Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Saturday Surveys ( 11 - 22 )

We've run this chart before in Forgotten Hits ... perhaps most unique because it's dated the same date as The Kennedy Assassination ... November 22, 1963.

Our FH Buddy Bob Hale was responsible for counting them down this day but his show was preempted by the non-stop news coverage coming out of Dallas ... where all of America's world was turned upside down.

Only 90 minutes earlier, President Kennedy had been officially pronounced dead at Parkland Hospital.  Nationwide, all eyes and ears were on Dallas, looking for ANY new details that might help to make sense of this tragedy.

The WLS Silver Dollar Survey spotlights some great music from late-1963 ... personal favorites include "Wonderful Summer" by Robin Ward, "She's A Fool" by Lesley Gore, "Deep Purple" by Nino Tempo and April Stevens, "I Can't Stay Mad At You" by Skeeter Davis and "Fools Rush In" by Rick Nelson ... when's the last time you heard ANY of these on commercial radio???

Jumping ahead six years, we find this KXOA Chart from 1969 ... with a VERY unlikely #1 Hit, "Wasn't Born To Follow" by The Byrds.  (This song never even made the Billboard Hot 100 Chart ... and was, in fact, the B-Side to their current, low-charting hit "Ballad Of Easy Rider" ... so this one comes as a COMPLETE surprise!)  

The Band are charting quite high here, too, with their early chart hit "Up On Cripple Creek" ... it sits at #3 this week.  In fact, quite a bit of this charts leans toward the "heavy hits" of the day ... Creedence Clearwater Revival, Three Dog Night, both The Beatles AND The Plastic Ono Band, A.B. Skhy, Crosby, Stills and Nash (with another B-Side, "Long Time Gone", the flipside of "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes", which charts ten spots below it at #29), Janis Joplin, Santana, Thunderclap Newman, Blind Faith ... this looks like what would come to be known as FM Classic Rock several years later!  (Even their Top Five Albums reflect this, with titles represented by Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, CCR and the Soundtrack to "Easy Rider".)    

Meanwhile, odd-ball (by comparison!) tracks like "Jam Up And Jelly Tight" by Tommy Roe, "Cherry Hill Park" by Billy Joe Royal, "Love And Let Love" by The Hardy Boys and "Groovy Grubworm" by Harlow Wilcox can also be found on this week's Top 30.  An eclectic mix to be sure!

El Paso's KELP was also serving up an unusual mix of music back in 1968.

The #1 Record was by Rene and Rene with their (mostly) foreign-language hit "Lo Mucho Que To Quiero", a song that also did pretty well here in Chicago.  (We have featured this one a few time over the years and it always gets a good response ... a truly "forgotten hit" if there ever was one ... yet EVERYBODY seems to remember it once they hear it again ... and thus is the very essence of what Forgotten Hits is all about!)

Right behind it is Brenton Wood with "Me And You", a song that only "bubbled under" in Billboard (and at #121 at that!).  Believe it or not, this one was LAST week's #1 Record in El Paso!  (I'd never even heard it before ... and, listening to it now, it SURE sounds out of place in 1968!  More like a doo-wop record with a spoken narration???  Wow!)

Thee Midnighters have TWO Top 12 Hits:  "That's All" is at #4 this week and "Sad Girl" is at #12.  Neither one of these records made the Billboard chart ... and once again harken back to a much older sound.

Boy, Clark Besch sure sent us some VERY interesting charts for this week's Saturday Surveys feature!

Yes, you've got The Beach Boys topping the KAFY "Boss 30" Hit Parade with their monster hit "Good Vibrations" ... but that one was #1 EVERYWHERE.  So check out numbers 2 and 3!!!  "Little Black Egg" by The Nightcrawlers (a garage band classic if there ever was one) holds down the #2 spot ... and one of Dave The Rave's all-time favorite bands, Richard and the Young Lions are ranked at #3 with their hit "Open Your Door".

Interesting to see The Sandpipers' version of "Louie Louie" in the Top Ten ... in fact, down from #3 last week to #7 this week ... and Brian Hyland's latest, "Run, Run, Look And See" jumps all the way from #23 to #10!  (You won't find any "dirty lyrics" in The Sandpipers' version ... meanwhile, The Kingsmen's version of "Louie Louie" made our 1963 WLS chart featured above.)   

