Little River Band – The Big Box (6 disc box set)

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Classic Rock x 6…

Reviewed by Brian McGowan and released by The Store For Music on 24 April 2017.

Emanating from Oz in 1975, the Little River Band are more like a long running tv series than a band, where cast members leave and new ones arrive. Where the plot revolves around a central theme, and never really changes. Where the audience know what to expect, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

By most metrics they are one of world’s most successful brands. It’s hard to argue with 30 million albums sold and 13 US Billboard Top Forty Hits. And yet they never really broke through on this side of the Atlantic, or the Pacific for that matter.

This weighty box set – five CDs and a DVD – represents only a slice of time, 2000 to 2016, but is a substantial body of work in itself. Much of the band’s classic material was re-recorded¬†during this period. For milestones like ‘Reminiscing’, ‘Night Owls’ and ‘Take It Easy On Me’ it’s Deja Vu All Over Again as we move through from album to album. In itself that’s no bad thing. A great song is a great song, and can stand repetition. It’s understandable that bands want to re-record their material using the benefits of modern studio technology, more especially where enough time has elapsed to allow perspective.

Conveniently, Where We Started From¬†(2000) is the first CD of the five. It’s an apt intro to the incredibly strong but deceptively mellow sense of equilibrium that underpins the band’s sharply written soft rock. It’s little wonder that their music, occasionally spiked by a welcome guitar crunch and smoothed out by cool hooks and harmonies led to comparisons with The Eagles and The Doobies.

Songs of durability and neat narrative simplicity resonate as much today as they did back in the seventies. ‘Cool Change’ ‘This Place’ and ‘Help Is On Its Way’, filled with subtle textures and atmospheric touches sound revitalised on Revisited and rejuvenated on Rearranged. Wayne Nelson, the band’s current longest serving member (from 1980) is a talented vocalist, reminding us that new boy or not, he’s still the same consummate pop-rock craftsman who has been making it all sound so smooth for years.

For many, the raw, real vibrancy of live performance is all. Many more go to see their favourite band sound like their favourite band. Live album, One Night In Mississippi (2002), is an exercise in nostalgic self homage, one that finds the band reconnecting with the steely spine of conviction (albeit buffed to an imperishable shine) that ran through their music over the years.

Test Of Time (2004) is an album of all new material that polarised opinion. Fans who hadn’t been paying attention discovered that no one was left from the original line up and panned it out of hand. Fans who’d been keeping up with world events recognised it, despite the lineup changes, as a classic slice of LRB.

The DVD, Bustin Out, assembles a bunch of live performances in one crystal clear sequence of audiovisual treats, recorded during the band’s 40th Anniversary tour. The tracks with the Florida Rock Symphony Orchestra – esp ‘Take It Easy On Me’ and ‘We Two’ – recall Styx at their splendid, orchestrated live peak. That obligatory DVD extra, an interview with the band, closes it out.

Plagued by litigation over the band name in recent years, involving band members old and new, it’s a wonder any kind of formation of the LRB is still going. It’s a delight then to come across this hefty volume of material… essentially a band in constant renewal performing music in constant review.

8 out of 10


LRBWhereLRBWhere We Started From:

  1. Where We Started From
  2. This Place
  3. Magazine Girl
  4. Just You And I
  5. The Night Owls
  6. I Think I Left My Heart With You
  7. Who Made The Moon
  8. Look In Your Eyes
  9. American Way
  10. Lead Me To Water
  11. Cool Change

LRBonenightOne Night :

  1. Man On Your Mind
  2. This Place
  3. Take It Easy On Me
  4. Lonesome Loser
  5. Where We Started From
  6. Reminiscing
  7. Happy Anniversary
  8. Who Made The Moon
  9. The Night Owls
  10. Help Is On Its Way
  11. It’s Not A Wonder (24 bit remaster)
  12. I Think I Left My Heart With You
  13. Cool Change
  14. Lady

LRBTest

Test Of Time:

  1. The Long Goodbye
  2. Shoulf I Go
  3. Back In Your Arms Tonight
  4. Old Money
  5. Hold On
  6. Enlighten Me
  7. Forever Now
  8. Can’t get You Outta My Heart
  9. I’ve Met Love Before
  10. I’m Waiting
  11. There’s A Bus Leaving

LRBRearrangedRearranged:

  1. It’s A Long Way
  2. Man On Your Mind
  3. This Place
  4. Take It Easy On Me
  5. Happy Anniversary
  6. Forever Blue
  7. The Other Guy
  8. Reminiscing
  9. Should I Go
  10. We Two/Down On The Border
  11. Help Is On Its Way
  12. The Night Owls
  13. Cool Change
  14. Lonesome Loser
  15. Lady

LRBrevisitedRevisited:

  1. Help Is On Its Way
  2. Reminiscing
  3. Lady
  4. Lonesome Loser
  5. Cool Change
  6. The Night Owls
  7. Take It Easy On Me
  8. Man On Your Mind
  9. We Two
  10. You Saved Me
  11. All The Young Faces

LRBboxBustin’ Out (DVD):

  1. The Night Owls
  2. Take It Easy On Me
  3. The Other Guy
  4. We Two
  5. The Lost And The Lonely
  6. I’m An Island
  7. Clean The Water
  8. Prodigal Son (audio only)
  9. Interview with LRB