‘L’ STANDS FOR LINER NOTES, which I’ve written, along with a few other contributors, for the lavish new GoBetweens’ box-set, ‘G’ Stands for GoBetweens, which is now open to pre-orders. Produced by Domino Records, the label owned by the Arctic Monkeys which already has some form in fine Australian reissues, having recently got a few of the Triffids’ great albums back out there, ‘G’ Stands for GoBetweens is an anthology of the band’s first five years, bringing together its first three albums, on vinyl, along with an album of its first five singles, plus four bonus CDs of rarities and lots of other bits and bobs. See the Domino page on the set HERE
Funnily, I don’t find it easy writing things like this, by which I mean things in which I was deeply embedded a very long time ago. But when Robert Forster asked me if I’d accept this very particular commission – to write a few words on the first five singles, the ten tracks collected on vinyl LP here for the first time – I couldn’t resist since the symmetry was so perfect: five singles in five years, a single a year between 1978 and 1982, that even when I listen back to them now with all my jadedness, still sound fresh; that still make up, I reckon, a discographical arc that is as impressive if not moreso than that of any other contemporaneous post-punk band.
The first 600 pre-orders of the set will receive, as a special bonus gift, a book from the library of the late Grant McLennan. When I first heard about this I thought it was a great idea, a wonderful way to sort of spread the wealth rather than pack it up and forget it, or just sell it off. Fans of the band will know, Grant was a bibliophile, and this was a big part of him that made a big part of the band, and it was also something that he and I shared. He was precious with his books; I remember, when he was on the road, the first thing he’d do in any town was seek out the bookshops, and then when he got back to his hotel room with his haul, he’d have them stacked neatly on the nightstand with his name and the date already inscribed in each (indeed, as I remember Robert once said somewhere, he was a neat-freak). He was leery about lending his books, lest something happen to them, but he was okay with me borrowing them because he knew I’d look after them. And so naturally in my own library I still have a number of books with Grant's mark on their flyleaf. Reproduced here is one I’ll always treasure, a first edition of Elmore Leonard’s City Primeval. Grant gave it to me; he could be sniffy about genre fiction, as he could be about a lot of things. For instance, I never knew him to read non-fiction, unless it was literary or film criticism. But that was okay, because I wasn’t very interested in the poetry he loved; Robert seemed to exist on nothing but Hollywood biographies! But still the inveterate bibliophile in Grant couldn’t leave such a lovely first on the shelf, and so he picked up this copy of City Primeval and eventually gave it to me because in the 80s, I was getting increasingly into crime fiction; later, he had to concede what an awesome stylist he thought the then-still emerging James Ellroy was. Now, City Primeval nestles on my bookshelf alongside other spines where ‘L’ stands for Lardner, Loos, London, Lambert, Lansdale and Lehane…