There are two things that stand out for me about The Go-Betweens second album Before Hollywood. Firstly, the addition of the piano and organ to there sound. I think it is significant that the organ comes in early in the opening track A Bad Debt Follows You. This sets the tone for me for the rest of the album.
The second thing was the contrast in intensity throughout the tracks. One minute there is an urgency, then there is not. Even with this though, there is always a hook pulling you back in.
In a review from the time, Clinton Walker argues that Before Hollywood is a ‘more complete’ album.
Where Send Me a Lullaby was fragile and occasionally faltering, yet still possessed of an uplifting resonance, Before Hollywood is a more complete album. Endearing as their vulnerability was, the Go-Betweens now play with confidence and solidity, though still with an edge . . . [here] they offer ten deceptively simple pop songs that pack an emotional impact just below a skin of finely wrought and realised melody and rhythmic attack.Page 209
It was interesting listening to this album as I grew up watching Cattle and Cane on Rage late at night, but did not really know any of the other tracks. On Cattle and Cane, I love the story about how McLellan used Nick Cave’s guitar and stole it’s only tune:
The album’s centrepiece, Grant’s ‘Cattle & Cane’, was a song born of a certain homesickness/nostalgia, and written on a guitar owned by Nick Cave. ‘So that’s why I could never write anything on it,’ Nick later complained. ‘Did I steal its only tune?’ Grant apologised. ‘I’ll give you a credit next time I see my publisher.’ Page 180