The Go-Betweens - ‘Tallulah’ (1987)
They made at least three of the greatest pop albums of all time, and the lush and polished Tallulah sits a tad awkwardly between the two released either side during The Go-Betweens mid-1980s peak. It’s a sonic leap away from the predominantly monochrome album number four, Liberty Belle and The Black Diamond Express, and a long way from their follow-up swansong 16 Lover’s Lane, which painfully soundtracked their sad and slow demise.
It was never a matter of giving up. The Go-Betweens tried everything to catch the eye of the masses. This was was earmarked for a major push in the US. Instead, it was the beginning of the end. Their effort was gargantuan. They left it all on the pitch.
They had travelled from Brisbane through France and on to London is search of the springboard that would catapult them to fame. They strove to reach the higher ground on their own terms, the creative way. There were as many detractors as arch devotees. Their brazen approach was the polar opposite of The Smiths, that year’s love.
But their music spoke for itself and it seems to say ever more to say with age. With Tallulah they reached for the stars, pulled more production tricks from the heavens than ever before and enlisted the multi-instrumentalist Amanda Brown to add further sparkle to their sound.
The great songwriting partnership of Grant McLennan and Robert Forster was always based on differing and at times almost contrasting styles and personalities. McLennan was romantic and wistful, Forster far more world-weary, wise, cynical and funny. The perfect counterpoint. The lines they weave here are their strongest yet. The remain one of the great songwriting duos of our age.
Their chemistry propels the sound in new directions. Love is in the air. A kind of romantic grace pervades the atmosphere. The sky is the limit. Forster is patently liberated by his partner’s upswing in mood.
A trick of the light and this record could be a ubiquitous fixture in the greatest records of all time. Who knows which way the wind is going to blow?