Robert Forster

Robert Forster is a singer-songwriter and co-founder of The Go-Betweens. His collection of music criticism, The 10 Rules of Rock and Roll, was published in 2009.

Articles by this author

Did a ’70s soft-rock group predict the future of music?
The perfect name
On my 57th birthday in June last year, I had a revelation that on appearance had nothing to do with age or celebration. It could be regarded as frivolous, not a weighty thought,...
Marc Hunter
Australia has produced only six true rock stars
What’s the difference between a rock star and a pop star?
April 1981. The Brisbane-based band The Go-Betweens, with whom I am a vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, are in Sydney to record a single. We are staying with friends in...
Ellen Willis c. 1970

Image from Out of the Vinyl Deeps, courtesy of Nona Willis Aronowitz.
Ellen Willis; NewSouth Publishing; $29.95
Out of the Vinyl Deeps
The bulk of Willis’ New Yorker work is in the new book, in addition to sporadic rock writing from after 1975. The collection has been arranged by her daughter, Nona Willis...
Vampire Weekend; XL / Remote Control
Modern Vampires of the City
Academy Awards, 2031. Rostam Batmanglij is at the podium accepting the Oscar for Best Original Soundtrack to that year’s art-house blockbuster, Silver Highway, the long-...
© Josh Heath
Twin peaks
Songs’ ‘Malabar’ review
There aren’t many great albums that can lose their last 17 minutes of music. Do that to the Ramones’ first album and side two disappears. Up until ‘Just an Idea...
© Jimmy King
David Bowie’s ‘The Next Day’
Falling Back to Earth
True to the spirit of The Next Day, David Bowie’s first studio album in ten years, one should jump straight in at track one and describe proceedings from there. Bowie’s brusque...
Michael Peterson in ‘Morning of the Earth’, February 1971. © Albert Falzon
Memories of a surfing legend
There are good and bad surf shops. Cluttered piles of major-label beachwear, too-loud rock muzak and indifferent staff mark the latter; the good ones you feel as you enter. The...
The freewheelin' Alex Gow. Image supplied.
Oh Mercy’s 'Deep Heat'
Slurring and Purring
If you’re going to use a Bob Dylan album title as a band name, Oh Mercy is about as good as it gets. Knocked Out Loaded? “Love and Theft”? Desire? One of the first things Oh Mercy...
Once again, without emotion: Bret and Jemaine on tour earlier this year. © Tracey Nearmy/AAP
Flight of the Conchords
I Told You I Was Freaky
They would have to be one of the most successful two-man bands to come out of New Zealand playing a mixture of folk, rock, soul and rap and with a song called ‘Epileptic Dogs’ in...
'The Voice'
The Vice of a Nation
How must John Farnham feel? For decades he has been the embodiment of his worldwide hit ‘You’re the Voice’ – and then in one night it all changes. ‘The Voice’ in public...
Jane Birkin’s world tour, 'Jane Birkin Sings Serge Gainsbourg'
Wave of Song
She speaks in English between songs and sings in French, pleasing the two largest nationalities of her public. Her English retains traces of her London birth and upbringing; the...
The Dirty Three on stage at Fowler's Bar in Adelaide, 2010. © Ben Searcy
The Dirty Three’s 'Toward the Low Sun'
Thirty Words
Occasionally, just by looking at the song titles on a record sleeve, you can tell an album is going to be great. There is a rightness to their form and meaning that, when linked...
Hans Poulsen on a natural high, 1971.
The golden age of singer–songwriters
Treasure in the attic
As far as romantic professions go, it’s up there with lighthouse-keeping, lion-taming or jobbing as a private detective in Los Angeles in the 1940s. The hours are long and the...
Shelves of rock'n'roll dreams. © Joanne Fitzgerald.
Identity in 30 albums
Spin it
Some years ago I was in the cluttered study of a friend who works as a music journalist and radio broadcaster in Munich. The walls were lined with shelving filled with vinyl...
The boys in Girls: Christopher Owens and Chet 'JR' White.
Girls’s ‘Father, Son, Holy Ghost’
Out of the bay
Girls are a two-piece band out of San Francisco who write and sing songs about loneliness, heartbreak, the fuzzy disconnect around rock’n’roll and romance, and girls. Father, Son...
Sarah Blasko - ‘As Day Follows Night’, 2009
Popular music masterpiece
Bookended by two wispy Disney-esque ballads, As Day Follows Night has as its body, and certainly its heart, ten beautiful songs. Their melodic strength is the major surprise,...
Buddy Holly singing at the Nurses Memorial Centre on St Kilda Rd, Melbourne, with Joe B Mauldin on bass and Jerry Allison on drums, 5 February 1958. Image courtesy of Roderick Jordan. © Roderick Jordan
‘Rave on Buddy Holly’
Maybe baby
Perhaps it could only happen to a white American boy writing songs and recording music during the first decade of rock ’n’ roll and at a time of American economic and cultural...
Rowland S Howard and Mick Harvey at the Electric Screen, London, 1985. © David Arnoff
Mick Harvey’s ‘Sketches from the Book of the Dead’
After they are gone
Imagine this: Mick Harvey is a 52-year-old new artist and Sketches from the Book of the Dead is his debut album. He hasn’t been in bands or toured before; instead, after crafting...