Also on the chart is the Rare Breed version of "Come Take A Ride In My Boat" ... which would go to the top of the charts a year later when it was re-recorded as "Come On Down To My Boat" by Every Mother's Son!

Friday, November 21, 2014

50 Years Ago This Weekend

November 21-22-23:   

"She's Not There" climbs to #5 this week for The Zombies on The Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart.  "Have I The Right" is at #7, "You Really Got Me" is at #8 and "Time Is On My Side" is at #10 for The Honeycombs, The Kinks and The Rolling Stones (respectively).  

"Do Wah Diddy Diddy" falls to #15 for Manfred Mann while Herman's Hermits climb to #20 with "I'm Into Something Good".  Peter and Gordon ("I Don't Want To See You Again", #26), Gerry and the Pacemakers ("I Like It", #28), "When You Walk In The Room" (#35 for The Searchers), "Everybody Knows" by The Dave Clark Five (#37) and "I'm Crying" by The Animals (#40) round out The British faction of The Top 40 this week.  

The Nashville Teens sit just outside The Top 40 with "Tobacco Road" ... it falls from #15 to #41 this week.  Manfred Mann make a HUGE leap (from #71 to #47) with "Sha La La" while The Dave Clark Five climb from #78 to #63 with "Any Way You Want It".  Chad and Jeremy also show some positive movement with their latest as "Willow Weep For Me" climbs from #94 to #79.  Premiering this week at #81 is "The Wedding" by Julie Rogers.

Herman's Hermits take over the #1 Position this week on the WLS Silver Dollar Survey with their first American Hit, "I'm Into Something Good".  (Peter Noone and the boys ALWAYS did really well here in Chicago ... nearly every single hit they had peaked higher in Chicago than it did on the national charts.)  

The Zombies are in at #2 with "She's Not There" ... they'll take over the top spot in a couple of weeks.  The Kinks fall to #4 with "You Really Got Me" but The Rolling Stones enter The Top Ten for the first time with "Time Is On My Side"  

Rounding out the rest of the chart we find "Have I The Right" by The Honeycombs at #11, "Don't It Make You Feel Good" by The Overlanders at #12, and Marianne Faithful premiering at #28 with her version of "As Tears Go By". (Being Mick Jagger's girlfriend had certain advantages back in the day ... The Stones themselves wouldn't chart with this song for over a year!)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Little River Band

For reasons that will become painfully obvious as you continue to read this article, this has got to be one of the toughest reviews and commentaries I've ever had to do.  

Frannie and I had never seen The Little River Band before ... but we both love their music (and have loved this music since it first found its way to America back in 1976).  

Between 1976 and 1985, The Little River Band placed 16 hits on Billboard's Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart.  These include 13 that made The Top 40 and SIX that made The Top Ten ... TIMELESS tunes like "Reminiscing", "Lady", "Lonesome Loser", "Happy Anniversary", "Take It Easy On Me" and others ... so we were quite excited to finally get to see them.  (The LRB has been playing the casino circuit quite a bit lately ... but this show was to be held at our regular hang-out, The Arcada Theatre ... and, purely by coincidence, we would be celebrating our very OWN Happy Anniversary the day after the show ... so we were REALLY looking forward to going!)  

HOW WERE THEY?:  Musically, they were outstanding ... great musicianship ... incredible harmonies ... they performed every hit you'd ever want to hear to rousing applause throughout the night.   

WHO WERE THEY?:  THIS is the question that has had me so perplexed this past week ... because right before we went to the show we received this disturbing email from a LRB fan from Australia:  

Hi Guys ... 
I always enjoy your news feeds and although I’m on the other side of the world, I still take a great interest in all your posts.
I notice that you’re listing shows by the ‘Little River Band’ (which I drove through just the other day), who started their careers in Melbourne Victoria. I’m not sure whether you realize it, but this band has nothing to do with the original band and merely features a US muso who was picked up to help with tours over there. He was smart enough to register the name (it's hard to believe that the original band or their management had never got around to doing that!) and now tours his version of LRB, while the original members are legally prohibited from performing under any version of that name.  
Here in Australia it is considered to be an act of treachery by that band member, and the whole episode has left a bad taste in the mouths of all the Australian musos concerned (original vocalist Glenn Shorrock was born in the UK, and so too were some of the other members)  
I’d be interested to know if this story is known in the US? 
Murray Walding, 

Well, it was news to me ... and I would suspect to most booking agents and venues as well, since these guys are regularly promoted as being the popular, hit-making band from Australia ... and refer to themselves that way as well.  Apparently, however, is no longer the case.  

