountain of Youth, a dynamic, often effervescent concert at London's Town and Country Club professionally recorded in May 1987, before the release of Tallulah, for a planned live album. Do not miss the devastating "Apology Accepted," as well as an ebullient version of "Spring Rain" — both are almost certainly definitive.
While the 18-song, 2LP Fountain of Youth is a great addition to the Go-Betweens catalogue and excellent document of the group's live prowess following the addition of Brown on violin, the true prize here undoubtedly comes in the form of Loving Shocks, two vibrant, vital discs filled with 28 demos for the planned followup to 16 Lovers Lane (working title: Freakchild) recorded by McLennan and Forster in Forster's Sydney apartment in the fall of 1989. Some of these songs have been bootlegged for years and a few were later polished up for McLennan and Forster's solo albums, but the vast majority had never seen the light of day until now, and certainly not in mostly pristine sound.
Taken together, these 97 minutes of music provide a tantalizing glimpse of the direction the group could have taken had it not disbanded at the end of 1989. Absolutely essential—if you can still find a copy, that is. (Domino)