Shut Down, Turn Off (G Shorrock) and Reminiscing (G Goble) and Lady (G Goble) – Little River Band 1978
John Boylan was again the producer when the band entered AAV Studio 1 (Melb) to record their fourth album, Sleeper Catcher, a name inspired by the person who holds up and collects the cash during a game of two-up, the image depicted on the album’s artwork (above). There were several great songs, two of which climbed into the top ten in the US – Lady and Reminiscing neither of which charted any higher than #35 in Australia, indicating the divergence in popular tastes between the two countries at the time.Shut Down Turn Off was the first single released from the album and it was a local hit for LRB at #16, a more up- tempo, synth-inflected song penned by lead singer Glen Shorrock, which reflected his growing concerns about the band’s touring schedule and the acrimonious relationship that was brewing between himself and Rick Formosa who ultimately left the band. Shorrock also clashed with Graeham Goble, over what Glenn felt was Goble’s pedantic and obsessive attitudes to technical aspects of the band’s performance. Graeham was the controlling, focused, ruthless yin to Glenn’s more organic, spontaneous, and gregarious yang, and the lyrics of Shut Down Turn Off not surprisingly focused on tuning out, turning off, and chilling when the pressures of life became too much. Bassist George McArdle must have also felt this way, because after recording the album he left the band, enrolled in a Bible Studies course, and became an ordained minister to be replaced by Clive Harrison.The promo clip for the song was a bit of a curiosity, with the band dressed in NASA -style leisure uniforms, performing live in the studio, intercut with shots of the recording control desk doubling as mission command, seguing to band members individually walking down a country road, sheltering from the rain under an umbrella, and then the Spirit of Progress pulls into the Little River railway station south of Melbourne, there must have been some deep and meaningful metaphors there, that I missed.
LRB followed up later in the year with Reminiscing, a song that had been rejected several times as a result of the brutal culling process band members engaged in, as competing ambitions for individual songs to be released often crueled the chances of the group having timely hits. Glenn Shorrock’s song Cool Change was a classic example, initially rejected by band members and then belatedly included on the band’s sixth album First Under the Wire in 1979, it was subsequently a top ten hit in the US and included by APRA as one of the Top 30 Australian songs written in the period 1926-2001, the only LRB song to be so honored. Below a First Under The Wire billboard, Sunset Blvd; LA (Calif), 1979.
Reminiscing was a gentle MOR pop song, penned by guitarist Graeham Goble, inspired by the swing music of the 1930’s and 40’s, it became LRB’s highest charting single in the USA hitting #3 and charting locally at #35. A couple reminisce about the past with sentimental musical references to Glenn Miller and Cole Porter; musically this was the group’s most complex recording to date, a jazz-inflected song, with a languid tempo, featuring complex five-part harmonies, lush orchestration which included electric piano (Peter Sullivan), flugelhorn (Bobby Venier), flute (Vernin Hill), harp (Pan Raines), and strings arranged and conducted by the band’s former lead guitarist Rick Formosa. The song was praised by Frank Sinatra, and reputedly a favorite of John Lennon, and on constant rotation on easy listening FM stations in the US, clocking up over five million plays there.
The promo clip for the song was shot in Melbourne socialite Peter Janson’s apartment on the top floor of the Windsor Hotel, Spring St. (Melb) and featured his unique gentleman’s club interior décor, which included overstuffed armchairs, portrait prints, potted plants, an antique billiard table, a suit of armor and a stuffed polar bear – like the song, it was nostalgic and atmospheric. Barry Manilow and kd lang covered the song, and it was taken back into the Australian charts by local dance duo Madison Avenue, who climbed to #14 with it in 2001.Lady was a song that Graeham Goble had presented for inclusion on the band’s first album in 1975, but the others felt that while it had promise it needed more work. The band collaboratively fine-tuned and re-worked the song until it emerged as a classic MOR standard that has been played nearly 4 million times on US radio, although it failed to make the top forty here, Lady became the second US top ten hit for LRB at #10 in January 1979.
Glenn Shorrock played piano and David Briggs delivered exemplary lead guitar, the vocal harmonies of Goble, Birtles and Shorrock were as always right on the money, and a gentle string-laden coda closed out the song – it should have been a hit in Australia!