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Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 34


Welcome back to another week of Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold! Before I get started – anybody see The Simpsons a couple of weeks ago, where Homer becomes a fireman? Mellow Gold Alert: there’s a montage with Homer near the end of the episode, and “Sad Eyes” by Robert John is playing. Could it be? Are The Simpsons producers reading this website? Definitely not. But I was still excited.

Anyway, on to the wuss music! This week, I chose a song that doesn’t really need much snarking. It’s simply a great song that always puts a smile on my face, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s from a band that we’ve previously unearthed from the mines!

Little River Band – Lady (download)

We last talked about Little River Band back in Mellow Gold #9. I’m sure you all go back and review those entries on a daily basis, but in case you’ve forgotten:

Hailing from Australia (which you’d never know from the vocals, clearly influenced by the music of the west coast), Little River Band originated as a band called Mississippi, but found that Australians didn’t seem to care for a band with such an American name. A street sign on their way to a gig in Australia influenced them to change their minds. Already huge in Australia, the band attempted to make it big in the UK, but were met with general indifference (much like other Australian bands at the time). Their manager, however, already had a strong sense of the American industry, and decided to set the band’s sights on the States.

Little River Band flourished in America: they became the first Australian band to truly hit it big, and sustain that success, in the United States. Between 1978 and 1982, the band had six consecutive singles in the Top 10, which at the time made them the only band – period – to claim such a feat. While their single “Lady” remains their best-selling single to date, “Reminiscing” was their highest charter, peaking at #5.

“Lady” reached #10 and stayed on the charts for an impressive 14 weeks. In my previous entry, I declared “Reminiscing” to be my favorite, but now that I’m paying attention to “Lady”, I’m not sure. “Reminiscing” is definitely a cooler song musically, with fantastic chords (I know, ’cause I can’t play ’em), but “Lady” has so much going for it. It starts off all smooth, light guitar and piano, and then slowly builds into a song that actually kinda rocks. LRB throws in some strings, a little bit of guitar, and before we know it, we’re groovin’ into the chorus in something that almost feels….rock-ish. Crazy, I know! It does this multiple times. It’s some kind of mellow deception, I tell you. Actually, I’ll give most of the credit to the bassline, which seems to set the tone for the rest of the instruments – especially in that chorus. And at one point, there’s even some other percussion that I think actually is a fucking woodblock.

And how about these lyrics? They’re definitely mellow; only a true wimp could write “feel for the winter but don’t have a cold heart” and not burst out laughing afterwards. And did I mention that the name of the song is “Lady”? If we’ve been over it once, we’ve been over it a thousand times: when we’re deep in the mines, a telltale sign that we’ve struck mellow gold is a song calling a female “woman” or “lady.” Ever tried to say this out loud, by the way? Doesn’t work. (Trust me.)

However, let’s give some credit to songwriter Graeham Goble: remember back when we talked about “Reminiscing” and those double-edged lyrics? He writes this wonderful story about looking back on life and then twists the knife by stating “oh, the times we’re missing spending the hours reminiscing.” Well, Goble does something similar here: he expresses a sweet, genuine sentiment, but can’t help but throw a wink at us as well. I know, because this little wink got me into some trouble the other day.

So all through the weekend, I was singing this song. Couldn’t help it: the sun was shining, I was grilling in the backyard, I was in a great mood. So I’m singing the song to my wife, and get to the chorus (which, as we previously mentioned, is the best part). I sing the first line:

So lady, let me take a look at you now
You’re there on the dance floor making me want you somehow

Only problem is, the look I’m getting from my wife is one of those “you’re in the doghouse” looks. I can’t figure out why until she points out to me that “you’re there on the dance floor making me want you somehow” is actually relatively insulting – you know, like “it’s unbelievable that a beast like you could actually turn me on.” I tried to dig myself out of the hole by continuing:

Lady, I think it’s only fair I should say to you
Don’t be thinking that I don’t love you, ’cause maybe I do

Thanks, Little River Band. You ruined my Sunday.

So these lyrics are kinda sucky. I guess I never noticed it because of those stellar harmonies. Shit, change it to “lady, let me throw a book at you now” and I’ll still feel the same way about the awesomeness of this song.

Like many other bands of this era and genre, Little River Band experienced their share of personnel changes. In 1981, lead singer Glenn Shorrock left the group (or was fired, depending on who you ask), and was replaced by fellow Australian John Farnham. Farnham was primarily known in his home country for a novelty single called “Sadie (The Cleaning Lady)” and had recently hired LRB’s manager to take charge of his career. Farnham eventually had his own dramas with Little River Band, and went on to create his own unbelievably successful career in his home country – but that’s a story for another Mellow Gold entry. I mention him here because, in my mind, he furthered the mellow deception: his unbelievable voice helped turn some of their smoothest songs – including “Lady” – into rockers.

