16 Lovers Lane

16 Lovers Lane is the sixth album by Australian indie rock group The Go-Betweens, released in 1988 by Beggars Banquet Records. Prior to the recording of the album, longtime bassist Robert Vickers left the band when the other group members decided to return to Australia after having spent several years in London, England; he was replaced by John Willsteed. The album was recorded at Studios 301 in Sydney, between Christmas 1987 and Autumn 1988.

16 Lovers Lane
Studio album by
ReleasedAugust 1988
RecordedMay 1988
LabelMushroom (AUS), Beggars Banquet (UK)
ProducerMark Wallis
The Go-Betweens chronology
16 Lovers Lane
The Friends of Rachel Worth
Singles from 16 Lovers Lane
  1. "Streets of Your Town"
    Released: July 1988
  2. "Was There Anything I Could Do?"
    Released: October 1988
  3. "Love Goes On"
    Released: 1989

16 Lovers Lane was the final release from the original version of the band. The Go-Betweens broke up in 1989 and would produce no other material until Grant McLennan and Robert Forster reformed the band, with a completely different line-up of personnel, in 2000.


In late 1987, the band relocated from the UK to Sydney. The relationship between guitarist Robert Forster and drummer Lindy Morrison had ended, whilst singer Grant McLennan and violinist Amanda Brown became more involved. Upon their return to Australia, the band added John Willsteed on bass and began preparing their sixth album.

The recording process for 16 Lovers Lane was different to previous releases. Between December 1987 and January 1988, McLennan and Forster began an intense songwriting process. They demoed all the songs in advance and then presented them to the producer and their bandmates, leaving less room for improvisation. McLennan stated: "We really sat down for the first time in years and wrote together in the sense that anything new we'd come up with the night before we'd go through and rearrange and discard or put it into something else. Our normal method was to write separately and the spend two weeks together, familiarising ourselves with each others songs and suggesting things. So this way was a completely different process and it was due to trying to get back to what started the band - closeness."[1]

McLennan said the band was also affected by moving back to Australia. "We'd spent five years in London—blackness, darkness, greyness and poverty—and suddenly for some reason we seemed to have more money in Sydney, and we all had places to live and being in a city where after five years we can go to the beach in ten minutes."[2] Forster agreed saying it brought on "a burst of energy, a burst of songs".[1]

McLennan said, "I had a vision for this record. It was, in some way, just sitting down with acoustic guitars in sunlight, writing songs, and then making a record. It was as simple as that. And I get that vibe from the record, a summer feeling".[3] Forster described the album as, "the perfect combination between London melancholy and Sydney sunshine".[2]

The songwriting duo demoed sixteen tunes acoustically and sent them to English producer, Mark Wallis, prior to his arrival in Australia. The book, 100 Best Australian Albums, states that Wallis' production maintained the acoustic feel, embellishing them sparingly and "affording them a sparkle and crispness that suggested the summer that was their inspiration".[1] Drummer Lindy Morrison was said to have "hated" Wallis, which may be a reflection of the fact that Wallis replaced Morrison with a drum machine on five of the songs on the album.[4] Both Morrison and Brown were unhappy with the pre-production process, which limited their contribution, but Forster defended it, saying: "The pre-production to every album can't always been the same. You can't keep doing the same things over and over".[5] Still, in a documentary about the album, Wallis says that the drumming on all of the tracks are a mix of programmed and real drums, and Morrison – not available all the time for family reasons – says that you can tell that the machine beats are still hers from the fact that "everything is so "simple".[6]

"Unbelievably brilliant, I think the whole album was incredible. Normally if you have an album with two singers and two writers, there's always one that you like better. Not in the case of The Go-Betweens, two equally talented guys, just like Lennon and McCartney."

