Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Runners Post Race

Singer/guitarist Mark Edwards fronted one of Melbourne’s most popular rock bands in the early to mid 80s. The Runners started life in 1980 as the backing band for 60s pop singer Ron Charles (ex-Groop). Rounding out the field in The Runners were lead guitarist Trevor Reading (who had also been in the band City with Edwards), Lester Price (keyboards), Paul McNaughton (bass) and Grant Hamston (drums). 1981 saw The Runners out playing on their own and attracting a loyal following on the pub circuit. Mark Greig replaced Lester Price and soon after the band signed with Mushroom Records.

The Runners’ debut single ‘Sure Fire Thing’ reached #16 in Melbourne and #43 nationally (mid ‘82) - the song was produced by ex LRB member Beeb Birtles. A debut album ‘Hitting The Wall’ followed in March ‘83, from which the only single to chart was ‘Endlessly (Hitting The Wall)’ (OZ#57). From July ‘83 Mark Edwards focused just on his singing duties with The Runners, and the band experienced numerous lineup changes over the following year, but by July ‘84 had run their race and split up.

Following the split Mark Edwards signed with WEA Records and released one album in 1986 entitled ‘Land Of The Living’. His only foray into the Australian singles chart was with the advance single ‘Worlds Away’ (#70, early ‘86). Several other singles were released including the title track and my favourite track from the album ‘Somebody Like You’. Also featured on that brilliant track were acclaimed session man Ricki Fataar and legendary backing singer Venetta Fields (ex-Boz Scaggs, John Farnham). Sadly, the album failed to sell well and Edwards never recorded a follow up.

The other former Runner to release a solo album was former bass player Paul McNaughton, who launched his solo career under the name Paul Norton (having played a while with Wendy & The Rocketts). Norton experienced a far greater reception to his music than had Edwards. Norton’s debut single ‘Stuck On You’ struck #3 on the Australian charts in May ‘89. Two more top 40 singles followed with ‘I Got You’ (#34) and ‘Southern Sky’ (#32), both from Norton’s debut album ‘Under A Southern Sky (1990). A second album ‘Let It Fly’ was released in 1992 but yielded only a minor hit single with ‘When We Were Young’ (#80). Norton has gone to work in country music, and as musical director with the Australian Shakespeare Company, and still tours regularly. He runs his own website as well, with details of his career and current work.

Check out the promo clip for Mark Edwards' single 'Worlds Away', via the following link:

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