Grant McLennan: RIP
Via Brad, the shocking news that Grant McLennan is dead at 48.
McLennan, with Robert Forster, led my favorite-ever Australian band, The Go-Betweens. It is famously said that when the Velvet Underground released their first record in 1967—the "banana album" produced and designed by Andy Warhol—it wasn't a big success but every person who bought it started a band. McLennan originally wanted to become a film critic, but musically fascinated by the Velvets, formed the Go-Betweens with Forster in the late 70's. Their first single was "Lee Remick."
In the early 80's they moved from Brisbane to England, arriving in the right place at the wrong time. The landscape was aglitter with colored-haired "New Romantic" synth-pop bands, and their sparse and ungimmicky guitar-based sound wasn't going to set the marketplace on fire. But they caught—and kept—a strong critical following all through the 80's, making a succession of superbly-written and tastefully-arranged records. (You don't often hear violin and oboe in rock arrangements.) They broke up at the end of the decade but then reformed in 2000.
Some nice examples of McLennan's work:
"The Statue" off Go-Betweens' Oceans Apart, one of last year's best records.
"Haven't I Been A Fool" from McLennan's solo album Watershed (1992). A good example of both his clear tenor and his trademark romanticism.
"Right Here" off Tallulah (1987), the Go-Betweens record I've played most often.
Now to return to spinning more Go-Betweens on this sunny sad spring morning.