Spring Hill Fair
was recorded in jazz keyboardist Jacques Loussier's Cannes studio (Loussier contributed a weird synth part that makes Forster's "Part Company").
Bassist Robert Vickers joined The Go-Betweens with this album, making them a four piece, and - while more conventional than McLennan - Vickers proves to be a strong musician, adding a more funky bottom-end to the band's sound.
So with McLennan moving to guitar, the band sound much fuller than before. What's more, Forster's material is more conventional, forgoing jerky New Wave in favour of more conventional pop, although his material is still more fractured than McLennan's.
So conceivably, Spring Hill Fair
could've been the album where The Go-Betweens crossed over to the mainstream, spear-headed by the transcendent opener "Bachelor Kisses". They didn't however, never progressing much beyond an enthusiastic cult following, though it's difficult to see why, beyond Forster and McLennan's rather plain singing voices.
The widened sound palette allows the group to try more things, for both better and worse, making Spring Hill Fair
far more diverse than the low-key Before Hollywood
. Most notably, "River of Money" features a spoken McLennan vocal over a backdrop of repetitive bassline and loud guitars, and although he has enough literary talent to pull off the dialogue (It is neither fair nor reasonable to expect sadness to confine itself to its causes
), it's still one of the weaker pieces on the album.
Elsewhere though, McLennan's material is ultra-melodic and accessible ... as well as the acknowledged genius of "Bachelor Kisses", the more overlooked "Unkind and Unwise" is an almost hymn-like childhood reminiscence, a sequel to "Cattle and Cane". McLennan also contributes "Slow Slow Music", which is unusually funky and hard-edged by his standards, but still effective.
by Reviewer: Fyfeopedia
(blogging at Fyfeopedia [Defunct]