For example, the ad for their appearance at The Arcada Theatre read as follows:   

The Little River Band is considered to be one of Australia’s most significant bands. Worldwide album and CD sales now top 30 million. They also set a record for having Top 10 hits for six consecutive years. The first band to achieve that mark. The Arcada Theatre is proud to present this extraordinary band! Get ready to hear all your favorite hits like: “Reminiscing,” “Take It Easy On Me,” “Help is On Its Way” and many more! 

But apparently the band that is currently touring America as The Little River Band cannot lay claim to ANY of these "facts" shown above ...   

Based on Murray's email, they had absolutely NOTHING to do with the recording of ANY of these hits ... 

And, incredibly, they're not even from Australia!!!  They're a bunch of Americans who, through some legal mumbo-jumbo acquired the rights to the band's name and are now out regularly performing (and impersonating) the band who REALLY accomplished all of the distinctions being touted above (all of which are regularly promoted in their advertising and booking information.)  And the worst part of all is that there's evidently NOTHING the original members can do about it!   

The fact that I had never heard ANY of this before makes me believe that there probably wasn't a fan in the audience who knew about any this ... nor did the band in ANY way suggest that they were anything other than the real deal.  (Where I found this most annoying ... knowing what I now knew ... was the way they told us how they were "celebrating our 39th year ... next year will be the big 40th anniversary of The Little River Band" ... or how "we cut this record back in 1982" ... when, in fact, NOTHING could be further from the truth.  NONE of these guys had ties that dated back 40 years ... and, based on Murray's email, I found it hard to believe that a single one of them had ever performed on ANY released Little River Band single ... Murray made it sound like these guys were "assembled" simply to cash in on the legacy of the original band's success ... and they had apparently found some under-handed legal way of doing so.  (They HAVE recorded some new material together, a couple of tunes of which they presented Sunday Night ... and they weren't bad ... actually ALL of these guys are extremely talented musicians and vocalists ... they're just NOT The Little River Band who originated from Australia ... and that's a deception that needs to be addressed ... by all appearances, NONE of these guys has ANY ties to any original member.)  So while legally on paper these guys may be "The Little River Band", they are, AT BEST, a tribute to The Little River Band with absolutely NO ties to the original band that recorded all these hits.  (Tracing their timeline, it looks like each member replaced replacements of replacements ... by the time they formed their own quintet in the early 2000's, ALL of the members were "new" to the LRB family tree.)  

To say we went into the concert feeling a bit cheated and disappointed is an understatement ... I had absolutely NO idea of what had transpired over the years, other than knowing that original lead singer Glenn Shorrock was no longer onboard.  As such, we naturally questioned in advance how they would sound without him ... but NEVER suspected that NONE of these members were original members of The Little River Band ... or that they'd been replaced by a group of AMERICANS purporting to be the popular band from Down Under.  

Here in the United States we have a Truth In Music Act which states that at least one original member must be present in order to perform using the band's original name ... or they must have the legal right to use that name ... which is what appears to be the case here.  Technically, that document allows them to do exactly what they're doing ... despite the fact that they are intentionally and maliciously deceiving the public and the long-time fans of the band.  
Checking the band's website, they give short bios about the current five members of the band, ALL of whom appear to have been born right here in The United States!  (So they're not "Australian" at all ... and advertising them as such is a real misnomer!)  In fact, it would seem that they have been misrepresenting themselves and their background to secure these gigs here in The States, all the while prohibiting any of the REAL original members of the band to seek work utilizing their true legacy ... and that's just wrong!     

EDITOR'S NOTE:  I have since learned that ONE current member, Greg Hind, WAS, in fact, born in Melbourne, Australia ... and that even the ORIGINAL Little River Band, circa 1976, only had one TRUE Australian member.      

