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"What have you got when it's over and done,
a pain in your back and a curse on your tongue.
You know in your heart when they add up the score,
they get the glory but you won the war."
GLENN SHORROCK has been in colors most of his life. Drafted as an adolescent, he re-enlisted so many times that he became a career soldier, a 'lifer' before he released it. He served with valor in Australian, English, European and American campaigns. His name has passed into legend, synonymous with unstinting dedication and stirring achievement.
As he enters his fourth decade of performing and recording, this battle scarred veteran observes that "Circles close up ten years or more after they begin. Early influences become recent influences. Old incidents become new songs." GLENN has traversed a series of circuitous routes during the past twenty years and, although he has worked and recorded all over the planet, there is a familiar thread of honesty and excellence to all he has done.
This anthology is a powerful testament, not just GLENN'S fine talent, but to his own belief in that talent. His tenacity, which sent him knocking on international doors so many times before they were opened to him, was shared by only a few other Australian rock principals of the sixties - TERRY BRITTEN, BARRY GIBB, STEVE KIPNER and GEORGE YOUNG among them.
Born in Rochester Kent in 1944, GLENN arrived in Australia with his family a decade later, as an assisted-passage immigrant. Blessed with the legacy of good humor from his Yorkshire father and Londoner mother, he saw the sea journey to the far southern land as "a hell of adventure". As he recalls clearly, "We saw a future in Australia but not in England, where post-war rationing was still in force. Australia was like a color movie, not a bit like gray old England."
"We were booked through to Melbourne but after Perth they said they were short on their Adelaide quota and wanted volunteers. So dad said, 'What the hell, let's go to Adelaide'. The first sight of the city was horrific, it was like Changi Prison. The seaport was a long shed set in a mangrove swamp. Mother cried for nine months straight. I went to sleep with her crying and woke up to her crying. But dad dug his heels in and got a job at the Weapons Research Establishment in Salisbury and found us a house there."
GLENN'S mother took her son and daughter back to England for nine months, then decided to return and give it another chance. In time, the family prospered and moved to the Adelaide suburb of Elizabeth, populated heavily by British immigrants. GLENN, by this stage, was obsessed by rock'n'roll. Back in England he had listened to FRANKIE LAINE and JOHNNIE RAY records on his auntie's radiogram but his trembling conversion came at the Elder Park Migrant Hostel [on the site of the present Festival Theatre]. "I had some friends and we'd sing in the car, drive-in or wherever. There was Mike Sykes, Paddy McCartney and bass singer Billy Volraat. We worked engagement parties as THE CHECKMATES and then, when Billy left, became THE TWILIGHTS. We worked a-capella a lot. We couldn't do rock'n'roll because we didn't have a backing band, but if we were at a party where there was a band we'd always get up and sing."
"Then The Beatles broke and everything went crazy. Some friends had a band called The Vector-Men, which included Alan Tarney, and we worked with them for a while. Then we started singing with The Hurricanes, which was Kevin Peek, Peter Brideoake, John Bywaters, Frank Barnard and lead vocalist John Perry, who went to The Vibrants and is now Kerry Packer's chauffeur. Perry got edged out, we dropped Mike Sykes and all became The Twilights. Kevin Peek left to join Alan Tarney in Johnny Broome & The Handels and we got his number one admirer, Terry Britten, in to replace him. Before very much longer we were resident at the Oxford Club, there were lines around the blocks, and Garry Spry flew over from Melbourne to ask if he could manage us. There were a lot of bands in Adelaide then and the rivalry and jealousy was pretty fierce. All of them seemed to have at least a couple of British members, to make them authentic. This was a way for us to get back at those who saw us as 'dirty poms'; it was a chance to feel better about ourselves."
THE TWILIGHTS existed from 1964 to 1969, recorded 13 singles and two albums, scored eight consecutive hits [some double-sided], won the 1966 Hoadley's National Battle of the Sounds, recorded and performed in England, and set new standards for live performance in Australia. THE TWILIGHTS live were an awesome spectacle, capable of creating note-perfect renditions of any songs by THE BEATLES, STONES, MOVE, WHO et. al. They were Australia's international music barometer. Absolutely and irrevocably in, they anticipated and introduced audiences to each new phase of rock music and culture. In Time, they outgrew their own market and joined the lemmings' rush to London in September 1966. They fared no better than NORMIE ROW, JOHNNY YOUNG, MPD LTD., GROOVE or LA DE DA but did get to record with 'Rubber Soul' engineer Norman 'Hurricane' Smith and performed at Liverpool's Cavern.
