How the love was lost from a rock odyssey

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

Great Aus­tralian Al­bums The Go- Be­tweens: 16 Lovers Lane 10pm, SBS

EV­ERY great Aus­tralian al­bum in his­tory has a story at­tached to it.

So, even if you don’t agree with its lofty rank­ing, chances are there will be some­thing to be en­joyed in its dis­sec­tion.

This well- con­structed doc­u­men­tary se­ries be­gins its sec­ond round with the tale of 16 Lovers Lane , the Go­B­e­tweens’ sixth al­bum, one that ri­vals Fleet­wood Mac’s Ru­mours for the per­sonal and pro­fes­sional dra­mas among its pro­tag­o­nists, if not for its com­mer­cial suc­cess.

When Bris­bane’s pop- rock ex­po­nents recorded 16 Lovers Lane in Syd­ney in 1988 they had just spent seven years based in Lon­don be­ing ac­claimed by crit­ics and tour­ing heav­ily but en­joy­ing lit­tle fi­nan­cial re­ward for their ef­forts.

Song­writer Robert Forster had re­cently sep­a­rated from drum­mer Lindy Mor­ri­son, while vi­o­lin­ist- oboist Amanda Brown had be­come an item with the other song­writer, Grant McLen­nan. Both of th­ese de­vel­op­ments are touched on in the lyri­cal con­tent of the al­bum and in the film.

Add to that new bass player John Will­steed who, like the al­bum’s English pro­ducer Mark Wal­lis, had lit­tle pro­fes­sional re­spect for Mor­ri­son and you have a recipe for fraught record­ing ses­sions but which in the retelling makes es­sen­tial view­ing.

Mor­ri­son is the most vo­cal here, be­ing en­dear­ingly hon­est about her per­cus­sive lim­i­ta­tions and about the re­la­tion­ships, failed or oth­er­wise, within the unit. Brown con­fesses that she and Mor­ri­son never for­gave the two blokes when they broke up the band soon af­ter the al­bum flopped.

All the band mem­bers speak can­didly about the events sur­round­ing the record­ing and about the songs. McLen­nan, who died in 2006, is seen re­call­ing the pe­riod in in­ter­views culled from a va­ri­ety of sources.

The songs that made up the al­bum — Streets of Your Town, Quiet Heart , Dive for Your Mem­ory, Clouds and six oth­ers — en­cap­su­late ‘‘ all the stages of love’’, Brown says.

Streets of Your Town be­came one of the band’s best known songs but, Mor­ri­son re­veals, caused re­sent­ment from Forster since it was added at the last minute from McLen­nan’s batch.

If there was bit­ter­ness and back­bit­ing at the time there was joy also, as can be seen on the lim­ited footage of them from the time. There’s joy too, mostly, in the re­flec­tions of each of the par­tic­i­pants as they look back on what was un­doubt­edly a land­mark in the band’s ca­reer.

Syd­ney song­writer Ben Lee adds his con­tri­bu­tion, cit­ing the Go­B­e­tweens as one of the strong­est in­flu­ences on his ca­reer.

Oth­ers to come in this se­ries of four are Pow­derfin­ger’s Odyssey Num­ber Five , Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ Mur­der Bal­lads , and Hun­ters and Col­lec­tors’ Hu­man Frailty .

All of them are com­pelling. Given there are plenty of great Aus­tralian al­bums still out there, this se­ries should be fol­lowed by many more.

Iain Shed­den

Trou­bled: Robert Forster re­flects on the Go- Be­tweens’ dif­fi­cult times

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