A few days ago, I was perusing YouTube and came across FritzRitz’s extensive LRB/Farnham collection. Included was a live version of “Lady,” audio only, that blew my mind. (Let’s not think about how sad it is that this song blew my mind.) I asked nicely and FritzRitz generously sent me the song to share with all of you. There are two noticeable skips in the song, which are a bummer, to be sure, but I don’t think it’ll take away from your general enjoyment of the song.

Little River Band (with John Farnham) – Lady (live) (download)

Rockin’, right? Check out some of the other videos on YouTube with LRB featuring Farnham, while I go searching for a live bootleg featuring this incarnation of the band. Farnham’s voice impresses the hell out of me. I don’t recommend you listen to his version of “Reminiscing” – a bit too much on the vocal gymnastics for my taste – but when I eventually convince my band that we must cover “Lady,” this is the version I’m sending them. Well, I’d throw the piano back in. But other than that, this song is perfect. I plan on listening to it all summer. I feel bad for those around me.

See you next week for another Adventure Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold! Thanks for reading!

  • You don’t like John’s version of Reminiscing?
    ARE YOU NUTS???!!!
    Vocal gymnastics yes….but he’s GREAT at it.


  • Since you mentioned the Simpsons/Mellow Gold cross, it reminded me of something.  Not sure if it was yet mentioned in these pages elsewhere.  Just in case it hasn’t, get ready.
    "I’ve Never Been to Me" was used as source music in Shrek the Third.
    A wicked witch of some sort was singing it, karaoke style, in the bar where all the villains hang out.  Hilarious.
    Oh, and thanks for the terrific LRB post.  They are an old friend from my Ford Pinto days, when I only had AM radio in the car.  Never thought 30 years later I’d be obtaining live versions of their songs and listening with a smile.

  • The Simpsons have a strong Mellow Gold pedigree. (e.g. "Missing Children hotline, please hold (Baby Come Back! Any kinda fool could see!)")
    As far as LRB goes. Reminiscing and Lady are all well and good, but you have to do Cool Change: the limpest song outside of FireFall.
    The following are actual lyrics from Cool Change:
    Well I was born in the sign of water
    And it’s there that I feel my best
    The albatross and the whales
    they are my brothers
    It’s kind of a special feeling
    When you’re out on the sea alone
    Starin’ at the full moon
    like a lover
    The albatross and whales…they are his brothers. Dear GOD.

  • Dude, I was listening to "Cool Change" this morning.  I think I could probably do a good two months of nothing but Little River Band.  I had no idea how awesome they were.

  • Jason:
    You’re absolutely right about the insta-mellowness of the word "Lady" in a song. I think one is basically forced to write a mellow god song if they decide to throw that word into the mix. I think an awsome mashup would be to create a dance mix of this song, Lady by Styx, and Lady by Kenny Rogers.
    Speaking of Lady, one song I have been OBSESSED with the past few weeks has been George Benson’s "Lady Love Me (One More Time)", which has to be one of the pantheons of Mellow Gold. You’ve got not only Lady in the title, you’ve got those parenthesis in the title that make it sound like the singer is Oliver, asking for a bit more gruel. You have not one, but two key changes in the song, and a flute solo(!)–All piled up nice and high on a rhythmic, smooth-jazz style Mellow beat. This HAS to be a future ATTMOMG. If you aren’t able to do it, I’ll even guest write it. This is how important this song is in the pantheons of smooth mellowness!!

  • Did I just write "mellow god song"? Yes I did.
    I guess an example of that would be "You Light Up My Life".

  • Dave P

    A couple years back, I suggested to a pop-music-loving friend of mine that the Little River Band were Australia’s answer to the Eagles. Without missing a beat, my friend said that if they ever reunited with their original lineup and recorded a live album, it’d have to be called “Hell Freezes Under.”


  • mike a

    "You’re there on the dancefloor making me want you somehow" is more vague than it is insulting, a la "Feelings."
    Let’s not forget "Lonesome Loser," whose name is practically begging for a Mellow Gold tribute act to be built around it.

  • I think your wife is mistaken. The lady on the dance floor isn’t some beast, she’s his ex. She’s some cool lady that he loved a long time ago who tore his heart into tiny pieces, but insists on flaunting her excellentness in front of him on the dance floor… probably her wedding day, because she’s just that ruthless to invite her ex to her wedding just to taunt him. And since he’s such a schmo… he goes to the damn wedding because they’re “friends”. Idiot! Fool’s going home all broken hearted to an empty apartment and a six pack of Mickey’s big mouth while she’s off marrying some rich dude with a yacht.

