Today’s music video is It’s A Long Way There and this song is performed here by the huge Australian group, The Little River Band.
This video was posted to You Tube by OzzyTunes
I always liked the music from this famed Australian band, but not really enough to spend my money on one of their albums, although I always sort of regretted that I never got hold of a copy of their third album, Diamantina Cocktail, with its clever title and the wonderfully creative cover art for the Australian Album. (shown at this link) I liked their music because of the really tight harmonies and the good musicianship of the band.
This song I have featured today was from their first album (which was self titled) released in late 1975, and an image of the cover for the Australian release of that album is shown at the right. There were two songs lifted from the album, and they both charted inside the Top 20 here in Australia, and gained the band a strong following. They did a Nationwide tour, and on the back of that, released the song I have featured today, It’s A Long Way There, but there was a quirk with that, which I’ll get to. This song made it inside the Top 40 here in Australia, did well in the UK, and also in a minor way in the U.S. They then released a second album, and then did a World tour which established the band in a huge way on the Worldwide basis, especially in the U.S. where the band was really huge, a first for Australia, as most bands used to tour the UK in those days in the hope of making the big time. At the start of that World tour, their first album was re-released only with a different cover, and that’s the one shown during the video clip above, with the band name on the railing above the heads of the band standing in front of that platform.
When the song I have featured today was originally released, it received average airplay on the radio, and I liked it, but again, it was just another of those songs you hear which are okay, but don’t really grab you. After it came and went on the charts, the song disappeared, as most of them do, and you only occasionally hear it over the years. However, around ten years or so back, I remember hearing the song again, and it’s funny how sometimes you tune in, even while thinking that it’s just background music. There seemed to be something different about the song right close to when it started, so I paid close attention, and off it went on this tangent that I had never heard before. It just kept going and going, and there was this astonishing guitar break in the middle and then again, a smaller break a little later, and what seemed to be an extra verse. I knew what the song was, so I didn’t have to wait around to hear what it was from the announcer. That was it. Then, over the next few years, every time I heard the song, it was always this longer version and I wondered where it had come from. I chased it up, thanks to the Internet we never had back then, and found that the song was originally this length of just on nine minutes, while the song that was released for radio near the time of the original release was edited down to slightly less than half its length, the way radio did things in those days, when songs of more than four/four and a half minutes were rarely played on radio.
I mentioned at last week’s music Post (at this link) how the history of people who play in bands changes across the years, and it’s sometimes interesting to follow that history. Last week’s song was from a band called Mississippi, the direct predecessor of this band, and the history of this new band The Little River Band is indeed an interesting one. Graeham Goble was with the band from the start, Alison Gros, who played also as Drummond, and then changed their name to Mississippi. They were then joined by Derek Pellici on drums, and he came from another Australian band Blackfeather, and Beeb Birtles who came from a huge Australian Band, Zoot, joining Mississippi when that band folded. Mississippi toured the UK, found life hard there as a small fish in a pretty huge pond, and folding, went back to Australia. Before leaving they met in London with Glenn Wheatley, now into management, and formerly a member of another famed Australian band The Master’s Apprentices. He introduced them to Glenn Shorrock, already a famous name in Australian music from one of the most influential Australian bands from the 60’s The Twilights, and later joining another big Australian band Axiom. They all decided to return to Australia and join together with what was the nucleus of the band tentatively still called Mississippi, but later to become The Little River Band. Once back in Australia, they were then joined by well known guitarist Rick Formosa. So what we ended up with here was the archetypal ‘Supergroup’, albeit an Australian one with the biggest names from half a dozen of the biggest bands in Australian music.
They practiced together, then played gigs, changed their name, and off it all went. Even with that pedigree from so many famous Australian bands, they still had to start all over again.
They had two minor hots both well inside the National Top 20, a good following from a strong local audience, regular airplay one and then two, reasonably well selling albums, and the prospect of a World Tour.
Just prior to the start of that World tour, lead guitarist Rick Formosa left to pursue a career as an orchestral arranger, and he was replaced by David Briggs, a guitarist already well respected from his time with a couple of bands he was a member of in Australia.
The band took off literally in the U.S. mainly because they could reproduce exactly the same intricate music and harmonies from their recorded music, and then do that live on stage. Then came that wonderful album Diamantina Cocktail, and they just entered superstar status as a band.
Perhaps the main forte of the band was that excellent musicianship, and the fact that there were now three main lead singers. While Glenn Shorrock was the front man singer for the band, lead vocals were also done by Beeb Birtles, and also Graeham Goble, not just the occasional harmony, but three dedicated lead vocalists, and that is highlighted here with this song, the careful and clever blending of those three voices, more than just plain harmony.
However, this song featured today highlights perhaps one of my favourite things when it comes to music, a beautiful piece of work on the lead guitar, not just noise, as some guitar work is but a melodious piece highlighting just how good Rick Formosa was on his instrument of choice.
The Little River Band is an icon of Australian music, and while they had a number of smash hits throughout their career as a band, this one song is perhaps my most favourite of all their works, and one I didn’t even know existed until almost twenty five years after it was originally done.