As the lead singer of Australia’s Little River Band, Glenn Shorrock placed 10 singles in the U.S. Top 20 every year from 1977 through 1983. New recordings of a majority of these songs appear on Glenn’s new album The Hits. He has also released his autobiography Now, Where Was I?
By Warren Kurtz
GOLDMINE:Congratulations on the new album. It is easy to love. We already know a majority of these songs, and the new versions are very nice, and you still sound great.
GLENN SHORROCK: That is very pleasing to hear. Most of my fans have already got the originals. I just wanted to remind people that I’m still singing.
GM:The album begins with “It’s a Long Way There,” which was the U.S. Top 40 debut single for Little River Band (LRB) in the ‘70s. This is soulful. I love the electric piano on it.
GS: That’s a guy named Rob Woolf on keyboards. The players on the album are chosen mainly because they are local guys here in Sydney. A friend of mine, Steve Balbi, said that he would choose the songs, give me some ideas, put a band together, go into the studio, do it live and see what happens. I’m really thrilled with it. I played it for my old LRB manager Glenn Wheatley and he stood there and said, “They’re better than the originals.”
Little River Band
Flip side: Shut Down Turn Off
A side: Lonesome Loser
Top 100 Debut: July 21, 1979
GM:There are some aspects where if anything about the original LRB records sounded dated, those sounds are removed, like electronics or electronic drums. I think about “Shut Down Turn Off,” which is one of my favorites on the new album. It has also been a favorite LRB flip side of mine for years. I enjoyed the original ‘70s recording. We used to play it at Peaches Records & Tapes as the opening number from the Sleeper Catcher album, right before “Reminiscing,” which our customers knew from the radio.
GS: I’ve got all the Peaches T-shirts from America still. With these songs, we wanted to bring it up to date and get my voice up front rather than concentrate on the LRB harmony sound. You mention “Reminiscing.” I really like the new version which is a little jazz trio, which is the way I do it these days anyway.
GM:That is one that always had a different sound. My wife Donna and I love the TV show “I Love Lucy.” When you sampled that show’s theme music in “Reminiscing,” it gave the original record a friendly nostalgic sound in the ‘70s. We have moved across America a lot over the years, including living in Nevada, so when you sing about the Las Vegas Hilton on “Home on Monday,” I can picture that. Also, the keyboard opening reminds me of one of Donna’s favorite Simon and Garfunkel songs, “My Little Town.” It is very enjoyable.
GS: Oh, thanks mate. I really appreciate that input. I can still picture myself in that hotel room talking to my wife on the phone and writing it down as we talked. I was rooming with one of the guys and he was listening to my conversation and said, “That sounds like a lyric to a song.” I said, “OK, I’ll keep talking, you write it down.”
GM:Our daughter Brianna and I saw the band Chicago a couple of years ago, here in Florida, and between the songs with all the instruments, Jason Scheff, who was the bass player at the time, came out with only a keyboard to do one of his ‘80s hits. I think it was “Look Away,” and Brianna said that this one of her favorite parts. It was simple; it was touching, and that is the same approach I think you took when I listen to the new version of “Take It Easy on Me.”
GS: That is pleasing for me to hear. You mention Florida, I go way back a long, long way to Florida. Jacksonville, Florida was very influential in breaking Australia acts, both Little River Band and AC/DC in the ‘70s, thanks to a program guy there named Bill Bartlett. I am very philosophical about LRB and America. My tenure in LRB got me in front of American audiences for a good part of my career.
GM:In 1983, months after Brianna was born, your solo single “Don’t Girls Get Lonely” from your Villain of the Peace album was on the radio. I really enjoyed the flip side, not on the album, that you co-wrote “Do It Anyway.”
GS: That is the time when I split with the band, which was not my idea. They thought they needed a different lead singer and I stayed in Australia.
Flip side: Do It Anyway
A side: Don’t Girls Get Loney
Top 100 Debut: September 24, 1983
GM:On your 2000 album Spin Me ‘Round, you include the song “At the Mercy of the Sea,” written by another Australian, Keith Urban. I saw him perform here in Daytona Beach. He is so generous. At the show, a middle school teenage girl wanted him to autograph her old straw cowboy hat. He didn’t think that would work too well, so, in the middle of the show, and in the crowd, he wiped off his guitar with his T-shirt, autographed that, gave it to her, spoke with her and her mother and took a photo. He is so generous.
GS: Yes, Keith’s always been generous. I saw him recently. He was down here doing some shows and was also a presenter at the ARIA Awards, for the Australian Recording Industry Association. He gave me a big hug and it was good to catch up with him.
GM:A song of yours that Brianna is familiar with is “Lonesome Loser.” It is still catchy when you do it. I definitely enjoy the new version with that Motown-like introduction.
GS: After that music, I deliberately left the vocal opening as it was originally done. Steve said we’ll give it an “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” feel, different from the version on our LRB album, First Under the Wire.
GM:Regarding that album, I must tell you my “Cool Change” story, which is my absolute favorite song of yours. Donna and I grew up in Cleveland and shortly after we got married, we moved to Dallas, Texas in January of 1980, just the two of us alone, leaving behind friends and family in Ohio. The weather in Cleveland was freezing and in comparison, the weather in Dallas was cool. This is while “Cool Change” was still in the Top 40 for our 1200 mile journey. Years later, we moved from Dallas to Richmond, Virginia. I went first, ahead of the rest of the family. I pulled out of our garage to a back alley exit, and waved goodbye. Donna was holding Brianna, who was a few months old, both waving, as “Cool Change” came on the radio and gave me chills. So, the song that got us to Texas was also the song playing as I was leaving for the next “cool change,” as I would be spending time alone, for a few weeks until we would reconnect in Virginia.
GS: It is a beautiful piece included on the new album. These are connections that songwriters have who listen and take notice of it. I think those opening lines relate to a lot of people, “If there’s one thing in life that I’m missing, it’s the time that I spend alone.” That just led me to write that song very quickly. At my shows in Australia, starting mid-month, I’ll be playing this one and the others with a five piece band most of the time. If it is a smaller venue, I do an acoustic version with just two acoustic guitars and light drums. We sit on stools and I tell stories.
GM:You share plenty of stories in your new book Now Where Was I? I have enjoyed learning about your earlier Australian groups The Twilights in the ‘60s and Axiom in the early ‘70s. I love your voice on 1971’s “My Baby’s Gone” and as a father of a daughter, I am touched by “A Little Ray of Sunshine,” from 1970.
GS: Thank you. The autobiography explains a lot of my life, of course. I still do about 50 to 70 shows a year and I am still enjoying singing the songs. I have a body of work behind me. People don’t want to hear too much new stuff, so I keep singing the hits and that’s a legacy that is mine. I wrote a lot of those hits. I have been doing it since I was 18 and I am now in my 70's.
Warren Kurtz is a Contributing Editor at Goldmine. “Warren’s Fabulous Flip Sides” can be heard most Saturday mornings, in the 9 a.m. hour, Eastern time, as part of “Moments to Remember” at wvcr.com or iHeart Radio – search WVCR.