published in NME, 4th June 1983
Since paedophilia got the better of intellect somewhere back in ’81 the shivering thrill of pop has been a rare pleasure. It’s certainly something you don’t expect to discover in the desolate surroundings of a miserable college gig. But this was a night with the delight of surprise in the air, a night to look beyond the disconsolate tinsel of the pap parade and glory in the glint on the edge of the Go Betweens’ pop knife.
‘Before Hollywood’ has been the most unpredictable triumph of the year so far, an LP of cool subtlety but with a lingering shadow of sharper wit behind it. Just as the Postcard sound seemed ground down to a self-parodic simper, Orange Juice and Aztec Camera have dropped their gangly appeal and discovered their potential to be truly beautiful. Now the slightest voice of early Postcard comes up with perhaps the most brilliant expression of it’s promise.
The message that comes through The Go Betweens’ glisten is that this is no time to be disheartened. This is the time rather to grasp for the few grains of brilliance that still sparkle in the sand-heap. Be moved by Yello, confronted by Foetus and startled by The Go Betweens.
Back in the mists of history, this band were a slight prospect, too far in the shadow of their influences. Now they are an encapsulation of the maverick in the post-Velvets scheme of things. On record they reach for intangible strands of feeling and catch the fine cobwebs of melody, entrancing with light strokes of surrealism, catching the heart with their immaculate deceptions. Live they’re a harder prospect altogether, a head-on emotive sweep that raises their art to the level of anthem. You could almost sing along.
They still wade through history but their influences are now more of a sparkle of amusement than an overwhelming weight. Robert Forster stands still with the style of David Byrne, Grant makes a sartorial nod to The Byrds (via the wardrobe of Mat Snow), while the Velvets and ‘Blonde On Blonde’ period Dylan swim through the strands of their sound. The current is strong enough to be innovative though.
Lindy Morrison’s fringe sweeps across her eyes as she lashes out a rhythm, the guitar and bass undulate in harmony, somewhere a voice says “It doesn’t have to be that way,” and a familiar but all too dimly remembered excitement wells up through their power.
The Go Betweens pull at the heartstrings in a manner you’d have thought was impossible in the aftermath of all those trite pop affairs. It’s all so simple – discard the dirt and look for the diamonds. Go for the Go Betweens. (Don Watson)