DON'T FORGET TO REMEMBER: The Official ILM Track-By-Track BEE GEES 1968-1981 Listening Thread

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Put on your 18th century frock coat and/or satin windbreaker and pull up a chair as we explore the dizzying highs and breathtaking lows of over two-decades of the Brothers Gibb! This will probably take the better part of a year, even doing a song a day, so let's get this party started.
(not pictured: the best Bee Gee)

Οὖτις, Friday, 14 December 2018 16:42 (five months ago) Permalink

shit this should be 1967-1981 d'oh

Οὖτις, Friday, 14 December 2018 16:49 (five months ago) Permalink

first up, from Bee Gees 1st, "Turn of the Century". In the vein of other late 60s chamber-pop psych pining for bygone eras, fashions, and manners (The Association's "Wasn't It a Bit Like Now", The Hollies "Ye Olde Toffee Shoppe", Tomorrow's "Auntie Mary's Dress Shop" etc.) and yet I think this one harkens *back* the farthest - not just to the 20s or pre-war UK but actually to the previous fucking century. For who among us has not longed for hoop skirts, unwieldy bicycles, and oversized cravats. As with many other tracks on this album, it sounds hastily composed and is not particularly complex and has daft lyrics - but the eerie orchestration, harmonies and finely tuned melodies ultimately sell it. The teary-eyed nostalgia for a vanished British Empire was a mode Robin would return to again and again.

Οὖτις, Friday, 14 December 2018 17:38 (five months ago) Permalink


Οὖτις, Friday, 14 December 2018 19:08 (five months ago) Permalink

Not a great idea to launch this when (seemingly) 90% of ILXors are getting all giddy and light-headed over an indie band from Glasgow.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Friday, 14 December 2018 19:12 (five months ago) Permalink

But, yes, "Turn of the Century", much better than those other songs you cited, not as good as the Bonzos' "The Equestrian Statue" though, which resembles this.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Friday, 14 December 2018 19:19 (five months ago) Permalink

huh didn't know that particular Bonzos track

Οὖτις, Friday, 14 December 2018 19:30 (five months ago) Permalink

so many harpsichords, when is someone gonna bring back the harpsichord in pop music

Οὖτις, Friday, 14 December 2018 19:30 (five months ago) Permalink

A concert favourite for over 30 years, Maurice Gibb often provided the audience with comedic antics by attempting many failed attempts to join Barry and Robin while singing this song. Evidence of this can be seen in the 1989 "One For All" concert video where Maurice takes a camera from a film cameraman standing nearby and films Barry and Robin as they sing the song.

Who knows what this song is about, really. Beautifully eerie.

Οὖτις, Saturday, 15 December 2018 16:30 (five months ago) Permalink

i’m in !!

budo jeru, Saturday, 15 December 2018 16:56 (five months ago) Permalink

I'm in too. Coincidentally, I'm writing about these dudes tonight.

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 15 December 2018 17:00 (five months ago) Permalink

FUCK YES I'm so glad I suggested this

"Who knows what this song is about" is an excellent question about so many bee gees songs

resident hack (Simon H.), Saturday, 15 December 2018 18:02 (five months ago) Permalink

god some of these early songs should really be licensed out for horror soundtracks

resident hack (Simon H.), Saturday, 15 December 2018 18:04 (five months ago) Permalink

they have to be the weirdest looking gaggle of freaks ever to become oversexed pop stars

resident hack (Simon H.), Saturday, 15 December 2018 18:07 (five months ago) Permalink

"Who knows what this song is about" is an excellent question about so many bee gees songs

I think a lot of them are about fitting any old words that'll do to a good tune, they have written some very weird lyrics over the years.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Saturday, 15 December 2018 18:28 (five months ago) Permalink

I think they were quite good lyricists from time to time, but it’s clear from their demos and recording habits that their overriding priority was always melodies (and harmonies) first and foremost

Οὖτις, Saturday, 15 December 2018 19:37 (five months ago) Permalink

imho this is an excellent approach to lyric creation

resident hack (Simon H.), Saturday, 15 December 2018 19:43 (five months ago) Permalink

so many harpsichords, when is someone gonna bring back the harpsichord in pop music

something something indie band from Glasgow...

