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I Had a New York Girlfriend

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Album Review

Forster's entry in the line of albums consisting of covers by other artists, along the lines of David Bowie's Pin-Ups, makes for an interesting and at times defiantly anti-hip visit through a surprising, entertaining selection of songs. The lineup of the backing band varies from track to track, but a variety of old friends sit in, the one constant being Nick Cave regular Conway Savage on keyboards, with fellow Bad Seed Mick Harvey appearing on almost everything himself. Other fellow Aussie friends and musical fellow travelers — Dirty Three's Warren Ellis, the Blackeyed Susans' Rob Snarski, and more — pop up here and there as well, lending the album a feeling of a casual, fun get-together. Nothing's sloppy about the performances, though. Forster's country & western jones is again clear, and everyone turns in at least competent and at best really noteworthy turns, whether it's Graham Lee's pedal steel on Guy Clark's "Broken Hearted People" or Charlie Owen's dobro on the Bill Anderson-penned "3 AM." Forster himself salutes a range of worthy folks in his selection of remakes — choosing names like Bob Dylan and Mickey Newbury might almost seem too obvious, but Forster and company do them proud. Some of the song choices are really inspired, selecting some unexpected contemporaries of Forster to pay tribute to. New wave icons Martha and the Muffins get the nod with a brisk, quietly passionate take on "Echo Beach," Ellis adding some sharp violin to the proceedings, while a take on Husker Du drummer Grant Hart's solo debut single, "2541," makes for another gently energetic highlight. The real surprise — and almost as a result, the album's top winner — is the piano/vocal-only take on "Alone," Heart's AOR mid-'80s power ballad hit, turned into a effective, stripped-down meditation on romantic solitude.


Born: 29 June 1957 in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Although commonly considered to be the darker, artier half of the creative force of the Go-Betweens -- John Lennon to Grant McLennan's Paul McCartney, as it were -- Robert Forster has always had a knack for crafty pop songs along with the brooding ballads he contributed to the Go-Betweens' albums, and his solo career has shown a healthy mix of the two styles. Forster, a native of Brisbane, Australia, formed the Go-Betweens with McLennan at Queensland University in 1978. The duo kept the band going...
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I Had a New York Girlfriend, Robert Forster
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