Friday, May 12, 2006

Grant McLennan: Fly In Peace

Well we lost another brilliant face this last week - Go-Betweens main man Grant McLennan. I was Mushroom A&R manager when the band joined us, also coming out on Beggars Banquet in the UK. They all came in, all tall, wordily playful and shy, crowding out my Sydney office, playing three dream-come-true albums -

Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express (1986)
Tallulah (1987)
16 Lovers Lane (August 1988), only only the latter was officially through Mushroom.

Their film clips were so good I just about fainted with joy. With a band like that, the only thing an Artist & Repertoire Manager needs to do is thank her lucky stars. I cannot think of any way any of their output could be improved. The Go-Betweens' work is a lasting treasure that never dates or loses its extraordinary individuality, heart or passion, a melodious, mysterious celebration of love, frustration, nostalgia, musicality and the lust for life.

They also had the highest combined IQ of any band on the planet (I know this after conducting an exhausting set of tests with proper blinds) and despite this were charming, unassuming gals and fellas. When the band broke up late 89, I grieved severely, and co-wrote a semi-disguised song about it with Floyd Vincent, which he played with his band the Child Brides.

Big Rudy's Rio Band

Waving goodbye
Goodbye to the old school tie
I've seen you out with the old
In with the new
Bobby's a born-again blond
Another blonde here, another blonde there
A whole string section and all
With a twitch and a neverous stare
They found their way there

Big Rudy's Rio Band
They're playin' once again
And when my time is done
I'll beg to hear it all once again

Dearest Katherine
Dreamt I was your cello man
I've seen you out with the old
In with the new
Who's on the stairs with a knife
A little jab here
A little jab there
With hardly a word said beforehand
Slanted eyes never cracked a smile
When the room exploded

Big Rudy, don't do it
Play that song again
And when my time is done
I'll beg to hear it all once again

Leaving nothing to hold onto
And the hips still swaying
Hold the band together boys
Hold the band together boys...

The knife stuff teasingly referred to some wild politics in the band camp as the Go-Betweens and two couples, Robert and Lindy Morrison plus Grant and Amanda Brown split up in various incendiary fireballs. No blame shall be apportioned to any party by the obove facetious surrealism.

The classic Go-Betweens line-up Robert Forster and Grant McLennan on guitars and vocals, Lindy Morrison (drums), Amanda Brown (violin, oboe), and Robert Vickers (bass)/John Wilsteed (bass)was especially glorious.

Grant's outings with Steve Kilbey as Jack Frost are also worth chasing up. Condolences to Robert Forster especially, and Grant's immediate family and friends. A musical monolith noted, a great guy lost.

The boys can't hold the band together now, but at least they reformed for a while. Lee Remick, Before Hollywood, Cattle & Cane, Spring Rain, Head Full of Steam, Streets Of Your Town, Was There Anything I Could Do?, Dive For Your Memory and all the rest remain to keep us warm.

Love and gratitude,


1 comment:

Sean M Whelan said...

Nice post Jen. My heart has been breaking all week long over this sad, sad news. The Go-Betweens meant everything to me. 'Liberty Belle...' is an album I revisit often. 'Apology Accepted' one of the most beautiful songs ever written.