Steve Kilbey[7]

Elsewhere, Forster blamed others for the synthetic nature of the recordings. He said: "I wanted to make the kind of record I ended up making on Danger in the Past. I just wanted the band to be playing live, get us into a really big studio. Instead, it was one person in the studio with the rest of them playing pool. Lindy would be talking about drum machines, and her and Amanda were talking about triggering the violin to make synthesizer keyboard sounds. The only two live tracks on that album are both my songs, and I insisted on those."[8] In 2016, Forster wrote, "I had trouble with 16 Lovers Lane for a long time. It wasn't until the late nineties that I recognised it for what it was - a pop record".[9]

The original release of the album contained ten songs. Most of McLennan's lyrics were written about Amanda Brown.[10]

In 2004, LO-MAX Records issued a greatly expanded CD, which included a second disc of ten bonus tracks, and music videos for the songs "Streets of Your Town" (two versions) and "Was There Anything I Could Do?", which were filmed to promote 16 Lovers Lane at the time of its initial release.


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [11]
Blender     [12]
The Buffalo News    [13]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [14]
Mojo     [15]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [17]
Uncut     [19]
The Village VoiceA−[20]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [21]

In October 2010, 16 Lovers Lane was listed at No. 12 in the book, 100 Best Australian Albums.[22] The authors describe the album as being "the band's high-water mark and Forster and McLennan knew they'd nailed it" and that the songs were "their most direct, accessible and heartfelt ever", with "Forster, particularly, having learnt a new restraint. Gone was the bravado and archness that had informed much of his earlier work and in its place was an openness and honesty."[1]

Reviewing the album in Spin, Evelyn McDonnell said the Go-Betweens reminded her of, "whooping cranes: great gangling creatures capable of heights of gracefulness when in flight and passionate spasms when in heat. Similarly, the Go-Betweens infuse portentious poetry into giddy pop structures, then throw the uncertain songs in the air, whispering 'Fly or fuck.'" While praising the album, McDonnell blamed most of the album's occasional "putrid moments" on producer Mark Wallis.[23]

The album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[24]

Track listingEdit

All tracks are written by Grant McLennan and Robert Forster.

Original 1988 release
1."Love Goes On"3:19
2."Quiet Heart"5:20
3."Love Is a Sign"4:12
4."You Can't Say No Forever"3:57
5."The Devil's Eye"2:05
6."Streets of Your Town"3:36
8."Was There Anything I Could Do?"3:06
9."I'm All Right"3:10
10."Dive for Your Memory"4:17
11."Streets of Your Town" (Australian video on 2004 expanded CD) 
12."Streets of Your Town" (US/UK video on 2004 expanded CD) 
13."Was There Anything I Could Do?" (video on 2004 expanded CD) 
2004 CD Cover of 16 Lovers Lane

All tracks are written by G. McLennan, R. Forster, except where noted.

2004 bonus disc
1."Love Goes On" (single version  – re-mixed by Tom Visconti at Good Earth Studios, London in May 1988)3:18
2."Wait Until June" (recorded at Electric Avenue Studios Sydney in 1988)3:03
3."Mexican Postcard" (recorded at Bloomsbury London in August 1988)2:13
4."Rock and Roll Friend" (recorded at Bloomsbury London in August 1988)3:34
5."Casanova's Last Words" (recorded at Electric Avenue Studios Sydney in 1988)2:38
6."You Won't Find It Again" (recorded at Trackdown Studios, Sydney on 14 January 1988)3:21
7."Running the Risk of Losing You" (live  – recorded at Max's Petersham Inn, Sydney on 15 December 1989)3:06
8."Apples in Bed" (recorded at Damian Gerrard Studios, Ultimo in April 1988)2:37
9."Head Over Heels" (recorded at Damian Gerrard Studios, Ultimo in April 1988)2:27
10."You're a Big Girl Now" (Bob Dylan  – recorded at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, California on 11 November 1988)3:41

