Go-Between, Robert Forster is back with his fifth solo album, though not by choice. He and Grant McLennan were working on the follow up to the Go-Between’s Oceans Apart when McLennan suddenly and shockingly died in his sleep. I still remember the last time I saw the Go-Betweens, they were touring for Ocean’s Apart and stopped in Seattle for a beautiful show at the Triple Door. They were both so alive with their band, Grant and Robert on guitar, Adele Pickvance on bass and Glenn Thompson on drums. They sounded so good. Mixing new songs with the old just made me buzz with anticipation of what these guys were still capable of next. It is so rare for a band that gets back together after breaking up ever getting close to past glories. Well I would argue that the Go-betweens met them and surpassed a lot of those old glories.
Thankfully Robert Forster has seen fit to carry on without his other half, because it sounded like he wasn’t sure he was going to carry on with music. His doubts were allayed when apparently the record just came together over the summer, it sounds like it was kind of a meant to be thing. It’s called The Evangelist and contains three song he wrote with the late McLennan. He also has his former Go-betweens Pickvance and Thompson back as his rhythm section and he’s even employed Mark Wallis and Dave Ruffy (who produced Oceans Apart), for production duties. The record itself is not a far cry from Oceans Apart. It starts out with some organ leading into a surfy guitar riff that makes you feel like you’re on the beach at sunset. I thought Forster wrote some of the best songs on Oceans Apart, he seemed to have hit a vein of gold in his writing. The new album shows he’s still mining that vein, even incorporating some country influence that was so prevalent on his his early solo albums. There are also some beautiful string arrangements courtesy of Audrey Riley as well as lovely female backing vocals evident in the haunting last song From Ghost Town. This is indeed a Robert Forster solo record and easily rivals Calling from a Country Phone (my favorite of his solo records), but the ghost of his songwriting partner emanates throughout it, in the lyrics, the guitar and just how when you hear a Forster song, you expect to hear a McLennan on right after. I for one am grateful that he decided to carry on without his friend and give us this ‘solo’ album.
A few more from Forster’s other solo albums:
mp3: Robert Forster – Dear Black Dream (from Danger in the Past)
mp3: Robert Forster – The Circle ( from Calling from a Country Phone)
mp3: Robert Forster – 2541 (from I Had a New York Girlfriend) a Grant Hart cover