One for Friday — The Go-Betweens, “Was There Anything I Could Do?”

go betweens

Thirty years ago, in the autumn of 1988, the Go-Betweens released the album 16 Lovers Lane. It’s probably overstating it to proclaim the record the Go-Betweens’ version of Rumours, but there are some distinct similarities. There was a lot of tumult within the band, including shifting relationship drama. Some of the discombobulation was self-created, including a return to the band’s Australian homeland after operating with London as their home base for most of their recording career. The album was more sharply produced that its predecessors, and principal songwriters Grant McLennan and Robert Forster felt they’d carried the various new efforts from conception to completion with greater effectiveness than ever before. It was also probably the band’s best-selling album to that point.

Of course, 16 Lovers Lane has sold about 40 million fewer copies than Rumours, so the comparison can only go so far. At college radio, though, 16 Lovers Lane was a major hit. It is exactly the sort of album that is ideal when working through a playlist, mostly because every track is a gleaming wonder. Most of them are between three and four minutes and strike with pure pop perfection from the opening notes. I played everything off this records, but the chugging strum of “Was There Anything I Could Do?” hit a particular sweet spot for me. I knew college rock could be noisy or deliberately unpolished. The Go-Betweens taught me it could also be slick, smart, and highly accomplished.

Listen or download —> The Go-Betweens, “Was There Anything I Could Do?”

(Disclaimer: It appears to me that 16 Lovers Lane is currently out of print, at least as a physical item that can be procured from your favorite local, independently owned record store in a manner that compensates both the proprietor of said store and the original artist. I’m sharing this track with that understanding, but also as an encouragement to go out and buy some music. Anything from the Go-Betweens is a grand addition to a record collection. Although I feel I am operating under the legal principle of fair use, I will gladly and promptly remove this file from my little corner of the digital world if asked to do so by any individual or entity with due authority to make such a request.)

One thought on “One for Friday — The Go-Betweens, “Was There Anything I Could Do?”

  1. I proclaim from time to time that 16 Lovers Lane is my favorite album of all-time. I didn’t discover it until the summer of 90. McLennan’s opening one-two punch of “Love Goes On!” and “Quiet Heart” is both breath-taking and nearly heartbreaking. “Is There Anything I Could Do?” was the one I heard in real time on the radio in Champaign-Urbana; I remember liking it immediately. Forster’s contributions to the album took a little more time to grow on me, but they are amazing, too.

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