on 14 October 2006
Robert Forster is best known as the tall one from the Go-Betweens, rather than for his solo work, and this may not even count for much as so many folk are still unaware that the Go-Betweens ever existed.
Robert Forster should really be more famous.From the Go-Betweens late 70s beginnings to the sad end of the band's career following the tragic death of Grant Mclennan in May 2006, Forster was a tall, dark, charismatic presence. He can pose like the best of him, raise an eyebrow like nobody else, he dresses like a debonair old dandy. You have to wonder why people don't say his name is the same breath as the use to mention a certain Steven Patrick Morrissey, but why the Go-Betweens never entered public consciousness on any grand scale will just have to remain a mystery.
Danger in the Past was the first solo record Forster made, in 1990, after the break-up of the band the previous year, and it was the first real chance for him to showcase his own songwriting on such a large scale.
This is a beautiful record. No Go-Betweens fan should be without it. I was a little waty, myself, being a true Go B's devotee, that it would be a bit tedious, a bit of a growing-old record, but listening to it quickly puts any fears aside.
It isn't the Go Betweens in any way. It's rather a wistful, soft collection of songs. At times forceful, but in general, it's the slowness, the intimacy and above all, the grace of the whole affair that draws you in.
Danger in the past, the title track, is a dark, thrilling little song, with all of Forster's grand knack for the melancholic and dramatic. Baby Stones, the album's lead-off single is a gorgeous, wry song where Forster plays the cuckolded narrator. Is this What You Call Change and I've Been Looking for Somebody are both beautiful songs, the former being a song of sadness and anger at events in the past, the latter a delicately hopeful ballad.
The only fault I'd pick with this record is that though the delicate, country style that Forster has grown into is lovely, you do find yourself pining for the preening, nervy, film noir star Forster of the mid 80s....but it is a beautiful, wise melodic collection of songs to live with...a good choice for fans of Leonard Cohen, Richard Hawley, and of course, the go betweens....lovely!
on 3 January 2013
"Danger In The Past" was Robert Forster's first solo album recorded after the (as it turned out, temporary) dissolution of the Go-Betweens at the end of 1989. It features, alongside Forster on vocals and guitar, his future wife, Karin Bäumler (on backing vocals on the title track) and three long-term collaborators of Nick Cave. It is a class effort, quite different in style from the Go-Betweens, but demonstrating many of that group's virtues - intelligence, wit, but with a slightly more restrained and "adult" feel - perhaps reflecting that the immediately (at least superficially) joyous poppy melodies that Forster's erstwhile partner in composition and performance, Grant McLennan, brought to the Go-Betweens are here absent.
Truthfully much of this album is so good that it doesn't need them. The opening track (also released as a single, like all of Forster's work, to major commercial indifference), "Baby Stones" tells the story, in the first person, of an about to cuckolded lover; the lyrics are crisp, witty and astute, with just a hint of a desire for (understated) revenge - or at least the assured knowledge that "Every man for the rest of your life will be less than me". And the tune is as straightforwardly poppy as Forster gets - a minor classic, in fact. Another standout track is "Is This What You Call Change", an elegant expression of regret at destruction. It is quite similar in tone to the title track, another stand-out, although here the lyrical emphasis is, apparently, of overcoming some crisis of an apparently medical nature. It's graceful, refined, elegant and touching.
The final two tracks on the album, "I've Been Looking For Somebody" and "Justice" belong together thematically, even if the tone of the two tracks is quite different: they are both tales of the happiness of having found love (the first expressing the author's past sense that this would ever be possible): the first of these tracks is, mostly, fairly uptempo (although the musical accompaniment is even more understated than elsewhere); the second bring the record to a satisfying, noctural, close. Perhaps this sense of satisfaction is one of the major factors, apart from the musical style, that makes this album (and indeed future Forster solo excursions) so different in feel from that of the Go-Betweens 1980s albums, which at times seemed to be full of songs about uncertain or decaying relationships, often set in run-down seaside towns. But now that extended adolescence (however well-informed by literary and filmic references) is past.
These five tracks stand up as being among the best that Forster has written in his (so far) 35-year musical career of frankly superior songwriting: none of the other five tracks are poor, either (and Forster still plays some of them among his live repertoire at the time of writing). And of the five solo albums that Forster had released at the time of writing, "Danger In The Past" stands out as one of the very best. Intelligent and charming pop music for adults, in short.
on 24 April 2010
This was Robert Forster's first solo album. Released in 1990 after the dissolution of the Go-Betweens, it has a great picture of Robert on the cover. It kicks off with Baby Stones, which is a dead ringer for early REM, around Reckoning direction. The song is driven along nicely by jangly guitar and piano. Forster is a great songwriter, and good guitarist but is a bit of a non-singer, his voice is something of an acquired taste. It's followed by the River People which is a kind of folky ballad, with down-by-the-river type imagery.
Leave Here Satisfied is more dramatic, with quieter verses before building up to a crescendo for the chorus before the music drops away again. It's in a minor key, which gives it a different sound from both Baby Stones and most other Go-Betweens songs. There's a great line on this one: "there was dust on the piano keys, dust on the backyard trees, dust on the doorlocks but not on me."
After a couple of songs which to my ears are a little disappointing, things improve with the title track, which is a little doomier than what had gone before. It's arranged like a Nick Cave ballad, with darkish sounding verses and then chorus which is little more than the song-title repeated a few times. But it works really well, as does second-last song I've Been Looking for Somebody. It's the classic story of the guy who never thought he could find a woman but then surprises himself by doing just that.
Overall the album is a little patchy but at least half of it is great.