Little River Band – Playing to Win (1985)

LRB_PlayingWin4.5 out of 5 Stars!

In the mid 1980s, Australia’s Little River Band decided to reinvent itself, rechristening the band LRB (at least for this single album) and injecting some much-needed beef into its overall sound, which means heavier guitars, grander and pomp-styled keyboards, and less of the lighter Pop Rock style that graced the band’s previous releases.

And what did LRB end up delivering? Great lead vocals and exceptional harmonies, great and catchy melodies, great musicianship and production…indeed, Playing to Win is one of the best AOR releases from the ’80s. To my ears, it could easily rival any of the most popular releases from groups such as Journey, Ambrosia, Touch, and especially Toto and White Heart from the same era, while on many tracks, such as “Blind Eyes,” “When Cathedrals Were White,” “One Short in the Dark,” and “Piece of the Dream,” the band actually sounds quite similar to Magnum when it comes to the lead and harmony vocals, song arrangements, overall instrumentation, and production quality.

Shamefully overlooked, this album and its equally enjoyable follow-up, 1986’s No Reins, were LRB at its best.

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