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The Go-Betweens

The Go-Betweens emerged in late '70s Brisbane, Australia, when a couple of Queensland University students named Robert Forster and Grant McIennan, who shared a love for American rock and roll and a fascination with the emerging punk and New Wave scenes, met and decided to do "the Factory in Brisbane." Fortunately for us, their proclivity for music turned out to be stronger than their impulse to reproduce Warhol's decadent '60s pop Valhalla, and within a few years, they were recording together. Despite countless setbacks, including awful label problems early in their career and a high degree of lineup instability, Forster and McIennan persevered, even managing to turn the Go-Betweens into something of a modern rock radio fixture by the late '80s. In doing so, they pretty much wrote the book on quirky nonstandard pop music with their sweet, strange melodies and unconventional instrumental arrangements. While commercial success eluded them, the Go-Betweens a devoted cult audience which waited with bated breath for each new release. The group managed six great albums before their failure to connect with a mainstream audience finally caught up with them. They split amicably in 1989, shortly after their last release, the excellent 16 Lovers Lane.

Except, as it turned out, it wouldn't be their last release after all. Forster and McIennan embarked on divergent solo careers during the '90s, but remained in contact, even reuniting in 1995 to pen a film script together (Sidney Creeps). Then in 1999, while sitting in a Melbourne hotel, the duo decided to give the Go-Betweens another go. They traveled to Portland to record a new album and recruited a cast of Northwest indie luminaries, including all three members of Sleater-Kinney and Sam Coombes of Quasi. However, those artists' presence is a bit difficult to detect on the ensuing album, The Friends of Rachel Worth (featuring "The Clock"), because the sound is vintage Go-Betweens: jangly, bittersweet pop music, sometimes whimsical and sometimes sad, but always lovingly crafted and intelligently rendered. In conjunction with the Go-Betweens' new album, Jetset released a best-of collection, entitled Bellavista Terrace.