Hammer the Hammer

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"Hammer the Hammer"
Hammer the Hammer single cover.jpg
Single by The Go-Betweens
A-side "Hammer the Hammer"
B-side "By Chance"
Released June 1982
Format 7" vinyl
Recorded January 1982
A.A.V. Studios, Melbourne
Length 2:50
Label Rough Trade
Songwriter(s) Grant McLennan[1]
Producer(s) Tony Cohen
The Go-Betweens singles chronology
"You Turn, My Turn"
"Hammer the Hammer"
"Cattle and Cane"

"You Turn, My Turn"
"Hammer the Hammer"
"Cattle and Cane"

"Hammer the Hammer" was released as a stand-alone single by Australian indie group The Go-Betweens. It was released as a 7" vinyl record on the Missing Link Records label in Australia in June 1982[2][3] and by Rough Trade Records in the United Kingdom in July,[4][5] with "By Chance" as the B-side. Forster considered that "By Chance" was a personal break-through for him.[2] Pitchfork Media describes "By Chance" as sounding "more than a bit like the early Smiths.[6]


According to music journalist Clinton Walker "Hammer the Hammer" was about McLennan's growing taste for narcotics encouraged by a proximity to the Birthday Party.[7] McLennan however denied that the song was about drugs and in the liner notes for the band's compilation album, 1978-1990, he describes it as being "an incomplete meditation on loneliness and violence, sometimes mistakenly thought to be about drugs".[8]

Forster described the song as, "Grant's first great pop tune. An urgent, melodic verse, a foot to the floor chorus - its lyric just the repeated title. Perfect. From his earliest songs I found his lyrics surprisingly oblique and melancholic."[9]

The band recorded the two songs at Armstrong's Audio Visual (A.A.V.) Studios in Melbourne, at the same time as The Birthday Party was recording Junkyard.[10] It was during these sessions that the two groups decided to collaborate on a song. The result, "After the Fireworks", was a Forster/McLennan joint composition with the lyrics by Nick Cave. It was subsequently released by on Au Go Go Records (ANDA-22) under the name Tuff Monks.[10][11]


Reviewed in NME at the time of release, it was described as, "Miscreant pop music attempting to disgrace its fealty to any number of sources. It seems to stumble when a stride is called for and winds up notating needless obscurities. Vacancy trussed up as abstraction is not the stuff of success, in any sense."[12]

The Guardian describes the song as an "odd, punkish sort of folk rock, deceptively primitive and sometimes rattlingly suggestive of the Velvet Underground."[13]

Track listing[edit]

Original 7" Vinyl release[edit]

1."Hammer the Hammer"G. McLennan[1]2:50
2."By Chance"R. Forster[14]2:30

Release history[edit]

Date Region Label Format Catalogue
June 1982 Australia Missing Link 7" vinyl MISS 33[15]
July 1982 United Kingdom Rough Trade RT 108[15]


The Go-Betweens
  • Producer, Engineer — Tony Cohen
  • Producer — The Go-Betweens


  1. ^ a b "'Hammer the Hammer' at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 4 August 2015. Note: User may have to click on 'Search again' and provide details at 'Enter a title:', e.g. Hammer the Hammer; or at 'Performer:' The Go-Betweens.
  2. ^ a b "The Go-Betweens : Hammer The Hammer". Go-Betweens.org.uk. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  3. ^ Walker, Clinton (1984). The Next Thing. Kangaroo Press. p. 38. ISBN 9780949924810.
  4. ^ Stafford, Andrew (2006). Pig City: From the Saints to Savage Garden. University of Queensland Press. p. 145. ISBN 9780702235610.
  5. ^ Young, Rob (2006). Rough Trade. Black Dog Publishing. p. 169. ISBN 9781904772477.
  6. ^ Wolk, Douglas (22 January 2015). "G Stands for Go-Betweens". Pitchfork. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  7. ^ "'L' Stands For Liner Notes". Clinton Walker. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  8. ^ McLennan, Grant. "Liner Notes : 1978-1990". Beggars Banquet Records. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  9. ^ Robert Forster (2016). Grant & I. Penguin. pp. 100–101. ISBN 978-0-6700782-2-6.
  10. ^ a b David, Nichols (2003). The Go-Betweens. Portland, OR: Verse Chorus Press. ISBN 1-891241-16-8. Note: [online] version has limited functionality.
  11. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2004). The Great Rock Discography (7th ed.). New York: Canongate U.S. p. 262. ISBN 1-84195-615-5.
  12. ^ Richard Cook (3 July 1982). "Hammer The Hammer (Rough Trade)". NME.
  13. ^ Peschek, David (29 June 2004). "The Go-Betweens". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  14. ^ "'By Chance' at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 4 August 2015. Note: User may have to click on 'Search again' and provide details at 'Enter a title:', e.g. By Chance; or at 'Performer:' The Go-Betweens.
  15. ^ a b "Go-Betweens - Hammer the Hammer". Discogs. Retrieved 4 August 2015.

External links[edit]