Spring Hill Fair

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Spring Hill Fair
SpringHillFair.jpg
Studio album by The Go-Betweens
Released 27 September 1984
Recorded May 1984
Studio Miraval, Le Val, France
Genre Rock, alternative rock, indie rock
Length 40:24
Label Sire Records
Producer John Brand
The Go-Betweens chronology
Before Hollywood
(1983)Before Hollywood1983
Spring Hill Fair
(1984)
Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express
(1986)Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express1986
Singles from Spring Hill Fair
  1. "Part Company"
    Released: August 1984
  2. "Bachelor Kisses"
    Released: November 1984
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]

Spring Hill Fair was The Go-Betweens' third album released 27 September 1984 in the UK on Sire Records. The LP was recorded during a "very wet May"[2] at Studio Miraval in Le Val, France. Prior to the recording of the album, bass player Robert Vickers had joined the group, enabling Grant McLennan to move to lead guitar. The original release consisted of ten songs. In 2002, Circus released an expanded CD which included a second disc of ten bonus tracks and a music video for the song, "Bachelor Kisses".[3]

Details[edit]

The album was named after an annual fair in Spring Hill, Queensland, suburb of Brisbane Grammar School, Forster's high school. Some of the band had also lived there in the early eighties. McLennan said of the title, "It was generally not that we were home sick, I think we just wanted to have, after Before Hollywood, which was so obviously an American kind of thing, a regional home-town thing."[4] In another interview McLennan stated "we all lived there and the main reason was that in September, October of every year in Brisbane, there is, in Spring Hill, a fair, and as the album came out around then we thought it would be nice to have a parochial mention in a title because we hadn't done that for a long time."

McLennan and Forster later said that they were uninspired and felt the songs on their previous album had been better, with Forster saying they were more interested in, "sitting around drinking wine and eating rabbit! It definitely lacked 'the edge' of where we were before."[5] They were also unhappy with the production, despite using the same producer as on Before Hollywood. McLennan said, "John Brand, the producer, he did change between the second and third, which we did as well, but he went and made a very produced 1984 English pop record, which in a way... well, that's not what we were." Forster more bluntly claimed, "John Brand was terrible. His whole attitude was, 'Now we're making a real record.'"[6]

Recording in France was much more expensive than their earlier recordings,[4] with the Miraval studio booked for a month. Forster recalls that the band initially thought that they would set up and play in the recording studio in a similar way to how they had recorded Before Hollywood with Brand previously.[7] About half the tracks had programmed rhythm tracks, leading to conflict between Brand and drummer Lindy Morrison.[8] Morrison claimed the relationship had also soured after Brand attempted to seduce her and was rebuffed on their first day in the studio.[9] Brand spent the first week trying to gate the drums and set click tracks,[8] with the rest of the band feeling trapped.[10] Furthermore, Morrison recalled the relationships within the band were poor. "They were fucked. There were little power struggles going on all over the place. We were a neurotic mess," she said.[11] Forster indicating in hindsight that the band should have sacked Brand, however as Brand's manager had booked the studio on a deal, they felt compelled to proceed with him.[8]

Forster said of his writing, "The lyrics I wrote on this album, I wrote when I've been drinking. I wanted to speak a lot more directly and I wanted to speak about certain topics in a very straightforward way. And the best way I found of doing that was by sitting down and drinking. A conversational-type lyric. Most of the lyrics I've done on that album were started at night. I'd start drinking, smoking cigarettes, and I'd write all the lyrics in one sitting. I think it shows."[2]

Defending accusations that the album was disjointed, McLennan said, "It's an album where we talked right from the start of Loaded or a White Album, where there would be different songs on the record, and I stand by that. I deny the allegations of scrappiness."[12] In an interview in 2016 Forster takes a different view, stating "Grant was always perceived as the pop kid in the band, but he didn’t pick the pop songs. At times I would try and sway him on material, because he had a lot more than me: I would have four or five songs for each album and he would have 15 or 20. But he chose avant-garde weirdness over pop."[13]

The album features a number of guest musicians, more than any of the band's previous recordings,[14] with Ana da Silva (The Raincoats) providing additional vocals on "Bachelor Kisses",[15] Jacques Loussier (the owner of the recording studio) performing synthesizer on "Part Company",[16] Graeme Pleeth on keyboards and brass, Denis Gautier on trumpet and Marc Fontana on saxophone.

The album cover, of the band was taken at the Richmond Theatre in London, by American photographer, Sheila Rock.[10]

The first single released was "Part Company" in August 1984 but it failed to make an impact on the charts. The second single "Bachelor Kisses" was the band's first real attempt at a commercial single. Although Sire Records didn't produce a music video for "Part Company" they did for "Bachelor Kisses", which was filmed in part at Brighton. "Bachelor Kisses" was however voted in at No. 72 in Triple J's Hottest 100 for 1989.[17]

Critical reception[edit]

Clinton Walker, writing in The Age newspaper, felt "the album as a whole was disappointing, disjointed and uneven."[18] NME, however, ranked it number 11 among the "Albums of the Year" for 1984.[19]