The story goes that in the early '70's The Little River Band were having a tough time finding an audience in Australia ... so, much like The Bee Gees had done a decade before them, they headed off to England to see if they could catch their break there.  When that didn't happen, they set their sights on the United States ... some reports say they were brought over here to work as Jim Messina's back-up band ... and there may be some truth to that, as I've seen it mentioned in several places (but, oddly enough, NOT on Jim Messina's website where he traces his own bio and timeline).  By 1976, Loggins and Messina had pretty much called it quits ... but in less than a year, The Little River Band found themselves recording for Capitol Records and placing records on the charts ... so this part of the story is a little bit unclear.      

Bands change members all the time ... and truth be told, membership in The Little River Band can best be described as a revolving door ... I've counted close to thirty different members of this band over the past 40 years!  But the legal rights to the use of the name is always a sticky area.     

We've talked about the touring edition of The Grass Roots with no original members ... but original singer Rob Grill passed the group on to the current line-up.  "Paul Revere's Raiders" are touring now without their grand master, who passed away earlier this year ... but Paul bequeathed this title upon them ... and let's face it, a couple of these guys have been playing in Paul's band for upwards of 40 years.  Dammit, it THAT doesn't make you a Raider, what does?!?)  

Even a group as big as Chicago can only boast one original lead singer ... everyone else handling vocals from the stage joined the band along the way ... again, some (like Jason Scheff) have over 25 years with the group now ... and he does a mean Peter Cetera imitation ... the horn section is the only other "constant" linking the band back to their earliest days.  And nobody criticizes Chicago, right?  

This, however, seems to be an entirely DIFFERENT situation.  It would appear that this group of Americans has "hi-jacked" the name of a prominent source of music from the late '70's and early '80's, and through some legal manipulation has taken their place on the touring circuit.  That makes this a case of Rock And Roll Identity Theft at its finest example!    

As I stated earlier, we knew going in that original lead singer Glenn Shorrock was no longer involved with the band ... and you ALWAYS take a risk when you go and see a band perform live that may have the rights to the name, held by some of the more "incidental" members of the original band ... The Guess Who immediately come to mind since we just saw Burton Cummings this past weekend at the same venue ... I don't care if the drummer and bass player DO hold the rights to the name ... the SOUND of The Guess Who can be 100% credited to lead vocalist Burton Cummings, who wrote and sang every hit record the band ever had ... so, by choice, that's who WE'RE going to see ... not the "watered down" version that still plays in and around the area from time to time.  

Still, I wasn't satisfied ... the last thing I wanted to do was come out here and make a point about this deception without getting all of my facts in order first. 

If you visit the official Little River Band website, you'll find bios listed for each of the current band members ...  
Click here: Bios | LITTLE RIVER BAND 
As it turns out, ONE of these guys (lead vocalist and bassist Wayne Nelson) WAS, in fact, a member of The Little River Band from 1980 - 1996 ... and has been at the helm again since 1999 ... so the TRUTH is that Nelson has over thirty years under his belt as a bona fide member of the band.  Contrary to what was surmised above, he WAS with the band when they were still recording their hits ... in fact, that's him handling the lead vocal on their hits "The Night Owls", "Man On Your Mind" and "Take It Easy On Me".  In my book, this absolutely counts for something ... thirty years in The Little River Band makes him a REAL member of the band.  And he DID record with them during their hey-day.  The OTHER four members, however, have joined over the past fourteen years ... Greg Hind in 2000, Chris Marion in 2004, Rich Henning in 2005 and Ryan Ricks in 2012 ... so these guy are, at best, Nelson recruits brought on board to carry on the name ... with absolutely NO ties to the real band.

Truth be told (as pointed out earlier), the group had a revolving door of members ... there have been at least THIRTY musicians who can claim to have been ... at one time or another ... a member of The Little River Band ... so this DOES muddy up the water just a little bit!  (Members have included everyone from Peter Beckett, formerly of Player ... as well as late-addition sidemen from groups like The Doobie Brothers and Air Supply) ... and since each and every original member chose to walk away from the group at some point in time, I can understand how "legitimacy" can be (at best) a VERY gray area!!!  

