The Go-Betweens: Right Here
R0 - Australia - Umbrella Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (28th January 2018).
The Film

"The Go-Betweens: Right Here" (2017)

When naming influential Australian music groups, The Go-Betweens always ranks high among music aficionados. While the band was active from 1977 to 1989, and a reformation from 2000 to 2006 with nine full length albums in their discography, the band not only made an impact on the music scene in their home country but also in America and the United Kingdom. With the highly regarded acclaim it may be surprising that the band never had a Top 40 hit in Australia and minimal chart success abroad. They were never chart toppers and were not fated to be. Instead they were a band that lived on the outer edges, finding a respectable audience and high acclaim by making music that was different from their counterparts and in their own particular direction.

The initial duo of Robert Forster and Grant McLennan first met in the University of Queensland in the late 1970s, where the pair's shared love of films, literature, and art transcended into music. While Forster was the musical type, it took some convincing to form a band with McLennan, as McLennan could not play an instrument. With some practice and a few years of getting kicked around from gig to gig, the band was able to press a few independent singles as well as expand by adding drummer Lindy Morrison, Robert Vickers on bass guitar, Amanda Brown on violin and other instruments, plus a few others that came and went in a revolving door fashion. Soundwise the band based their style under quite a lot of genres - folk music, punk rock, new wave. Like a mix of early R.E.M., Joy Division, and The Chills, their sound was easily accessible. It was not loud and brash, not complex or dark. Melodically they were on the pop side and they hit their marks perfectly with songs such as "Cattle and Cane" (1983), "Bachelor Kisses" (1984), "Spring Rain" (1986), and "Streets of Your Town" (1988) plus many more. But what did not work for the band and what eluded commercial success?

As the documentary "The Go-Betweens: Right Here" shows, the band was not the most stable with inner turmoil from members. While the band expanded from a two piece to a three-piece in 1980 with Morrison officially on drums, she was not the first to join the band as they had a constant rotation of drummers or other instrumentalists for their first three years. People came and went, there were arguments and questions about the roles of each of the members, and even romantic relationships starting and ending in the process. But with all the drama involved, great music should be able to sell itself. And even with distribution from respected sources such as Rough Trade, Beggars Banquet, Sire, and Capitol Records over the years, the band was always caught in the middle of label issues where they were not pushed as successfully as their labelmates. To say they never had any hits is a misconception, as their 1988 single "Was There Anything I Could Do?" hit #16 on the US modern rock charts, and a few of their singles and albums hit the UK indie charts.

The documentary film directed by Kriv Stenders who directed a few music videos for The Go-Betweens was able to get the stories from the source. There are many interview sessions with the various surviving members of the band telling all the details that are personal and sometimes hurtful. In addition to the many former band members telling their thoughts and memories of the band and the history, there are also interviews with critic Clinton Walker, former manager Bob Johnson, former Birthday Party/Bad Seeds member Mick Harvey, and many more from an outer perspective. The film is able to give a lot of information on the band and its history but there are still a lot of unanswered questions due to the short running time. The very early years seemed to breeze through too quickly, there was very limited information on the 1990s when the band had split for example. But overall "The Go-Betweens: Right Here" captures a mark of music history that was a minor blip on most people's radars but a fascinating insight for fans and people who love music in general. The band's sound is quite 80s from a retrospective standpoint but doesn't quite fit in a specific genre in the 80s, with their own sound and vision leading toward nowhere in particular. Generations of music fans may not be too familiar with the band and the documentary is an excellent starting point for newcomers as well. While the death of Grant McLennan in 2006 put the band to an untimely end, The Go-Betweens still live on with the records they have left behind.

Note this is a region 0 NTSC encoded DVD which can be played back on any DVD and Blu-ray

Video

Umbrella Entertainment presents the film in 2.35:1 with anamorphic enhancement in the NTSC format. It is unusual for a documentary to be framed in the cinemascope ratio, and the frame sometimes seems crowded on the top and bottom with some heads looking slightly cut off and the sides of the wide frame being underused. Most of the interviews are one on one rather than a roundtable so the wide aspect ratio is a strange choice. Made up of new interviews, vintage footage, re-enactments, and rare photos, the new portions look very good with very nice colors and depth. As for the re-enactments, there is a lot with focus issues looking intentionally blurry in portions as if watching and remembering a dream. The vintage music videos and some footage has its issues of tape error, scratched film footage, uneven colors, and others, though for the most part the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 is usually kept in a windowboxed format. Overall it is a fairly good transfer with little to complain about.

The feature's runtime is 98:16.



















Audio

English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo

The audio is presented in both 5.1 and 2.0 stereo. The 5.1 track brings the music of The Go-Betweens to full effect, with the left and right channels giving full separation and the surround channels mostly for ambiance. It seems more of a safe 5.1 mix rather than a discreed 5.1 channel mix. Voices from the interview moments come almost always from the center channel and is equally balanced with the music, with no issues of audio dropouts or other errors.

There are no subtitles for the film.

Extras

Additional Scenes and Interviews (48:29)
Interviews and scenes fully edited are presented here in a continuous reel divided from year to year. There are comments on the identity of "Karen" from their second single, more on the troubles with moving to the UK and back to Australia, the troubles they faced on tour, their 1988 success in America, and some info on their reformation. The video is fair, but the audio is a bit unbalanced and not mixed well, with some of the audio falling toward the left side more than the center.
in anamorphic 2.35:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

It would have been nice to hear thoughts from the director of the film whether in an interview or a commentary, but that is not to be found on the disc. And neither is the trailer, which is presented here courtesy of Umbrella Entertainment:



And for added pleasure here (and again not on the disc) is the music video for "Streets of Your Own" (1988) courtesy of director Kriv Stenders' YouTube channel:

Overall

"The Go-Betweens: Right Here" gives a fairly definitive look at the history of one of the most influential indie bands to ever come from Australia, though there are some reservations. Umbrella Entertainment gives the film a good transfer and audio, with a nice selection of additional interviews making this a recommended release.

The Film: B+ Video: A- Audio: A- Extras: C+ Overall: B

 


DVD Compare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, and amazon.de.