Release historyEdit

Region Date Label Format Catalogue
Australia August 1988 Mushroom LP L38950
CD D38950
United Kingdom Beggars Banquet LP BEGA 95
Cassette BEGC 95
United States 1988 Capitol CDP 7 91230 2
Germany Rebel Rec. SPV 85-2875
United Kingdom 1996 Beggars Banquet BBL 2006 CD
Australia Silk Sheen SILK 007
Europe Labels 724384173029
United Kingdom 2004 LO-MAX LO-MAX CD004
Australia EMI Australia 0946 3 69600 2 9
United States Jetset TWA72CD


The Go-BetweensEdit

Additional musiciansEdit


  1. ^ a b c d O'Donnell, John; Creswell, Toby; Mathieson, Craig (2010). 100 Best Australian Albums. Prahran, Vic: Hardie Grant Books. p. 60. ISBN 978-1-74066-955-9.
  2. ^ a b Gavin Sawford (12 April 1996). "Gazing on a Sunny Afternoon". Rave. Stones Corner, QLD: Rave Magazine Pty Ltd: 7–8.
  3. ^ Dave Dimartino (14 January 1989). "Critics' Faves Seek Commercial Hit With 1st Capitol Album". Billboard. New York City.
  4. ^ The Mojo Collection: 4th Edition. Canongate Books. 2007. p. 530. ISBN 978-1-84767-643-6.
  5. ^ David Burchill (2010). Sean Sennett and Simon Groth (ed.). Off The Record:25 Years of Music Street Press. St. Lucia, Queensland: University of Queensland Press. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-7022-3863-5.
  6. ^ Great Australian Albums / 16 Lovers Lane - The Go-Betweens, retrieved 5 April 2021
  7. ^ Steve Kilbey (16 June 2014). "Steve Kilbey Picks Five Great Australian Albums". Double J. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  8. ^ Clinton Walker (1996). Stranded: The Secret History of Australian Independent Music 1977–1991. Pan MacMillan. p. 230. ISBN 0-7329-0883-3.
  9. ^ Robert Forster (2016). Grant & I. Penguin. p. 194. ISBN 978-0-670-07822-6.
  10. ^ "The Go-Betweens (16 Lovers Lane)". Great Australian Albums. Season 2. Episode 1. 6 September 2008.
  11. ^ Jurek, Thom. "16 Lovers Lane – The Go-Betweens". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  12. ^ Lim, Dennis. "The Go-Betweens: (various reissues)". Blender. Archived from the original on 5 April 2005. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  13. ^ Miers, Jeff (5 December 2004). "The Go-Betweens, '16 Lovers Lane,' expanded edition (Jetset)". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on 29 March 2017. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  14. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  15. ^ "The Go-Betweens: 16 Lovers Lane". Mojo (131): 122. October 2004.
  16. ^ "The Go-Betweens: 16 Lovers Lane". NME: 47. 13 April 1996.
  17. ^ Wolk, Douglas (2004). "The Go-Betweens". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 333–34. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  18. ^ Male, Andrew (May 1996). "The Go-Betweens: Send Me a Lullaby / Before Hollywood / Spring Hill Fair / Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express / Tallulah / 16 Lovers Lane". Select (71): 102.
  19. ^ "The Go-Betweens: 16 Lovers Lane". Uncut (86): 120. July 2004.
  20. ^ Christgau, Robert (24 January 1989). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  21. ^ Considine, J.D. (1992). "The Go-Betweens". In DeCurtis, Anthony; Henke, James; George-Warren, Holly (eds.). [The Rolling Stone Album Guide] (3rd ed.). Random House. pp. 284–85. ISBN 0-679-73729-4.
  22. ^ O'Donnell, John; Creswell, Toby; Mathieson, Craig (October 2010). 100 Best Australian Albums. Prahran, Vic: Hardie Grant Books. ISBN 978-1-74066-955-9.
  23. ^ Evelyn McDonnell (1989). "Spins". Spin. New York: 71–72.
  24. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (23 March 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2.