    Or something like that.

    Anyway, this song is my favorite of the LRB. The harmonies are superb. Nice post, Jason.

  • David

    Australia’s Eagles. That is brilliant. Somehow, it makes LRB seem cooler to me, while taking the Eagles down a good couple of notches. I’m fine with both.

    Don’t forget “Man on Your MInd” and “The Other Guy” when compiling the master list of LRB’s loser paeans. And “Take It Easy on Me.” Great, great song. (And, upon reflection, very Eagle-y titled.)

    “A *fucking* woodblock,” Jason? Sounds like a prop in a Sharon Stone movie.

  • Don’t start with me, WoodBlock.

    I actually have all of those LRB songs on the list.  Methinks I need to delve further into the masterworks of this band.

  • Jessica

    Ohh, Malchus. You’re not married, are you? Otherwise you’d know that I couldn’t *possibly* be mistaken. :DAnd if I say that line is rather insulting, then dammit, it is. Don’t get me started on Extreme and More Than Words again!

  • Well, the biggest problem with the lyrics is just how clueless they are. "You’re there on the dancefloor making me want you somehow"? Replace the first half with ANY rhyme and it still fits. "You’re there at the drug store, making me want you somehow". "You’re stumping for Al Gore, making me want you somehow". "You’re filthy, you’re dirt poor, making me want you somehow". In essence, males are horny. Quantifying the horniness is wasted time. DwD

  • Dave P

    And in keeping with the idea of LRB as Australia’s Eagles, isn’t “The Other Guy” basically a poor man’s “Heartache Tonight”? Maybe a little?

  • I was shopping once while "Lady" was piped through the store and let me tell you, it was stuck in my head for WEEKS. There’s something ridiculous *and* compelling about that song. Could be the plodding bassline as mentioned in your post; definitely the weird lyrics that imply, "Hey, don’t fret, *I* still think you’re cute." The comment about the guy seeing his ex at her wedding might explain so much.
    Every time I hear "Lady" I think of the great, cancelled Judd Apatow series "Freaks and Geeks." There was an episode featuring the worst, most mellow song ever written, "Lady L." The performance of this song resulted in Seth Rogen smashing an acoustic guitar to pieces in the middle of the street while on the way to a Who concert. Great show. Thanks for your blog–very good stuff.

  • Zoinks, I didn’t think Jason’s wife would pipe in.

    Jessica, I am very married. I guess I’ll play the song for my wife and see what she thinks.

    “More Than Words”? Really? Now I have to go listen.

  • Okay, I listened to “More Than Words”. I see your point.

  • I’m with you, Scott.  I didn’t think she’d even read the entry, let alone comment!

    If you can come up with a pro-"More Than Words" argument, I’ll be forever in your debt.

  • (dammit!)

  • Jessica

    Nyah, nyah, nyahnyah nyaaaah!Ahem. Sorry, go back to Ladying it up.

  • Jeremy

    If I look up "Mellow Gold" in the dictionary, I might see a picture of the Pablo Cruise logo, but that same dictionary has a picture of the Little River Band on the front cover.

  • Aah, the woodblock – the grey eminence of ‘70s music. You know, there even was a festival. The Woodblock Festival of ’78 has been idealized in the American popular culture as the “Culmination of the Mellow” — a free festival where nearly 500 "wuss kids" came together to celebrate. Given the number of people and conditions involved, the festival was remarkably peaceful.
    The Woodblock Festival did have some rudeness and other non-mellow misbehavior, as well as a fatality from hesitation, an accidental death caused by exaggerated empathy and one participant died from falling in love. There were also three failed come-ons and two successful ones recorded at the event and colossal logistical headaches.
    Yet, in tune with the mellow moods of 1970s popular music, The Woodblock Festival satisfied most attendees. Especially memorable were the sense of harmony, the quality of the flute solos, and the overwhelming gentleness of the people, many sporting corduroy, beards, and neat sweaters.

  • Matthew Bolin mentioned George Benson’s "Lady Love Me (One More Time)" and "smooth mellowness" which I interpret to mean R&B Quiet Storm Mellowness.  Will you ever showcase any of these songs?  There are plenty of gems out there like You Should Be Mine (The Woo Woo Song) by Jeffrey Osborne and You Are My Lady by Freddie Jackson to name a few.BTW, I have been listening to LRB nonstop since yesterday.  They really are a band that deserves more respect and appreciation!

