First Under The Wire

Little River Band

Capitol, 1979

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


As somewhat generic seventies/eighties rock bands go, the Little River Band isn’t particularly notable. An Australian import, they relied on hook-laden songs and vocal harmonies reminiscent of the Eagles at their best. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but let’s face it; it doesn’t make for notable, earth-shattering works of rock and roll art.

Thus, there is a reason that LRB does not appear in the more than 11,000 music reviews that grace the hallowed archives of the Daily Vault. However, I’ve decided to change that. I mean, they’ve sold 30 million albums and had nine American top 20 hits. They even had a number one (“Help Is On The Way,” for you music geeks), which is more than Styx can say—and Valhalla knows we’ve spent a decent number of column inches on them.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

At any rate…

Nineteen seventy-nine might be considered the peak of LRB’s success, so we’re going to focus the lens on their release from that year, First Under The Wire.

First impressions? These lads fit right in the niche occupied by the Doobie Brothers (Michael McDonald era) and the Eagles. Every track drips with well-sung harmonies; songs like “By My Side” mine the territory of blues-rock effectively. The two hits off the album, “Lonesome Loser” and “Cool Change,” were deserving of their chart success; “Lonesome” punches you right in the face at the beginning with arching harmony, and “Cool Change” is a successful tribute to sailing and the water.

(You know, you could do an entire playlist of sailing songs from the late ’70s and early ’80s.)

Nevertheless, the weakness of First is that the music is so generic and chameleon-like. Songs like “The Rumor,” “Hard Life” and “Middle Man” are forgotten as soon as the track ends, and “It’s Not A Wonder” fails utterly in taking the band in a hard-rock direction. The less said about “Mistress Of Mine,” the better. Other than the two singles, the rest of the album seems calculated, ephemeral, and in the end forgettable, laden with seventies musical cliches.

Is First Under The Wire bad? No. Bad is too strong a word. What it is, though, is a perfect musical example of “Out of sight, out of mind.” There’s no real substance to it, and unless you are a great fan of this genre, it’s not worth spending time on.

Rating: C

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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