THE GO-BETWEENS – LIBERTY BELL AND THE BLACK DIAMOND EXPRESS
Released March, 1986 – 30 years ago
The Go-Between’s fourth studio release combines jangly indie-pop, post-punk sensibility, and excellent songwriting. Jam-packed with wistful melodies and shimmering guitar riffs, melancholy never sounded so good. Considered one of this indie-underground band’s greatest, it gets better and better with each listen.
The Classic Pick is a weekly feature at 4pm M-F on The Home Stretch, sponsored by the Good Oak Bar and curated by Kris Kerry. Each Monday at 4pm Kris stops by KXCI’s studio to give us insight on this classic album at 91.3FM and kxci.org.
The Go-Betweens formed in Brisbane, Australia, in 1977 at Queensland University by singer-songwriters Robert Forsterand and Grant McLennan, who had been friends since their teens. The two had been heavily influenced by Bob Dylan, Credence Clearwater Revival, and later the late 70s Aussie punk band The Saints. They were soon joined by drummer, Lindy Morrison, Robert Vickers on bass, and Amanda Brown on violin, oboe, guitar, and backing vocals.
The band moved to England in 1979 and soon signed a record deal with Beggars Banquet, with whom the released six albums.
The Go-Betweens disbanded in 1989, but reformed again in 2000 with a new line-up, but then again called it quits when McLennan died of a heart attack in 2006. He was only 50 years old.
Liberty Belle and The Black Diamond Express was released prior to their 1988 breakthrough album, 16 Lovers Lane. It didn’t enjoy a ton of commercial success, but is generally considered one of their best releases, garnering quite a bit of praise from critics over the years.
The album was recorded at Berry Street Studios in London. A small, but well-known studio, it was also used by Radiohead, Queen, Billy Bragg, Barry White, and The Slits, among others.
Production credit goes to The Go-Betweens, with engineering credit to Richard Preston. Preston also worked with The Cult, The Mekons, and Maxi Priest.
The label had pressured them to use drum machines and synthesizers to “more fit in with radio demands” of the new wave movement. However, the band chose to use more traditional instrumentation, which lends to a less dated sound than many albums coming out in the mid 1980s.
The Go-Betweens are one of those acts that have been more influential artistically than commercially successful. They have been cited by several acts as key influences. These include: Belle & Sebastian, Teenage Fanclub, Nada Surf and Courtney Barnett.
The band’s name was taken from L.P. Hartley’s novel, The Go-Between.
A four lane bridge in the band’s hometown of Brisbane, Australia, was named as Go-Between Bridge in 2009.