GLENN SHORROCK – TWILIGHTS/AXIOM/LITTLE RIVER BAND

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Cool Change (G Shorrock) and Lonesome Loser (D Briggs) – Little River Band 1979

 LRB15Cool Change was lifted from the First Under the Wire album, and while it failed to chart as a single locally, it scored heavily in the USA where it made #10. The expression “cool change” is a metaphor for changes in our lives, those that can be anticipated, enjoyed, or even regretted, but never forgotten “And now that my life is so prearranged/ I know that it’s time for a cool change.”LRB36

The band members were all experiencing loneliness, Glenn had married for a second time to Jo Swan in 1980, and they would remain together until the couple surprisingly split and divorced some thirty-nine years later in 2019 (above left in happier times, and below ). LRB35

Goble, Birtles, and Pellicci were also married, homesick, and missing their families, the songwriters within the group started to focus on these issues so much in tracks such as Home on a Monday, Days on the Road, The Drifter, Take Me Home and even Cool Change, that their record company had rejected an earlier album because it was too depressing. Glenn Shorrock had written Cool Change in 1977/78, when he was in Melbourne, motivated by mixed emotions – frustration about internal band politics, fatigue from touring, and growing environmental concerns “I know it may sound selfish/ But let me breathe the air.” The song was not included on the next LRB album which was Sleeper Catcher and did not make the cut until 1979, much to Shorrock’s chagrin.

There is a breezy elegance to the arrangement, the listener can almost feel the change moving in as the tempo shifts and the orchestration segues from the subtle acoustic piano of Peter Jones and bass of Mike Clarke to a tenor sax flourish from Bill Harrower- it was highly accomplished song writing, arranging and production.LRB9Glenn Shorrock recalled that the harmonies on the outgoing choruses of this song were sung around one microphone and then triple-tracked, infusing them with a richness and intimacy that was unique. LRB had real momentum in the US at this time, this record had been preceded by several other top 10 US hits including Reminiscing (#3 1978), Lady (#10 1979) and Lonesome Loser (#6 1979), and the First Under the Wire album was their first million-selling album in the US.LRB40But there were serious divisions within the band, Goble and Shorrock were in dispute over song choices, Wheatley sensed that there was a move within the band against Shorrock; in protest Goble and Birtles had taken all the songs that their LRB band mates had rejected and released them on a Birtles/Goble album, The Last Romance (above), along with several singles, the most successful being I’m Coming Home, which climbed to #6 locally in 1979. Not to be outdone Glenn Shorrock released a cover version of the Bobby Darin hit Dream Lover for his own #8 local hit in 1979.

Ultimately Cool Change got the recognition that it deserved here when APRA released their list of the top 30 Australian songs of the period 1926- 2001 and Cool Change was justifiably included, it was the only LRB song so honoured. In 1982 Glenn Shorrock was replaced as lead singer by John Farnham, maybe this was the cool change that Glenn had been subconsciously looking for when he wrote this song anyway, although he did return to the fold several years later and briefly resumed duties as LRB front man. Lonesome Loser was written by LRB guitarist David Briggs, and it was the only song for which the band received a Grammy Award nomination, the a capella opening was pitched quite high, which was an LRB characteristic, like the Hollies, but higher than the Eagles, to which LRB were often compared.

The higher pitch of certain songs like Lonesome Loser, Happy Anniversary Baby, and Help is On Its Way, meant that they were usually performed earlier in live sets, before the singers’ voices become too strained. Lonesome Loser was another example of the highly accessible vocal-harmony brand of country pop that was the band’s forte, featuring Peter Sullivan on keyboards, it charted top 20 here and #6 in the USA when also lifted from the First Under the Wire album.farnham40LRB did conquer the US market and remarkably achieved a top 20 hit in the USA in every year from 1977 – 82 including no less than six consecutive top ten hit records from 1978- 81. The band’s chart success in Australia during the same period was more muted, in 1977-82 the band scored with only two top ten hits – Help Is on Its Way (their only #1 hit locally in “77) and Down on The Border (#7 in “82) when Johnny Farnham was lead singer.(above)LRB39In 1986 Capitol Records dropped LRB from their roster and this hastened the departure of  John Farnham back to a solo career, he had done 385 live shows with the band, recorded three albums and toured the USA unrelentingly, but he had felt like a hired hand, with his naturally gregarious personality and blokey stage persona suppressed by Goble, now he was battle-hardened for his next challenge, and he would need to be, financially he was broke. A re-formed LRB, signed to MCA, scored their last top ten hit in Australia with the Graeham Goble/Stephen Houseden song Love Is A Bridge which climbed to #6 in 1988, and in a “back to the future” move that surprised many, Glenn Shorrock returned as lead singer and John Bolyan returned to the AAV Studios (Melb) to produce what would be the band/s last top ten album, Monsoon in 1988.LRB38The post-breakup years of LRB were punctuated by accusations by band members  of mismanagement by Wheatley, claims and counter-claims and litigation between original band members and Stephen Houseden, latter-day lead guitarist with the band and ultimately the sole owner of WeTwo Pty Ltd, the holding company in which the LRB name and distinctive platypus trademark was vested.LRB13This legal nicety has effectively deprived the original Australian band members from touring the lucrative heritage rock circuit in the US as the Little River Band. But there was some consolation for the classic LRB lineup when the band was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2004 – for this occasion, and for only 24 hours, Houseden permitted the band to appear as the Little River Band and perform one song – Shut Down Turn Off would have been the ironic choice, but Shorrock, Goble, Birtles, Pellicci, Briggs and McArdle, turned back the clock with a nostalgic reprise of Help is On Its Way.  

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