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Sunday, 16 December 2018 11:25 (five months ago) Permalink

Oh ffs.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Sunday, 16 December 2018 12:26 (five months ago) Permalink

yknow, I'll be interested when you guys get to tunes that Maurice sang…like I have the 1990 box set, but I can't tell the difference easily between his voice and Barry's, at least in the early years…like what's the most prominent tune he sang? or what's the song that's most his but one of the other two sang? My understanding is that he was the boffin of the three, but there must be something else noteworthy about him…it does seem that Barry was the massively talented one, and Robin was notably toothsome, charmingly awkward…

veronica moser, Sunday, 16 December 2018 13:24 (five months ago) Permalink

He only very occasionally had a lead vocal - and I don't think he sounded much like Barry, he didn't have a particularly distinctive voice, he did a good John Lennon impersonation though! I would say the title track of "Trafalgar" is his most prominent vocal?

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Sunday, 16 December 2018 13:50 (five months ago) Permalink

I know him best as keyboarist and harmonist.

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 16 December 2018 13:50 (five months ago) Permalink

did maurice do lead on "have you heard the word?"

errang (rushomancy), Sunday, 16 December 2018 13:53 (five months ago) Permalink

(xp) Bass player!

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Sunday, 16 December 2018 13:55 (five months ago) Permalink

Of course. Less so on later albums.

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 16 December 2018 13:58 (five months ago) Permalink

One odd thing about Barry Gibb, of course, is that he plays in Open D tuning. Worth remembering if you're trying to learn Bee Gees songs on guitar!

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Sunday, 16 December 2018 14:07 (five months ago) Permalink

Today’s entry, more flutes and mellotron and some nonsense lyrics about childhood (afaict). A goat appears to have snuck into the studio towards the end. To me, this one always feels a little bit of a piece w Syd Barrett’s similar obsession w fairytales, nursery rhyme sorta stuff (albeit w out the same level of creepy undertow)

Οὖτις, Sunday, 16 December 2018 16:06 (five months ago) Permalink

This possibly their most psychedelic track, though there's a lot of them - it's brilliant anyway.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Sunday, 16 December 2018 19:23 (five months ago) Permalink

By the way, to return to the earlier discussion on Maurice's contribution to the band, I believe he's responsible for the mellotron on this and other tracks.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Sunday, 16 December 2018 19:26 (five months ago) Permalink

Yeah his bass and keyboard playing is p distinctive. Not sure what his first lead vocal is - one of his tracks from odessa or cucumber castle maybe?

Οὖτις, Sunday, 16 December 2018 19:59 (five months ago) Permalink

And four songs into the first album we finally get something with a relatively conventional lyrical POV, and one the bros would mine extensively - the pleading lover. Musically I don't think it's that distinctive from other orchestral balladry of the era, but it's not bad.

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 16:28 (five months ago) Permalink

Who are those other 2 rando's on the cover of this album? Also, is Maurice getting a message on one of those secret service earpieces, or did he just have a toothache?

enochroot, Monday, 17 December 2018 18:45 (five months ago) Permalink

the other two are the drummer (Colin Petersen) and the lead guitarist (Vince Melouney)

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 18:46 (five months ago) Permalink

wiki implies that Maurice's first solo vocal turns are on Odessa ("Suddenly", where you can definitely tell him apart from Barry and Robin; less so on "I Laugh in Your Face")

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 18:48 (five months ago) Permalink

(xp) Yes, they were a fully-fledged band by the time they got (back) to the UK.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Monday, 17 December 2018 18:51 (five months ago) Permalink

Could "In My Own Time" be them at their most beatlesque? The bass line definitely bears a strong resemblance to Taxman.

enochroot, Monday, 17 December 2018 18:53 (five months ago) Permalink

no skipping ahead!