Ned Raggett's review of the album on Allmusic states "A slightly more conventional but no less entrancing collection of songs in comparison to Before Hollywood, Spring Hill Fair contains its fair share of Go-Betweens classics, with the rough, barbed emotional edge of many lyrics getting almost gentle arrangements." and "Throughout the album one can not only hear the expanded lineup testing things out, but individual players adding their own particular flair -- the brush-and-shuffle percussion from Morrison on "Five Words," McLennan's great lead guitar solo on "You've Never Lived," Vickers' ability with crisp funk on "Slow Slow Music.""[14]

Melody Maker noted, "There's an endearing imperfection to this record, but it's a calculation of style rather than incompetence of design. In places, the vocals quaver dangerously as out-of-focus love songs paint a picture of the kind of melancholia that's impossible to forge." The songs were compared to sepia-toned photographs.[20]

Track listing[edit]

(All tracks written by Grant McLennan and Robert Forster)

No. Title Lyrics Length
1. "Bachelor Kisses" (Recorded, produced and engineered at Westside Studios, London - August 1984) Grant McLennan[21] 3:33
2. "Five Words" McLennan, Robert Forster 4:05
3. "The Old Way Out" Forster 3:41
4. "You've Never Lived" Forster 3:55
5. "Part Company" Forster 4:53
6. "Slow Slow Music" McLennan 3:05
7. "Draining the Pool for You" Forster 4:16
8. "River of Money" McLennan 5:10
9. "Unkind and Unwise" McLennan 3:05
10. "Man O'Sand to Girl O'Sea" Forster 4:41
Total length: 40:24

Release history[edit]

Date Region Label Format Catalogue
27 September 1984 UK Sire LP 925 179-1
AUS
Cassette 25179-4
March 1996 UK Beggars Banquet CD BBL 2003 CD
AUS Silk Sheen SILK 004
2002 UK Circus FYL011
US Jetset TWA48
AUS EMI Australia 3696062
2014 3760985

Credits[edit]

Personnel[edit]

The Go-Betweens
Additional musicians
  • Graeme Pleeth — keyboards, brass and string arrangements
  • Denis Gautier — trumpet
  • Marc Fontana — saxophone
  • Ana da Silva — backing vocals ("Bachelor Kisses")

Production[edit]

  • Engineer — Jacques Hermet
  • Layout — Martyn Lambert
  • Photography — Sheila Rock
  • Producer, Engineer — John Brand
  • Producer, Engineer — Colin Fairley ("Bachelor Kisses")
  • Producer — Robert Andrews ("Bachelor Kisses")

References[edit]

  1. ^ Allmusic review
  2. ^ a b "Mat Snow" (13 October 1984). "Money Can't Buy You Love". NME. London, England. 
  3. ^ Mueller, Andrew, from the liner notes for the 2002 Circus Compact Disc reissue of Spring Hill Fair. All track listing/production history/song writing credit information in this article is taken from these liner notes.
  4. ^ a b Gavin Sawford (12 April 1996). "Gazing On A Sunny Afternoon". Rave. Stones Corner, QLD: Rave Magazine Pty Ltd: 7–8. 
  5. ^ Fred Mills. "The Go-Betweens: Their Back Pages". Rock's Backpages. 
  6. ^ Clinton Walker (1996). Stranded: The Secret History of Australian Independent Music 1977–1991. Pan MacMillan. p. 164. ISBN 0-7329-0883-3. 
  7. ^ Garratt, John (26 January 2015). "Between the Stripes of That Sunlight Sound - An Interview with the Go-Betweens". PopMatters. Retrieved 18 August 2017. 
  8. ^ a b c Crane, Larry (Ed) (2010). Tape Op: The Book about Creative Music Recording, Volume 2. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 259–260. ISBN 9780977990306. 
  9. ^ David Nichols (2005). The Go-Betweens. Verse Chorus Verse. p. 155. ISBN 9781891241161. 
  10. ^ a b Forster, Grant (2017). Grant & I: Inside And Outside The Go-Betweens. Omnibus Press. ISBN 9781783239399. 
  11. ^ Clinton Walker (26 March 1986). "Stars of the Underground". Rock Australia Magazine. p. 16. 
  12. ^ David Nichols (2005). The Go-Betweens. Verse Chorus Verse. p. 157. ISBN 9781891241161. 
  13. ^ Mulvey, John (18 January 2016). "Robert Forster, Album By Album". Uncut. Retrieved 18 August 2017. 
  14. ^ a b Ragett, Ned. "The Go-Betweens : Spring Hill Fair". Allmusic. Retrieved 18 August 2017. 
  15. ^ Bell, Steve (26 September 2014). "A Look Back At The Go-Betweens' 1984 Classic 'Spring Hill Fair'". TheMusic. Retrieved 18 August 2017. 
  16. ^ "Spring Hill Fair by The Go-Betweens". All Time Records. 31 July 2007. Retrieved 18 August 2017. 
  17. ^ "Hottest 100 Of All Time -1989". Triple J. 1989. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  18. ^ Walker, Clinton (14 March 1986). "The band most likely gets a shot at the title". The Age. p. 32. 
  19. ^ "Albums and Tracks of the Year". NME. 2016. Retrieved 21 March 2018. 
  20. ^ Helen Fitzgerald. "Go-Betweens: Spring Hill Fair (Sire K925179)". Rock's Backpages. 
  21. ^ ""Bachelor Kisses" at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 23 July 2015.