  • Pete

    I owned a copy of the LRB’s "Greatest Hits" on cassette back in the late 80s, and since that time I had somehow convinced myself the only song I really needed to be acquainted with was "Reminiscing" (which is one of my all-time faves in the mellow gold canon)….until earlier this year, when my best friend Nate made me a mix that had "Lady" on it. I too, Jason, found myself exploring the other LRB hits and being pleasantly surprised at what great pop it is. Now I’m curious if there are any hidden gems on the original albums, but until then I’ll be picking up a LRB best of CD.

  • A Woodblock

    Will you people leave me the fuck alone already? Sheesh.

  • Bravo, Terje – hysterical!

    Ben – good question about the subgenre of R&B Mellow Gold.  I’m not sure I have enough knowledge to cover them, but then again, that hasn’t stopped met yet, so I’d say it’s a possibility.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s enjoying LRB overall!  I’m currently groovin’ to FritzRitz’s clips.  Like this one.  And this one.

  • David

    “A Woodblock” two replies up is not THE WoodBlock, fyi.

    I spare my vitriol for Chart Attacks, not my fellow mellow travellers.

  • ‘Shit, change it to "lady, let me throw a book at you now"’this lady is laughing.and this lady would probably like the song BETTER than the original. but i do love me some LRB.  saw them LIVE in Atlanta like 6 years ago??!it was pret-ty, pret-ty good.

  • jhensy

    I just realized somehing!
    Coldplay. "Clocks". STOLEN! From "Lady"! Even the woodclock part sounds like a ticking clock! Sorta!

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  • LRB’s live version of "It’s a Long Way There" from "The Net" tour is exceptional. That might be Farnham’s best vocal with the band.There’s another Australian singer named Irwin Thomas (former lead singer of Southern Sons) who sounds like a young Farnham.

  • Terje’s Woodblock Festival comment was hilarious, and English isn’t even the guy’s first language. Quit making the rest of us look bad, Terje!

    Ah, “Freaks and Geeks.” Such a good show. I definitely want to see “Knocked Up,” which is getting rave reviews. Didn’t Jason Segel’s character serenade Linda Cardellini in one episode with Styx’s “Lady”?

    “Lady Love Me (One More Time)” is definitely mellow. I used to work with a guy who could recite lyrics to songs from memory, and “Lady Love Me” was one of the songs he could repeat word for word. That doesn’t sound too impressive until you realize how hard it is to recite lyrics in front of other people. Sure, I can recall song lyrics when I’m by myself, but it ain’t so easy when others are listening, and this guy knew the words to tons of songs. The human memory is a funny thing.

    I wonder what years R&B Mellow Gold covers as a viable genre. This is worth researching!

    I listened to “Lady” before reading this post, and the line about “making me want you SOMEHOW” did strike me as odd. Tie it in with “The Lady in Red” on last week’s Chart Attack! and you have pretty much the same narrator for both songs: “You look so amazing right now, my darling. Huh … why is that? Because usually you’re just a Plain Jane. But I gotta tell you — right now I am SO horny!”

  • Stephen

    In my younger years, when I wasn’t as knowledgable about music, everytime someone mentioned Styx’s "Lady," I thought it was this song. Then I came to find out there were TWO different songs, which made it even better, but LDB’s is far superior. By the way, at least some of these dudes are still together (Birtles, Horrock and Goble, the name just rolls off the tongue) and they asked to be my friend on myspace:   http://www.myspace.com/birtlesshorrockgoble 

  • Irwin Thomas is better known by his “stage name” when he was with Southern Sons….and that name was Jack Jones. Irwin/Jack is American though.
    There is also another GREAT Aussie singer….again out of Melbourne…again a former singer for the Little River Band….his name is Steve Wade. He was on Graham Goble’s two solo releases called “Stop” and “Nautalus”. He is a brilliant singer. A “funky” example of Steve Wade’s earlier career can be found here:

    Here is Jack Jones and Tommy Emmanuel doing Imagine:

  • Funny that you mention Tommy – I was just listening to a version of "Reminiscing" featuring him and Shorrock.  Unfortunately, it’s all smooth jazz-y, but Shorrock sounds fantastic.

    I’m seeing Tommy in concert this Sunday.  Can’t wait.

  • Leslie

    I was cracking up reading this post about the song "Lady".  I love that song but your situation in the backyard with your wife was so funny.  Great story. Leslie

  • I saw Tommy Emmanuel within the last few months…great show. I saw him in a church and believe it or not the church didn’t collapse in around me and it is still standing today…:):)

  • Ginny

    Okay, it’s been almost 2 weeks and this song is STILL stuck in my head. Good thing I like it. Reminds me of early HS years.

  • My work here is done.