on 7 August 2002
This reissue of the Go-Betweens 1981 debut is a gem.
Send Me A Lullaby marked the Go-Betweens' departure from their Monkees/Patti Smith hybrid pop and charted their course for the string of magnificent albums that followed. They were a three-piece then and Tony Cohen's sparse production precariously balances Forster and McLennan's intricate guitar/bass interplay with Morrison's frenetic drumming and sets the contrast to their poignant evocative lyrics. Compared to later work, it feels like a raw nerve, but the songs have aged well.
Now Send Me A Lullaby has been reborn with an entire second disc of equally brilliant demos and rare singles from the period. Some are impossibly rare (Very Quick On The Eye bootleg tracks) and here they are, digitally remastered from the source tapes. Never mind that the video bonus is rough quality, it's better than never seeing it. (I only had a snippet of it before).
The sleeve looks great, the back cover in keeping with the original. Track info inside is great too.
At last, the reissue the Go-Betweens deserve.
on 24 October 2012
"Send Me A Lullaby" was the Go-Betweens first "proper" album, and later on the band effectively disowned it, with the then main songwriter Robert Forster claiming that the album's weakness resulted from a desire on his part to be constantly original, and a lack of inspiration to write any really classic tracks that he experienced at that time. This assessment is, in my view, a little harsh, but also not unfounded.
The album is quite raw and stripped-down musically, mostly just to guitar, bass, drums and vocals: with only the odd hint of the lushness that was to come on some future albums (To my mind this recalls the production style of nothing more than the first album of that very different indie band, the Happy Mondays' "24 Hour Party People Plastic Face Carn't Smile The White Out" from a few years later). And it indeed quite experimental, perhaps indeed too much so - some of the tracks are a little incoherent or even seem incomplete, while some of the tracks that do function well as songs drag a little, and there is an understated glumness in evidence on some tracks.
But still: this is not a bad album. Several tracks, not surprisingly given the Go-Betweens' interests in matters cinematic, have a filmic character, and could have worked well on a soundtrack, probably over scenes of wide open countryside in Queensland or elsewhere. "Eight Pictures" is obviously a stand-out track, an early and accomplished example of the group's storytelling ability, right from the opening couplet "I'd suspected for some time that you'd had other lovers/ but I didn't know that those men in your room weren't really your brothers", while "People Know" and "Your Turn, My Turn" are perfectly passable guitar-led pop songs, and the art of melody-making is in evidence on several more tracks, too.
The bonus disc here is a mix of demos, B-sides and rare recordings. "I Need Two Heads", a playful number that could serve (in instrumental form) as a soundtrack to a children's TV show, stands heads and shoulders above the rest of the tracks, although "After The Fireworks", with Nick Cave featuring, is also of note, while "World Weary" is quality and impressionistic.
By no means is this the Go-Betweens at the peak of their art (the album that immediately followed, "Before Hollywood" was an enormous step forward), but neither is it something that would be appreciated only by obsessive followers of the band or completists. It is far rawer and more stripped-down than any of the other albums of the first part of their career (i.e. 1978-1988) - and also far more, in the English 1980s sense "indie" too, but the lyrical and musical talents of the band, that created greater things on other occasions, are very much in presence, although perhaps at times accomplishment is thwarted by too much not entirely successful experimentation.
on 6 January 2010
Hello, I like this album a lot. It brings back some great memories of buying the vinyl album and playing it at my first real girlfriends parents house. I didn't know anything about The Go Betweens except they had a single out on Postcard records, I bought the album on a whim. I can remember the freshness of it, the space, the awkwardness but I fell in love with it along with my first proper girlfriend. This isn't easy listening, like all good art you have to work at it and give some time to it. The first two albums were truly original. Buy it (girlfriends optional).