The Go-Betweens – G Stands For Go-Betweens: Volume 1 1978-1984


The Domino Recording Company has released the details of the upcoming Go-Betweens box set, G Stands For Go-Betweens: Volume 1 1978-1984, and it’s a doozy, stuffed with classics, rarities, and previously-unreleased material. It includes four vinyl albums, four compact discs, a 112-page book, a silk-screened promotional poster advertising the band’s first single, and a reproduction of their first press release.

In addition, in a very Go-Betweens-esque move, the first 600 orders will come with a book from the personal library of the late Grant McLennan, along with a “specially printed” bookmark, signed by Robert Forster.

The whole thing costs about $160 USD, and Domino estimates that it will ship in January.

If you’re still reading, it’s safe to say you’re already a fan, so I’m going to dispense with any attempts to describe the band’s style and history, and instead offer a breakdown of the musical contents of the box.

The collection follows the recent trend of giving the vinyl treatment to essential, well-known works and stuffing a bunch of rare material on compact discs, as a cost-controlling measure. This will frustrate vinyl purists, but it keeps the package from being even more expensive (and this thing is already prohibitively pricey for all but the most diehard fans).

The band’s first three proper albums, Send Me A Lullaby, Before Hollywood, and Spring Hill Fair, each get their first vinyl reissue in over thirty years, sourced from original analog master tapes. The box set also comes with “complimentary” 24 bit WAV or 320 kbps downloads of the remastered LPs.

The fourth vinyl disc compiles both sides of each of the Go-Betweens’ first five singles (“Lee Remick”, “People Say”, “I Need Two Heads”, “Your Turn, My Turn”, and “Hammer The Hammer”).

The four CDs, divided chronologically, are dedicated to rarities,. The track listings provided on Domino’s information page for the box set do not include specific information about the recordings, but a lot of the titles will be familiar to followers of the band.

The first disc, Life As Sweet As Lemonade, covers the period from 1978-79, and includes all of the non-single tracks that were on the 1999 (also CD-only) release 78 ’til 79: The Lost Album, plus “People Say” and “Don’t Let Him Come Back” (possibly different versions than the ones already covered on the set’s vinyl disc of singles). The real draws here are the previously-unreleased “Big Sleeping City” (the first Forster-McLennan composition), “The Night”, “Beachcomber”, “The Missing One”, “I Am An Architect”, “The Green Light Don’t Mean Go”, “Cold Flame (It Burns)”, “Only Sinners Care”, and “Lies”. These nine recordings have appeared on various bootlegs, but I’ve never heard them.

The second rarities disc, Skeletons That Cry, spans 1980-81, and includes six of the ten tracks (why not all?) from the extremely rare “semi-authorized” album of demos Very Quick On The Eye: Brisbane, 1981. Five of those were released on the bonus disc of the 2002 deluxe reissue of Send Me A Lullaby, but “It Took You A Week” appears here for the first time on CD. Otherwise-unreleased titles from this volume are “Day After Tomorrow”, “I Know Why”, “Circle You”, and “Red Epaulettes”.

The third volume of rarities, Live 82, covers a 12-song concert at Sydney’s Mosman Hotel, originally broadcast on radio. The set begins with “Metal And Shells”, which I initially hoped was an unfamiliar track, but is probably “Before Hollywood” before the band settled on that song title. One recording from this gig, “Distant Hands”,  was previously released on the 2002 SMAL bonus disc. Another track here, “Near The Chimney”, appeared on the bonus disc of the 2002 Before Hollywood reissue, but in studio demo form (which, frustratingly, doesn’t appear on this box set).

The fourth rarities disc, A Suicide Note To Satan, contains tracks from 1982-84. There are no unfamiliar titles on this volume, and it appears to cover much of the same material as the bonus discs from the 2002 deluxe CD reissues of Before Hollywood and Spring Hill Fair: single versions, B-sides, studio demos, Peel Sessions, and the live-only “Just Right For Him”.

And this is only Volume One!

Here’s the full version of Grant McLennan’s eternal “Cattle Cane”, from the Go-Betweens’ first masterpiece, Before Hollywood.