From the very beginning of the extraordinary musical unit known as Little River Band, there was a fascinating face presented to the world - an image that was not an image. Whatever the line-up of the time and no matter how dizzying the success, a seasoned, intelligent core of consummate musicians and singers went about their craft with an attitude of unstinting determination and professionalism, and without pretension or hyperbole.
The focus was only ever upon what it should have been upon - deftly constructed songs, rich in emotion and enduring in appeal. By remaining aloof from extreme images and trends, LRB survived as a respected and constantly demanded outfit, selling more than 25 million records and racking up more than a few achievements of note.
Behind those disc achievements was a solid commitment to their audience, one that took them out on the American and international concert trail at least twice a year during the late 70s and early 80s. Polished, full-blooded, sincere performances from Seattle to Stuttgart to Sydney generated an enormously loyal following which enabled the band to play before large and enthusiastic audiences outside of Australia soon after formation. The respect they won for their tireless professionalism would play a key role in their sustained American popularity. Their shows were a spirited musical celebration, with a buoyant attitude.
The startling realisation for concert audiences, was that the layered, perfectly pitched vocal patterns they heard on the records were also on offer in concert halls. They luxuriated in the waves of harmonic sound sweeping out from the stage.
The band’s vocal strength was matched by a great songwriting depth, with at least four significant song sources within the band at any one time. The main writers – Graeham Goble, Glenn Shorrock and Beeb Birtles – were masters of song craft. Glenn’s works, such as Home On Monday (the perfect lonely road saga), Help Is On Its Way, Man On Your Mind and Cool Change were intimate and personal, while Graeham mastered an almost traditional twentieth century professional writing approach in classics such as Reminiscing (the most globally broadcasted Australian song ever), Lady, It’s A Long Way There, The Night Owls and Take It Easy On Me. Beeb ranged across quite diverse terrain, and was responsible for a number of timeless songs which commanded attention – Curiosity Killed The Cat, Every Day Of My Life, Happy Anniversary, Witchery and Light Of Day among them.
Each had learned this trade well, coming up through the demanding environment of the Australian pop scene of the 60s and early 70s. Glenn in The Twilights, Axiom and (in England) Esperanto, Beeb in The Zoot, Frieze and Mississippi, and Graeham in Allison Gros and Mississippi. In those pioneering outfits they soon came to know that songs and their delivery were paramount.
And although they didn’t deliver them up to the world just then, they prepared them for the assault and accomplishments to come.
The three left Little River Band at different points in its evolution, and Glenn even came back for a time. As they moved on they continued to create music of consequence and added it to their individual repertoires. Then, into a new century, they returned to each other’s company and pooled their holdings. Initially tentative, it proved to be a gestalt as natural as it was overpowering. Collectively, as a body of work in Australian music, it is peerless.
As this sumptuous performance, captured at Melbourne’s Forum in July 2003 in a six-camera shoot, shows us, there was old ground and new ground for all. Glenn had never sung on the Farnham-era hit The Other Guy but is integral to its new acoustic rendering. Beeb was gone a year later and did not play on the originals of Face In The Crowd and Soul Searching (from No Reins and Monsoon). These nights, indeed all their new collaborative nights, were voyages of discovery for both singers and audience.
The Time Exposure song Full Circle, which sets us soaring right from the start with a cappella purity, underlines just where the musical journey of Birtles Shorrock Goble has taken these musical wayfarers. This is the essence of a lifetime of making music - of three lifetimes of making music. It is the old, it is the new, it is the moments in between.
At the risk of labouring a point, let me say again that before and beyond anything else it was the songs - it will always be the songs. They have stood the test of time. They have become a part of people’s lives. I suspect that, if you are reading this, they have become part of yours.
GLENN A. BAKER
Songs written by Graeham Goble are in BOLD
|Graeham Goble||Harmony Vocals, Vocal Arrangements, Acoustic & Electric Guitars|
|Glenn Shorrock||Lead Vocal|
|Beeb Birtles||Lead & Harmony Vocals, Acoustic & Electric Guitars|
|Jason Vorherr||Bass & Vocals|
|Dorian West||Keyboards, Flugal Horn, Trumpet, Lap Steel, Piano Accordion|
|Simon Hosford||Lead Guitar, Nylon String Guitar, Vocals|
|Produced by||Graeham Goble & Paul Rodger|
|Engineered by||Ern Rose|
|Mixed by||Michael Costa & Graeham Goble|