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Friends of Rachel Worth

4.2 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 19, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

The Friends of Rachel Worth, the Go-Betweens' seventh album, arrives 12 years after the sixth. Though the interceding solo careers of songwriters Robert Forster and Grant McLennan have had their moments, all great partnerships are more than the sum of their parts, and it is to be hoped that this album encourages them to put their reunion on a permanent footing. The Friends of Rachel Worth was recorded by Forster and McLennan in Portland, Oregon, with Sleater-Kinney falling in as a backing band. All the virtues that characterized the Go-Betweens at their finest are still present: five songs each by Forster and McLennan, each one a small El Dorado of hearts and flowers. As ever, their styles are contradictory but complementary: McLennan's peerless knack for the understated, insidious melody anchors Forster's heroically overwrought posturings. In terms of the Go-Betweens' awesome back catalog, this contains the exuberant pop sense of 16 Lovers Lane, the spare and evocative arrangements of Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express, and the lyrical accomplishment of Tallulah. Ultimately, the best that can be said of The Friends of Rachel Worth is that it is worthy of being called a Go-Betweens album, and those in the know will know that praise can come no higher. --Andrew Mueller

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Magic Is Here
  2. Spirit
  3. Clock
  4. German Farmhouse
  5. He Lives My Life
  6. Heart And Home
  7. Surfing Magazines
  8. Orpheus Beach
  9. Going Blind
  10. When She Sang About Angels

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 19, 2000)
  • Original Release Date: September 19, 2000
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Jet Set Records
  • ASIN: B00004XSRY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,080 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Yes, comeback albums are a dodgy prospect at the best of times. No, neither Robert Forster nor Grant McLennan had set the world alight with their most recent solo albums. Yet, from the opening acoustic notes of Magic in Here (which instantly recalls the intimate yet strangely elusive atmosphere of their 1982 classic Before Hollywood), it's apparent that a valuable partnership has been rekindled.
In some ways, not too much has changed. Apart from the fact that this album doesn't feature the ubiquitous double-L in the title, there are 10 songs, as always split evenly between the two songwriters. Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss does a great approximation of Lindy Morrison's unique style before those 80s production teams straightened her out, reinforcing the parallels between this and the Go-Betweens early work, particularly on the edgier Forster songs like Spirit and the obviously autobiographical German Farmhouse.
In other ways, of course, this is a completely different group and, at times, there is a nagging feeling that this is in fact not quite the Go-Betweens but two solo albums grafted together. If anything is really missing, it's the beautiful melodies and additional instrumentation that Amanda Brown gave the band's last two albums, Tallulah and 16 Lover's Lane.
In this sense, this album is not a continuation from where the Go-Betweens left off, but it's very definitely a worthwhile new beginning. Most of the album is very strong, and some of the songs rank with the pair's best work. Forster's He Lives My Life is the centrepiece, a wryly beautiful study of what might have been. And Surfing Magazines is one of his funniest ever songs, his charmingly flat singing not hiding a neat and very quirky hook.
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Format: Audio CD
The problem with some of the other reviews of this album (particularly Thoutah) is that they don't acknowledge that artists who write particularly personal songs are constantly changing their personal situations and perspectives on the world, which ultimately will change the type of songs they write and albums they produce.
With regard to the Friends of Rachel Worth, I would advise anyone not to obssesively compare this album to what the Go-Betweens released in the 80s. Yes, "Streets of Your Town" deserved the NMEs rating of the best single released in the 1980s, but that honor doesn't obligate the Go-Betweens to continue to write this song over and over again. Instead, view this album as Robert Forster and Grant McLennan bringing their individual life experiences in the 90s back into the collective enterprise that is the Go-Betweens. As the circumstances of Robert's life change (wife, children etc..) he like any person is apt to reflect upon his life, what it means that a generation after him now exists, and to contrast his current life to his past. For instance, "Surfing Magazines" is a brilliant take on Robert's view of himself as an outsider to the prevailing "surfie" culture that existed in the 70s when he was growing up in Brisbane. The song both simultaneously mocks this lifestyle and the fact that he once yearned for it. If that doesn't show progress in his writing, I'm not sure what does.
Similarly, Grant is showcasing his songs in a low-fi setting-somehat similar to the production values of Robert's solo efforts.
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By A Customer on October 17, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I was a little worried about the prospect of a reunion album from Grant and Robert. I had the good luck to see the two of them live a while back and it was very much a nostalgia trip with the audience moist-eyed and adoring - but the music a little thin without the rest of the band. The CD however, is great and grows on you really quickly. 'Magic in here' is typically sweet and Grant-like. 'Heart and Home' is similarly catchy and sweet. 'Orpheus beach' is also a classic Grant song, dark to start with but opening up to a great chorus. The Robert songs are also good, particularly 'He lives my life', which is not quite 'Clouds' but almost 'Twin Layers of Lightning'. Overall there's not a bad track on the CD. The single 'Going blind' is getting a lot of airplay on 'alternative' stations in Australia meaning we have the inestimable pleasure of driving along on sunny spring days at the moment listening to the Go-Betweens on the radio - something that hasn't happened since 'Streets of your Town'. Since it's unlikely you'll hear them on your radio station (in the rest of the world), you'd better buy the CD.
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Format: Audio CD
Imagine the band Luna joining forces with early 80's R.E.M... The Friends of Rachel Worth is something that might result from a such a union. Song for song, this record is certainly one of the greatest rock/pop albums of the year 2000. I was never a fan of the band in their hey-day - mostly because I had never heard them! While driving around LA last month I heard the opening track on the radio (KCRW) and drove straight to the record store. This is the kind of music that a lucky few experienced on indy free form radio during the 1980's. R.E.M. stole the limelight but many worthy bands churned out lots of great music as well. This reunion album features the mighty Sleater-Kinney and the other half of the excellent Quasi as a backing band. Every track shines. I can't recommend this album enough. Run , don't walk.
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