Friday, 28 October 2016
You're Driving Me Out Of My Mind/We Two/No More Tears/Mr Socialite/Down On The Border/The Danger Sign/Falling/Sleepless Nights/Easy Money/The Net/One Day (Bonus Track)
The Net is the seventh studio album by Little River Band, which was released in May 1983. It marks what has become historically, the major crossroad in the band's musical direction. There stand several significant factors surrounding this record – it contained the band's last two singles to reach the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, with "We Two" reaching No. 22 and "You're Driving Me out of My Mind" peaking at No. 35. The album peaked at No. 11 on the Australian Kent Music Report albums chart and No. 61 on the Billboard 200.
The Net was their first full studio release to feature John Farnham as new lead vocalist replacing Glenn Shorrock and Stephen Housden taking up the mantle of lead guitarist – it is also the last album featuring original members Beeb Birtles (who permanently left the line-up after the US Tour in support of its release) and Derek Pellicci, who would rejoin the band in 1987.
The band's manager, Glenn Wheatley, fought very hard for Glenn Shorrock to stay, recalls LRB's father-figure Graham Goble. 'Wheatley believed that if Shorrock left LRB, it would be the end. But I knew if there wasn't a change, there wouldn't have been any more LRB anyway. It was a choice between changing lead singers or breaking up completely. Given that choice -why not change to the most gifted singer in the business?'
But why was Down Under's most successful band changing course after going further than any other Australian act in that toughest music market of all - America? What the fans hadn't realised was that by 1981, the facade of success was beginning to slip from LRB. Record sales were stalled, the tours were high-tech and ferociously expensive and still the band hadn't cracked that elusive US No. 1 single and the public seemed to be tiring of smooth Eagle-style harmonies and were looking for a sharper edge to their music. And there was tension on the road and in the studio between brilliant, driven musicians like Birtles and Goble and the laid-back, tomorrow's-another-day Shorrock. Beeb claims the band's irritation with Shorrock peaked while they were recording the 'Time Exposure' album in Monserrat. 'Shorrock had reached the stage in his career where he didn't want to try any more ... perhaps it was a form of midlife crisis. I'd had enough of people complaining to me about Glenn, but no one saying anything at band meetings.
Graham Goble was also looking for a 'new shot of energy'. 'Creatively [with Shorrock] we felt in a bind ... we wanted to grow in all sorts of areas that the public wouldn't let us do under the guise of LRB.' Beeb, having led the charge to rid the band of its lead singer, saw no need to rush into a decision on a new singer and was surprised when the others began discussing John Farnham as the man most likely to succeed. But Graham and drummer Derek Pellicci, who had also worked on 'Uncovered', were keen on John Farnham. Graham admits to having always been a fan of John's, 'there is no singer in the world who could do more with their voice from a technical point of view... and he is also one of the best harmony singers on the planet. When we were looking at LRB, the question was, could he sing the harmonies? Not only could he sing them, but also he could sing them incredibly well. The vocals we sang on 'Playing to Win', 'The Net' and the 'No Reins' albums [the three LRB albums with John Farnham's name on the credits] are the most exciting I've ever been involved with because they were done so quickly, but with so much energy.'
In February 1981, John was holidaying at Sorrento, south of Melbourne, with Jillian and Robbie when Glenn Wheatley phoned and put the offer to him to join the band at 10.30 p.m. John went back to the kitchen, opened a bottle of wine, and sat down with Jillian; they talked about the move until 4 a.m. or so. He returned to Melbourne that morning, attended a band meeting at 11 a.m. and was in the studio at noon.
Fame had come so quickly, so easily and with a song that was a joke among his peers. How many other singers could say they'd left their job two days before a single came out and three weeks before it was a national hit? In short, John felt he'd never had to work for fame. 'I spent years buzzing around and seeing all these poor buggers living in one house with one pair of shoes between them and I always felt fairly guilty that I hadn't had to pay any dues.' LRB might just be the first step in settling the account.
Graham Goble told John that as Glenn Shorrock was going out the door after that last fateful band meeting, he turned to the room and said, "I think you should get Farnham". 'If that's true, it's nice,' said John. 'Glenn and I are good mates, though we don't see each other that much. There was no animosity there.' And he's keen to debunk the theory current at the time that Glenn Wheatley had taken him on to be groomed as a replacement for Shorrock. 'That wasn't the case in my mind. There had been a lot of in-fighting for a number of years and I understand that it got to the stage where they made the albums with one member at a time in the studio because no one would talk to anyone else. But that's the case with a lot of bands and some are very successful.'
Thanks to AussieRock for the extract.