THE TWILIGHTS came back from London replete with new influences, droopy moustaches, sitars, trendy beards and Carnaby Street clobber. They took to playing 15 minute versions of Hendrix' Purple Haze [during which GLENN would climb into a gorilla suit and chase faint-hearted ladies through the audience] and cutting increasingly complex singles which enjoyed progressively less radio support. When LAURIE PRYOR refused to have another crack at England in December 1968 and decided to take his leave instead, THE TWILIGHTS suddenly ceased to exist.
"The breakup of The Twilights was not something that we planned. It all happened in three days," GLENN reveals. "I didn't know what to do with myself, so Gary Spry gave me a job as a band booker in the AMBO agency. That's how I met The Brisbane Avengers, who wanted me to manage them. I gave it a shot for about three months; got Terry to write them some songs and pushed all the work I could their way. But it never felt right. I'd rehearse with them, take them to gigs, get them on the stage and then have to stop there. I never did have the chance to prove if I was a good manager or not, because after about three months, I ran into BRIAN CADD at a party."
CADD, leader of the defunct Group, had written songs for THE MASTER'S APPRENTICES, ZOOT and PAUL JONES, and was keen to develop an outlet for his collaborations with DON MUDIE. The three enlisted CAM-PACT guitarist CHRIS STOCKLEY and VALENTINES drummer DOUG LAVERY and were, not surprisingly, labeled as a 'Supergroup' in the same manner as THE GROOVE [Spry's post-TWILIGHTS hit act]. With an old roadie mate [the late] WAYNE DeGRUCHY, AXIOM hid out at DON'S mother's place in Nathalia for a couple of weeks and furiously emulated THE BAND and TRAFFIC by rehearsing at the local football club in rural isolation.
AXIOM's success was almost a foregone conclusion. Manager DeGRUCHY had no difficulty finding them work; they were immediately offered a recording contract and found instant radio acceptance for a Christmas 1969 single, the unashamedly American Arkansas Gras. 'Fool's Gold', the first album, was the soundtracks to a 20 minute film starring HAPPENING '70 personality TOM HEALEY and dealing with the release of an elderly man from prison. It was also the first truly important and accomplished Australian rock album, offering an honest antipodean sound [GLENN played some dideridoo] without descending to kangaroo and cork hat kitsch. A second single, A Little Ray Of Sunshine, was, in GLENN'S own words, "pure schmaltz". But the poorly recorded track possessed a certain magic which propelled it into both the national top five and innumerable sentimental hearts.
Recording the beautiful 'Fool's Gold' album was 'unadulterated joy' for GLENN, as the superb title track and Ford's Bridge attest. But the euphoria was short-lived. In April 1970, AXIOM arrived in a creatively exhausted England, still spending the money flowing in from British Invasion but offering little more to the world than burned-out hippies and heavy metal hammerheads. There were advances to be had and AXIOM landed one large enough to keep them alive for a year, along with a three year Warner Bros. Recording contract. Handed to ill producer, SHEL TALMY, of KINKS, THE WHO and EASYBEATS fame [who by that stage was suffering from failing eyesight and hearing] cut a second album under engineer GLYN JOHNS. The title, 'If Only ...', said it all. The harsh, uncomfortable album yielded up one minor hit in My Baby's Gone and is not remembered fondly by any of the participants or purchasers.
(B. Cadd/D. Mudie)
"My confidence was pretty low," says GLENN. "When the band decided to go back to Australia for the second time, I said 'goodbye, I'm staying here'. Like a lot of other people at the time, I was trying to find myself. My marriage had broken up and I was heavily into meditation, macrobiotic food and all that. I was looking around for something to do and Garry Spry, who was over there with THE GROOVE (Eureka Stockade), came to my aid again. At that time I was hanging out with other Australians, like The Master's Apprentices, and that's how my relationship with Glenn Wheatley began. Garry managed to get me a deal with the management/record company MAM, which was owned by Gordon Mills, the manager of Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck and Gilbert O'Sullivan. I negotiated a good contract which paid me a weekly wage rather than a big advance."
Signed to MAM's publishing arm [which was to eventually prove rather profitable for them], GLENN recorded a considerable number of demos but only three singles. Into the picture had stepped TWILIGHTS producer DAVID McKAY, who was also based in London; and the Decca group Quartet, which comprised former Adelaide comrades TERRY BRITTEN, KEVIN PEEK [now leader of SKY], ALAN TARNEY and TREVOR SPENCER. The first single cut by this collective, stiffed [perhaps because he didn't have a live band together] but the second, MANN & WEILS'S lovely Rock 'n' Roll Lullaby, at least picked up reasonable airplay. GLENN describes the flip, When God Plays His Guitar, as a "pretty good indication of where my head was at around that time."
