Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Go-Betweens: Tallulah (The Expanded Edition)

I know how poorly this album is usually considered, and by the Go-Betweens too, as anyone can see by reading the Forster-McLennan interview on their whole career in the 80's @ the Go Betweens' Archive page, where Forster, talking about "Tallulah", says: "...we were sort of cursed. We had the engineer that we were using on Liberty Belle, Dicky Preston, and working with Dicky was good. We then went on to the next one and we were put into this horrible studio–..." and then "And so Dickey didn't do a good job I think on Tallulah, so it had to be rescued and remixing a little but which always sounds horrible ...". But I also completely agree with him when he says: "...Tallulah really could have been the big, dark masterpiece, and I don't know, we didn't… really…hit it. But it's good."
Yeah, that's really true, I mean, look at some of the songs in the album: there is Someone else's wife ("It's a fine line between love and despair/Do you know the times I've waited on your stair?"), The house that Jack Kerouac built ("With friends like these; you're damned as well/Keep me away from her"), Hope then strife ("Never gonna be the one /Who said you were the one /Who liked the lonesome life"), and then there's the whole (and one-of-a-kind type of song in the GoBes' canon) intense The Clarke sisters.
But yes: the production of "Tallulah" brings out the worst of the eighties' music: it's almost hard to listen to this version of Right here (when compared to the oh-so-much-better live rendition of it)... Plus there is Cut it out, possibly the worst Go-Betweens' song ever.
And that's one of the reasons why I have uploaded the bonus disc too: the demos of Right here and I just get caught out do give more justice to Forster's and McLennan's songwriting skill. Moreover the B-side When people are dead is a beautiful gem.
One more thing: this two-discs edition of "Tallulah" got out of print...why?

Tallullah (Disc 1)
Tallullah (Disc 2)


Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say that your taste in music is impeccable. Keep up the great blog!

Matthias said...


What is even better is your very intuitive and well thought out critique or discussion of this exquisite music.

I do like the songs on this record and feel they capture a great dark period particularly in Robert's songwriting.

misha said...

Thank a lot Matthias. I must say that i prov├Čbably have a thing for many "imperfect" albums (like Pink Floyd's "The final cut" for instance), plus I find some of robert's songs in it truly remarkable and I do think they stand out among the whole bunch of songs he's written in his careeer (in particular The Clarke sisters...but also I just get caught out). It may as well be because robert is usually a writer of always-think-positive songs while these ones are so dark and somehow spooky.

Anonymous said...

Tallulah, which I always fantasized was named after the fabulous actress Tallulah Bankhead, is in my opinion one of the best Go-Between records. Not only does it contain their gorgeous homage to the Mamas and the Papas (Bye Bye Pride) but contains some of Robert's best songs (the Clarke Sisters, Spirit and House!)...also Right Here has Grant's best put down ever.... "I know you're 32 but you look 55, you walk around with your eyes wide open but you're barely alive"). In Spirit of a Vampyre, Robert is drying out in a clinic outside of LA , while the imagery of dull masks of circus stars, hinduism, chugging machine parts and making jewellery swirls about. This is daring and gorgeous music! Hey St. James Park!!

Anonymous said...

great blog. sort of agree on the production of "Tallulah," but in general the
Go-Betweens weren't well served in that arena. what I don't get, though, is your assertion that Tallulah is generally not well regarded by fans or critics. Bob Christgau, surely one of the finest rock critics ever and one of the Go-Betweens' most avid and perceptive critics, ranks it as their best, and most of the serious fans I know agree. As I do, even given, yes, the gawky "Cut It Out" (which sports a nice bridge). so, have I missed something, and most Go-Betweens fans rank "Tallulah" lower than I do? (I think it's their most consistent record, altho I have come to rate their early, more punkish records "Send Me a Lullaby" and "Before Hollywood" higher than I once did, and I think "Spring Hill Fair" and "Liberty Belle" are fantastic. I would actually rate "16 Lovers" somewhat lower than many fans do, because it seems slighter than "Tallulah" even given the two or three cuts, like "Streets of Your Town" and "Love Is a Sign," that are amazing.)

misha said...

Well, as you can see by reading the link @ the go betweens' archive it was both mclennan and forster who did not like the album very much themselves. As for the critics...well,it depends on who you're reading. As for my impressions on the fan,supported by a poll on this very blog, though a very modest one, is that tallulah is generally one of the least appreciated among all their works:I remember the results were that (considering only their 80's) only "Send me" was less loved.
For that matter, BYBO and "Friends of.." were even less appreciated. But that's something I never got to comprehend (I think they are fine works and personally consider "Friends of" very underrated,by fans in particular).