Robert Forster and Grant McLennan: Intermission: The Best Of The Solo Recordings 1990-1997
Choosing between Robert Forster and Grant McLennan as your favorite Go-Betweens songwriter has always felt less silly than plain unnecessary. It's not that there aren't distinctions: Distinctions made their dynamic what it was, one of the most unique and rewarding in rock. But it was the conversational dynamic between their individual styles--Forster's tart, dry, hawklike; McLennan's ripe, lissome, curvy--that made the Go-Betweens' magic, and if anything, it was only getting better. Impossibly, their best album may be the third one after their 2000 reunion, 2005's Oceans Apart, which was followed, suddenly and horribly, by McLennan's unexpected death in his sleep last May.
So this dual best-of, covering the period between the Go-Betweens' breakup and reunion and the works before McLennan's passing, feels a little odd in that each of its two discs is devoted to one man alone. That's probably appropriate--they did work apart during that time, after all--but it's hard for a fan not to wish they'd shuffled the deck anyway. Forster's disc, despite being full of good songs, requires some acclimation to take in full; McLennan's half is the easier listen, but it's easy to imagine his partner's hand toning things up. (It's also hard, in this context, not to hear a line from McLennan's "Surround Me" in a way he probably didn't intend: "I thought you were my twin/ You were my double.") Still, the songs make up for the sequencing, and as missed opportunities go, it beats the fact that we'll never get another real Go-Betweens album.