Another SHORROCK MAM single, the mock-French Purple Umbrella, was recorded under the alias of ANDRÉ L'ESCARGOT & HIS SOCIETY SYNCOPATERS.
The most important event in GLENN'S career at this point was his move, at the very end of the AXIOM days, into serious songwriting. It stands as extraordinary that a number of his very first compositions are today considered as among his best. Writing gave a new dimension to the accomplished singer, enabling him to achieve the sort of soulful, heartfelt expression which would reach its zenith with Cool Change and Home On Monday.
"Statue Of Liberty was inspired by the closing scenes of the film 'Planet Of The Apes'. I wrote it at a time when America was looking decidedly shaky and in danger of real anarchy. Kent State seemed like just a beginning. I had this vision of the Statue of Liberty crumbling." The song, recorded only as a demo for MAM, found release [for the first time] in 1973, via another DAVID McKAY project.
"David told me he had a new project and he wanted me to front - a classical rock band that would be much more avant-garde than ELO. He played me a some tapes and it was really left-of-field stuff. But it was a challenge and A&M was right behind it, so I went in boots and all. ESPERANTO was billed as 'the world's first international rock orchestra'". An unwieldy 12 piece outfit, it boasted members from Italy, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, England and Hawaii. The antipodean contingent was GLENN, JANICE SLATER, BRIAN HOLLOWAY [from SOMEBODY'S IMAGE] and MAORI singer JOY YATES. GLENN sang and co-wrote two songs with Belgian leader RAYMOND VINCENT and contributed his own Statue Of Liberty. Unfortunately, despite of all the hype, the public just didn't buy ESPERANTO, and by the second album, GLENN was credited only with 'lyrics, backing vocals and ideas'; by the third he was gone completely. "They made me manager for a while because they wanted to go completely avant-garde and then instrumental. But it was a complete mess, half the band lived in London and half in Brussels and I couldn't even get them together for a meeting. So that last year in England I was really depressed. My hair was falling out and I decided to quit. I was still getting my weekly wage from MAM and Terry Britten got me some vocal sessions and a couple of months' live work with CLIFF RICHARD. I made good money working at the London Palladium with CLIFF, eight shows a week. After the first night they came to me and said 'you were great Glenn, in fact you were too good, cool it'. I was making an amazing (for me) £100 a week for that, so I decided to stash it away and buy a ticket back to Australia."
"I booked a seat for October, 1974. I had no idea what I was going to do there. I thought I'd get involved in agency or management work. I didn't know what my musical credibility would be after five years away. About a month before I left England, I got a call from BEEB BIRTLES, who was living in a house in London with the remnants of MISSISSIPPI, who I'd never heard of. He said they wanted to talk to me about starting a group and I said 'no thanks, I've had enough, I need to get out of this business for a while.' But they were very persuasive and they had some great songs, so I jutted my jaw, gritted my teeth and said I'd get involved, if they'd give me a couple of months to go home and be with my family. We all agreed to meet in Melbourne early in 1975."
MISSISSIPPI had grown out of GRAEHAM GOBLE Adelaide soft-rock group ALISON GROS [who had scored the 1971 hit Daddy Cool as DRUMMOND]. Floundering in England, members GOBLE, BIRTLES and DEREK PELLICCI had begun to formulate ambitious plans for world musical domination with MASTER'S APPRENTICES bassist GLENN WHEATLEY, who was proving to be more interested in the business side of music. They saw SHORROCK as a proven and respected singer. What they were not to know was that he had a head full of completed songs, such as Seine City, Emma and Statue Of Liberty, all of which would be cut by LITTLE RIVER BAND in their first year of recording.
