I’ve never been much of a fan of Farrell’s work. I’ve had friends that I’ve found far more entertaining and amusing, but I do know that the man has his devotees that still flock to each new offering.
And, aside from death, one of the surest ways to reboot a career or revitalize interest in a song or catalog is an appearance in a popular movie. The use of Unchained Melody in Ghost had brought folks into the first store I worked in for the Righteous Brothers classic from two decades earlier.
So, connecting the dots, it’s quite possible that a generation under thirty-five or so who have little – if any – idea who the hell the Little River Band is/was might end up grooving to the suave stylings of Reminiscing for the first time.
First Under The Wire was the group’s current album when I was developing an interest in music and I was familiar with that record’s hits Lonesome Loser and Cool Change. But, I was also in the loop on some of their previous hits like Help Is On The Way, Happy Anniversary, and Reminiscing as they continued to pop up on radio.
By the time Time Exposure hit stores in the autumn of ’81, I was all in on music and the Little River Band was a pop radio staple with early ’80s hits like The Night Owls, Take It Easy On Me, and Man On Your Mind.
Though I liked some of their songs, I was little more than a casual fan and didn’t own anything by the group. Music videos weren’t yet common and I don’t recall reading much, if anything, on the Little River Band.
That might be the reason that, though one of Australia’s most successful musical exports to the States, the Little River Band were a blank slate to me and rather anonymous.
(about all I knew was that the band had a member named Beeb Birtles – likely imparted to me by Casey Kasem – merely because it’s difficult to forget a name like Beeb Birtles)
I can’t even picture a member of the group.
(I keep conjuring up images of guys in blue jeans with late ’70s style facial hair)
If I was asked to pick the band out of a line-up of contemporary acts of the day, I’d likely mistake some other faceless group like Ambrosia or Pablo Cruise for Little River Band.
I think that I might have seen Little River Band perform on Solid Gold, but the focus when watching that show was primarily the Solid Gold dancers (those girls were riveting stuff for a thirteen-year old in 1981).
But I thought now – as they could be poised for big things – might be a good time to get reacquainted with the Little River Band…
Little River Band – Cool Change
from Greatest Hits
It’s not Christopher Cross, but there seems to be something about mellow-rockin’, nautically-themed songs from the early ’80s that spellbind me.
The song also served me well when out drinking with our store’s jazz guru. He could – at times – be the jazz snob and lecture us on obscure performances and theory. It was well-intended.
If it went on too long, I’d ask him if he’d heard the cat blow notes on Cool Change – a tactic which brought conversation back to more mainstream subject matter.
Little River Band – Take It Easy On Me
from Greatest Hits
Another friend at the same store would invariably play Take It Easy On Me on the jukebox at a pool place we’d occasionally patronize. Dan would sing along – quite well, actually – replacing the “me” with his name in the chorus.
During the winter of ’81/’82, it seemed like I heard the song as much as any other. It’s fused to that time of year for me and somehow doesn’t sound quite right in the summer.
Little River Band – We Two
from The Net
The Net was the band’s first album with new lead singer John Farnham. I didn’t notice much of a difference when I heard the laid-back We Two. In fact, I quite liked the song even though its hook was more subtle than their (then) more recent hits.
Little River Band – Playing To Win
from Playing To Win
The Net came and went quickly in the States. That was in 1983.
The band wouldn’t put out another album for two years. As I’d really only been listening to music for a few years, I had never known radio without Little River Band having a current hit song.
By the time Little River Band released a new album, I had moved away from Top 40 radio and was listening to album rock and 97X almost exclusively. It was on one of the rock stations that I heard their new song, Playing To Win, and, honestly, I would have never guessed it was LRB (as they were now billing themselves) had the DJ not mentioned it.