The Go-Betweens

G Stands for Go Betweens, Vol. 1

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Though the Go-Betweens' time ended tragically with Grant McLennan's death in 2006, the band's legend and influence has only grown since then as more and more young bands and artists discover them. Despite their august status, the group's albums had sadly fallen out of print in the U.S. and U.K. by 2015. With the help of band co-founder Robert Forster, Domino began to remedy that with G Stands for Go-Betweens, Vol. 1, a giant set that contains vinyl editions of the band's first three albums (1982's Send Me a Lullaby, 1983's Before Hollywood, and 1984's Spring Hill Fair), a collection of their first five singles, four CDs of rarities, and a really nice selection of written materials. The three albums chart the coming of age of the band, moving from the angular, well-read art punks of the early singles (helpfully collected on one album here) and albums to the more sophisticated, emotionally powerful pop band they had become by the time they recorded the heartbreakingly lovely song "Cattle and Cane" and the near-brilliant Spring Hill Fair. The rarities are organized chronologically, beginning with a bracing bunch of early demos from the late '70s. A rambunctious live set from 1982 is also included, as are many demos that show some avenues not taken, early versions of some classic songs ("Bachelor Kisses," most interestingly), a great Peel session from 1984, and at least one, maybe two, handfuls of songs that had never seen the light of day previously. While many of the rarities had indeed been released in one form or another over the years, and most fans of the band will already have the albums and singles in question, it's still nice, and revelatory, to have everything from the era collected in one place. Especially useful is the First Five Singles album, which shows that the band started off right away crafting super hooky and powerful songs. It may be the part of the set listeners will keep going back to over and over, especially when they need a quick blast of post-punk pop genius like "Lee Remick" or "Don't Let Him Come Back." Along with the music, the supplemental materials also make the set worth getting for the hardcore devoted, with Forster writing a typically trenchant essay and even some of McLennan's poems included. G Stands for Go-Betweens is a labor of love, carefully put together by Forster with obvious affection, and essential for any fan of the band, especially those who treasure their tumultuous formative years over their more full-formed, yet still quite tumultuous, later period.

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