Spring Hill Fair by The Go-Betweens

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Spring Hill Fair by The Go-Betweens
Spring Hill Fair by The Go-Betweens

Album Released: 1984

Spring Hill Fair ::: Artwork

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1.Bachelor Kisses3:33
2.Five Words4:05
3.The Old Way Out3:41
4.You've Never Lived3:55
5.Part Company4:53
6.Slow Slow Music3:05
7.Draining The Pool For You4:16
8.River Of Money5:10
9.Unkind And Unwise3:05
10.Man O' Sand To Girl O' Sea4:40


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.

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by Reviewer: Fyfeopedia (blogging at Fyfeopedia [Defunct])

Spring Hill Fair is a mild letdown after the previous album.

The main problem isn't so much the advance in sound from hard-edged jangle to a more mainstream-ish pop production (which is admittedly a problem, but lurching towards the pop mainstream laid the foundations for the band's future mainstream pop masterpiece 16 Lovers Lane), as the somewhat more inconsistent songwriting.

I'll discuss the good stuff first. Never before or since has a Go-Betweens album begun as masterfully as McLennan's "Bachelor Kisses", a gorgeously lush yet understated ringer for a lost late-period Roxy Music ballad, only more humbly humane and tenderly soulful than Bryan Ferry ever seemed quite capable of.

But it's Forster's "Draining the Pool for You" that lodges in the brain most securely, mostly for its lyrics, which amount to a scathing character assassination of new rich air/cokeheads from the point-of-view of a pool repairman, with its dry jagged spareness cutting in sharply.

Play those two tracks back-to-back and they represent a perfect double A-side of the McLennan/Forster aspects of the band. There's other songs too of course, including a remake of "Man O'Sand to Girl O'Sea", that's fractionally more measured / produced / less exciting than the rawer original single (but sometimes fractions are all that matters; I'll never listen to this version again while I have access to the single).

About half the songs on the original 10-track album are of the fine quality expected of The Go-Betweens, particularly the simply lovely "Part Company". "Five Words" softly stomps its leather shoes in tap-time quite well; apparently it's a co-write, which explains why McLennan and Forster are dueting.

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise (blogging at Creative Noise)