One Track Mind: Little River Band "It’s A Long Way There" (1975)

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Lush strings, rich three part vocal harmonies, blending acoustic guitars and an almost non-stop lead guitar, all stretched out to nearly nine minutes. That’s a hell of a way of a band to introduce themselves on the radio, but the then-infant Australian troupe The Little River Band did just that to break into the American market with “It’s A Long Way There” in post-Watergate 1976.

Formed just a year earlier, the Little River Band was founded by musicians who were already musical stars in their native country, but struck out in the UK. Now, they set their sights on the USA.

Their self-titled album came out in Australia near the end of ’75 and then reached America the following year. Helped along by promotional tours, the long, leadoff track from their first album started appearing on rock radio. The radio edit version (video below) chopped more than half of the song off, and was good enough to give LRB their first American hit, getting into the Top 30. That touched off a string of thirteen top 40 hits in the U.S., like “Happy Anniversary,” “Reminiscing” and “Lady,” but their first one rollicked and rocked more than the songs they’re better known for, and the melody was one of the best Goble ever wrote.

Having listened to a lot of album rock radio at the time, it’s the unabridged version I think of, and it doesn’t even feel that long to me. In spite of Ric Formosa’s endless guitar soloing, the vocal synthesis of Glenn Shorrock, Beeb Birtles and Graeham Goble make this song go. Goble wrote “It’s A Long Way There” as the first of several LRB songs describing his first-hand accounts of a life on the road. The band sought to follow the Eagles’ country-rock formula for success, but more often than not ended up sounding more like Crosby, Stills and Nash. You could even argue that Shorrock’s soulful lead voice approximated Stills, while Birtles sung the “Nash” parts and Gobles was the band’s David Crosby, harmony-wise. It wasn’t the match of CSN at their best, but darn close enough.

In fact, “It’s A Long Way There” might be the best CSN song that CSN never did.


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at [email protected] .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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