I doubt that it is any surprise that 16 Lovers Lane is my favourite Go-Betweens album. It was meant to be there breakout with a big push from the record companies. I am not sure what makes the album click, maybe it is the influence of multi-instrumentalist Amanda Brown, the addition of John Willsteed on bass and guitar, the impact of big-name producer Mark Wallis, or the natural progression of time and technology? One thing that stands out to me is the consistent sound throughout. Gone is Tallulah’s experimentation with the funk grooves or distortion, this is instead replaced with the acoustic guitar that beds much of the album. Although it is heavily produced, leading to some songs being difficult to reproduce live, it still feels more subtle and subdued than say Spring Hill Fair. All in all, I feel that you can easily listen to their previous albums with an feeling that each provided its own piece of the puzzle to allow this album.
One thing to note is that a little bit like Before Hollywood, it is interesting listening to Streets of Your Town. Although it fits with the acoustic vibe of the album, it jumps out like a familiar landmark during a long drive. Even though the lyrical content is dark:
Don’t the sun look good today,
but the rain is on its way
Watch the butcher shine his knives,
and this town is full of battered wives
In some ways it almost feels too upbeat, neither fast nor slow, almost joyful compared to the rest of the album.
For me, one of the interesting things about the album is the legacy. I grew up seeing Cattle and Cane and Streets of Your Town late at night on Rage, however I never really knew anyone who actually listened to The Go-Betweens. It was not really until their second coming that I really went beyond the singles.
That Record Got Me High podcast explore some of the connections between Bob Dylan and The Velvet Underground.
SBS Classic Albums – 16 Lovers Lane provides some useful insight and context to the album and The Go-Betweens in general.