The Go-Betweens – Sing Lee Remick (and Karen)

Go-Betweens – Lee Remick // Karen (Able Label) 1978. Those familiar with the later “critical-darling” phases of The Go-Betweens will be somewhat shocked to hear this early 7inch by the Brisbane based pop band and discover that they were, at their inception, a minimalist Modern Lovers type combo. Karen in particular, is a two chord opus which name-drops Bertolt Brecht, Jean Genet and James Joyce while remaining completely primitive and innocent at the same time much like the sort of thing Jonathan Richman did. The similarity is not all coincidence either, as both combos were highly influenced by the Velvet Underground as opposed to the Stooges. The rhythm section for this phase of The Go-Betweens were Lissa Ross on drums and Tim Mustapha on bass and like Mo Tucker, they keep things very simple. Over the top, Robert Forster and Grant McLennan hit basic guitar chords while rattling off their childlike lyrics about two girls they have crushes on. One of these girls is the actress Lee Remick, who I am most familiar with as the tormented mother in the original version of The Omen. It’s kind of odd hearing a love song to Lee Remick because when I came of age, she was this older lady who made lots of made-for-TV movies. I for one never thought of Lee Remick as an object of affection but Grant and Robert did. They thought she was “a darlin’” and judging by some younger photos I found of her on the web, I guess I can understand. I woulda probably wrote songs for Lynda Carter and Julie Newmar but hey, I dig chicks with super powers.

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5 Responses to The Go-Betweens – Sing Lee Remick (and Karen)

  1. Mr. Lee says:

    Never heard this one… Thanks!!!

  2. OTTO says:

    Tunes are OK… but Julie Newmar…. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  3. ian says:

    yeah – this always charmed with its rough & readyness…I like the later stuff too, but sometimes it is just too twee & 80′s sounding. Local Brisbane band The Grates did a great cover of Lee Remick on a Go Betweens tribute album in 2008 that is also a fine thing.

  4. Douglas Maxson says:

    Wow, not sure I’d ever heard this! Which is saying much, as I’m sure I was played every G-B album…my wife and I became friends with good friends of the band, to the point of spending 6 weeks in Australia visiting them–hence the full body immersion!

    The guy was the original bass player for the Plug Uglies, whose 12″ EP “Knock Me Your Lobes” was pretty great.

    Speaking of great Australian albums, everyone is probably familiar with Ed Kuepper and his various incarnations (The Saints; The Aints; Laughing Clowns; as well as various solo work). Much of this was never to my taste (my faulty taste, no doubt) but if you ever get a chance, snag his 1990 solo album “Today Wonder”–an intensely beautiful stripped down work featuring just the man and his guitar (with some unusual effects) and a cardboard box for a drum. It’s mind-blowing.

  5. Martin says:

    Hi Joe, I adore these songs, never get tired of them – I know ‘em from the Abel Label singles 12″ which had this single and ‘People Say’/ ‘Don’t let him come back’ on the flip. Truly ”Perfect Pop”. Also a big fan of the Send me a Lullaby LP too, less so with anything else I’ve heard by them. Always enjoy yer posts – good to see you’re a Flying Nun fan too!

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