Always The Traffic, Always The Lights

There aren’t too many band re-unions that go on to make decent music in their second lives (although I’m happy to be corrected on that). The Go-Betweens re-united and made Oceans Apart in 2005, with this standout track which I love to bits. It’s one of those narrative songs which so few people manage to do well. Robert Forster opens up a notebook, ‘The Darlinghurst Years’, and sparks off a train of bittersweet memories of his time living there- gut rot coffee, Joe playing the cello, the non-stop traffic and non-stop lights, Marjorie, Clint, Debbie, people who came and went, and Suzie who they never saw again. The music is equally good; dramatic guitar and strings, and a lone trumpet freaking out at the end.

Darlinghurst Nights

The picture shows Darlinghurst,a suburb of Sydney, at the start of the twentieth century.

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The Go-Betweens were an Australian group formed in the early eighties, inspired by punk, The Velvet Underground’s Loaded album and Jonathan Richman. They moved to London thinking the streets would be paved with post-punk gold and at first released a single on Postcard (home of Aztec Camera and Orange Juice). Based around twin songwriters Robert Forster and Grant McLennan they wrote some lovely, wistful, sardonic, imaginative songs releasing a slew of good albums. They ended with a nearly hit in 1988 with the single Streets Of Your Town (which Radio 1 only played on sunny days apparently) and the shiny 16 Lovers Lane album it came off. This song, Draining The Pool For You, sees Robert Forster (front in photo) imagining working for a decadent rock star as pool boy, becoming increasingly fed up with the decadent behaviour he sees. It’s from their 1984 album Spring Hill Fair. I was introduced to The Go-Betweens by an ex, who had 16 Lovers Lane. I think it was the only positive thing I got out of it.