As for the real deal, Joel Whitburn lists the history / personnel of the band as follows:  

Original members:  Glenn Shorrock, Rick Formosa, Beeb Birtles, Graham Goble, Roger McLachlan and Derek Pellicci   


McLachlan replaced by George McArdle in 1977  
Formosa replaced by David Briggs in 1978  
Shorrock replaced by John Farnham in 1983  
Briggs replaced by Steve Housden in 1983  
Pellicci replaced by Steven Prestwich in 1985  
Birtles replaced by David Hirschfelder in 1987  
Goble replaced by Peter Beckett in 1992  

Incredibly not one of the CURRENT members (including long-time member Wayne Nelson) are mentioned on this "official" list at all ... but neither is Stephen Housden, who at SOME point along the way acquired the rights to the band's name.  (He joined The Little River Band in 1981 and hung around for most of the time through 1999, when he decided to step away from performing.)  Although he no longer performs with the band, he DOES own the legal rights to the name ... and, as such, he is the one granting the current line-up the use of the name (for which I'm sure he's paid a handsome royalty of some sort.)  The Little River Band perform about a hundred dates a year, primarily here in The United States, to enthusiastic audiences who clearly are none the wiser!  

At various times over the past several years (2002 - 2007 in particular), some of the original members (Beeb Birtles, Glenn Shorrock, and Graeham Goble) HAVE gotten back together again for some reunion shows Down Under and in Europe ... however, because they are barred from using "The Little River Band" name, they have had to perform as "Birtles, Shorrock and Goble".  (Housden wouldn't allow them to use the name, as he already had his OWN version of the band out on the road in America).  Needless to say, these original, founding members were not too happy about this situation ... but Housden (who joined The LRB in 1981, five years AFTER these guys FORMED the band) owns the legal trademark to the name ... and there's not a thing they can do about it.  (Well, I guess they CAN let their feelings be known in their own way ... a few years ago, Graeham Goble released a single called "Someone's Taken Our History" and Beeb Birtles released one called "Revolving Door" ... so they're expressing their frustration in the manner to which they're best suited and most accustomed ... in song!  (Listen to these recordings and their true feelings about this very unpleasant situation come across loud and clear in a VERY biting way ... you will also hear the REAL sound of The Little River Band, millennium-style, as that basic "root" sound has never left them!)  

As for The Little River Band we saw Sunday Night, they were good ... genuinely good ... but it's hard for me to think of them as anything other than a TRIBUTE to The Little River Band ... especially since some of the original members are still out there, being prohibited from using their name.  To a degree, I feel like we are being forced to accept the group we saw based solely on a legal document granting them the rights to use the name ... rather than any true, genuine ties to the real band ... and I have a REAL problem with them presenting themselves as being The Little River Band from Australia when this simply isn't the case.  

In yet another slap in the face to the REAL band, these guys offer a link on their website featuring short snippets of The Little River Band's greatest hits.  ALL of which have been clearly re-recorded by the new guys (and none for the better, I might add), thus again attempting to erase any traces to the legacy of the band that actually wrote and recorded these tracks.  (I will say this, however ... when they presented these hits live in concert, they sounded INFINITELY better than these online snippets ... they're simply not very good ... and do not honor the band we all know and love ... if anything, these tracks tarnish the sound created by the original members.)  
Click here: Music | LITTLE RIVER BAND    

So what's the point of today's excessive rambling?  I guess it's more of a "Buyer Beware" scenario than anything else.  If you like the music of The Little River Band, then you will enjoy the way these guys present it live on stage.  If you're not wrapped up in the details and authenticity of the band's sound, you'll probably have a great time at their concert.  Like I said, they were really pretty good.  However, I just can't get past the fact that they're taking credit for the REAL band's past achievements when in fact they really had NOTHING at all to do with that success.  

Original lead singer Glenn Shorrock (who I contacted for this article but didn't respond in time for today's posting) will be touring right after the first of the year with Kenny Rogers throughout Australia and New Zealand.  (This is being billed as Kenny's "Farewell Tour" Down Under ... no official word yet on if he'll extend these farewell performance here in The States.)  As stated above, Shorrock can only perform using his own personal name ... no references to The Little River Band are allowed.  (At least here in America we've got a number of artists who regularly perform as "formerly of" or "former lead singer of" ... and, quite honestly, most of them are hassled from time to time by the sidemen who currently hold the rights to the group's name.  It's never a pretty picture ... or an amicable parting of the ways.)     

Meanwhile, here we have a complete version of the group consisting of nothing but second, third, fourth and fifth generation imposters who are not only getting away with deceiving the public ... but are already booked well into next year!!!)  I'm sorry ... but that just seems wrong to me ... so again, Buyer Beware!  (kk)

 The Little River Band - circa, 2014