Named after a signpost on the road from Melbourne to Geelong, LITTLE RIVER BAND snared classically-trained guitarist/arranger RICK FORMOSA and bassist ROGER McLACHLAN from the Australian GODSPELL CAST. Their aim, as highly competent adult rock musicians, was to create a textured, harmony-dominant, mass-appeal sound. Within an eight months period, LRB had three top twenty singles, two top ten albums, and a collective eye firmly set upon the lucrative American market. This assault, GLENN'S third, had all the pieces in the right places. In November 1976, and edited version of It's A Long Way There made its way into the American top thirty and Dutch top ten. The following year, GLENN'S powerful Help Is On Its Way broke worldwide, made the U.S. top twenty and cracked AM playlists. The third album, 'Diamantina Cocktail', sold over half a million units stateside, earning LRB their first gold disc, the first to be awarded to an Australian-based entity. American hits flowed regularly and by 1982, Billboard had given LRB the honor, along with OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN, of being the only act to score an American top ten hit every year consecutively for the previous five years. This was an addition to a string of gold and platinum albums. American acceptance of the sophisticated LRB sound was immediate; surprising GLENN, who admits, "International success may have been the stated aim of Wheatley, Goble and Birtles but Glenn Shorrock went along for the ride. I'd been disappointed too many times ... I'm always suspicious of happiness. But the first American performance was definitely an eye opener. We supported the AVERAGE WHITE BAND in the college town of Harrisburg, Virginia and the crowd went nuts. They gave us two encores. That was amazing, but none of us then realized the enormity of the market."
In February 1982, GLENN took his leave from LITTLE RIVER BAND and was replaced by fellow English-born Adelaide singer JOHN FARNHAM. His departure was something less than a surprise for those who had observed the band during his seven year tenure. For GLENN it was, in many ways, a blessed release. "I had a strong feeling that it was not going to be peaches and cream from my first rehearsal in 1975. After two weeks we knew just three songs - we knew them bloody well but we still only knew three. I thought we should have known 23, so we could be out there working, honing our technique live. Graham and Beeb worked obsessively on points of detail, they wanted to dismember everything and put it back together, piece by piece. That frustrated me, I wanted to move, move, move. It led to a bit of a blue in rehearsal and they said, 'Glenn, back off, this is our baby and this is how we're gonna do the thing'. I backed off and I seemed to keep backing off all the way through. Graham always worked harder at getting his songs recorded than I did and I don't think I exerted as much influence on the band as I should have. I left it to fate, because that's the way I am. But then got to the stage where I had to fight to get Cool Change on an album".
GLENN had enjoyed moderate success in 1979 with a solo rendition of BOBBY DARIN'S Dream Lover, and in 1981 LRB single, Long Jumping Jeweler [never released outside of Australia] was very much a SHORROCK initiated and promoted project. So the move from LRB frontman to individual entity was a relatively effortless one. GLENN enthusiastically embarked upon a number of projects, starting with a superb solo album 'Villain Of The Peace'; recorded in Los Angeles under LRB producer and close friend JOHN BOYLAN, and featuring contributions from three members of THE EAGLES, BILL PAYNE [LITTLE FEAT], JEFF BAXTER [STEELY DAN/THE DOOBIE BROTHERS], GARTH HUDSON [THE BAND], JIMMY FADDEN [DIRT BAND], ANDREW GOLD and TOM SCOTT. The American release featured three newly recorded songs, one of which [Don't Girls Get Lonely] is included on GLENN'S 'The First Twenty Years'. From those sessions, The Duchess Is Returning emerged as a single B side and Big Smoke was, until 'The First Twenty Years', unreleased.
To support the album's release in Australia, GLENN undertook a short tour with his own hot road band. He also joined RENEE GEYER on stage at Sydney's Tivoli in December 1982 for a soaring rendition of the Goffin/King masterpiece Goin' Back, which archived some chart success when released as a single. Having previously supplied a title song to the television documentary 'Australian Music To The World', GLENN was approached to provide themes for the films 'We're Coming To Get You!' and 'World Safari II', both of which are featured on 'The First Twenty Years'; along with a lovely treatment of Paperback Writer [cut at the Dream Lover session] and the very first [unreleased] LITTLE RIVER BAND recording, the EVERY BROTHERS' When Will I Be Loved? [featuring guitarist-for-a-day GRAHAM DAVIDGE].
Three years of work under his own auspices may not have brought GLENN as much commercial success as he enjoyed with LRB, but his personal satisfaction is considerably greater. "When I made my own album," he confides, "there was just two of us making decisions, instead of six or eight. Instead of compromise, I now have the freedom to feel my way around. I've always thought of myself as a very versatile singer and now have the chance to prove it."
Listening to GLENN'S major contributions to LITTLE RIVER BAND, it is appropriate to view him as the soul of the outfit, the true artist within its ranks. His voice then, as now, can be a plaintive cry or surging energy charge - always imbued with integrity and an earthy passion. Asked to summarize his own career, he thoughtfully offers, "I think I've done things fairly quietly, never made a big noise. I may have lost a few career chances as a result but I can say that I don't have any major hang- ups and I don't lose sleep over my frustrations. I still have a fairly happy disposition."
Glenn A. Baker