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 18:54 (five months ago) Permalink

(but yes)

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 18:54 (five months ago) Permalink

My bad - i have no idea how these listening threads work... someone mentioned "One Minute Woman" already, but there was no mention of "Holiday".

enochroot, Monday, 17 December 2018 18:56 (five months ago) Permalink

They're not exactly short of Beatleseque tracks.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Monday, 17 December 2018 18:58 (five months ago) Permalink

"Holiday" was posted on Saturday

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 19:31 (five months ago) Permalink

Missed it too, great song, great non-ovine vocal from Robin too.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Monday, 17 December 2018 19:35 (five months ago) Permalink

Ah, so it's a track a day. Got it.
(i'll save my Taxman/Doctor Robert comparisons for tomorrow)

enochroot, Monday, 17 December 2018 20:41 (five months ago) Permalink

I can skip tracks on weekends, if ppl aren't around as much

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 20:53 (five months ago) Permalink

I almost missed this! Yay! Bookmarking so I can join in. Thanks for starting this up Shakey... we are in for QUITE a journey I think! :D

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 17 December 2018 20:55 (five months ago) Permalink

I missed the start of this as well. Cool idea – tho maybe we should name the song explicitly? Esp. since the song titles don’t show up if using the app and they’re embedded in videos.


Turn of the Century – not much I have to add to Οὖτις’s take on this.

Holiday –

Who knows what this song is about, really. Beautifully eerie.

Yeah no idea but Robin singing about puppets and repeating “Throwing stones” in a descending melodic turn defines melancholy. The first Robin classic if not a three-hanky one.

Red Chair Fadeaway – I love the “IIIIII can feel/The speaking sky” twist of the chorus. There are bits here near the end of the choruses where the melody drops away and the drums and bass keep pounding away and there are little trumpet flourishes that have, yeah, a real Revolver/the tape is still rolling feel. But the whole thing feels a little too “psychedelia for your auntie” to be mistaken for that record.

One Minute Woman – not sure I have much to say beyond that it’s one of Barry’s earliest soul tunes and fairly successful for what it is.

Naive Teen Idol, Monday, 17 December 2018 21:25 (five months ago) Permalink

Great thread. I don't expect to add much but will listen with pleasure.

Ned Trifle X, Monday, 17 December 2018 21:28 (five months ago) Permalink

yeah sorry, I will add the songtitles in posts from now on!

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 21:34 (five months ago) Permalink




Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 17 December 2018 22:50 (five months ago) Permalink

The way his voice cracks up in the chorus is a bit o_0 tbh I can't help wondering a bit about Robin's mental state in these early 70s albums, the songs are so relentlessly gloomy and some of the vocal performances are a bit unnerving.

Freddie Starr (Hitler in shorts) (Tom D.), Monday, 29 April 2019 23:19 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Track No. 78: Back Home (2 Years On, 1970)

Regrettably, all three Gibb brothers participating on a track has never been a reliable guarantee of quality, as this track amply demonstrates. And what really sinks this song is just how lazy it is, you don't hear any of the formulas or attention to craft that usually at least makes their lesser material listenable. Granted, they step out of their comfort zone to apparently try out what it's like to be a rock n roll band; I don't think there's a single track preceding this one that is based around a distorted electric rhythm guitar riff. But it just doesn't work, as a song it feels like no thought or energy went into it. Maurice gamely thumps away in an effort to give the song some heft, but there's really nothing for him to work with, no real hook, no melody, no chorus, nothing but the basic drum track, Barry's two-note riff, and the boneheaded vocal. The nonsensical travelogue lyrics don't add much either.

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 30 April 2019 15:24 (three weeks ago) Permalink

(Not so) tragically overlooked for the sub-two minutes poll!

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Tuesday, 30 April 2019 21:51 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Sounds like a demo or a track they couldn't be bothered finishing.

Ned Caligari (Tom D.), Tuesday, 30 April 2019 22:00 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Very early Beatles harmonies and Barry sounds kinda like Davey Jones - the Manc connection - that as much as I have to say about this song.

Ned Caligari (Tom D.), Tuesday, 30 April 2019 22:02 (three weeks ago) Permalink

The Beatles connection did occur to me too - like this was a leftover Revolver knockoff from '67 that had was never polished up and, by the time it was exhumed, had gone to rot

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 30 April 2019 22:08 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Track No. 79: The 1st Mistake I Made (2 Years On, 1970)

Honestly this song makes me a little irrationally angry, its half-assedness is practically an insult to the listener. With little more than a barely-there 4-bar vocal melody repeated ad nauseam, Barry delivers a nonsensical lyric that consistently undercuts the titular refrain (how can you have more than one first mistake?), begging the question of how something this stupid was not immediately flagged as a mistake in its own right. The one mildly interesting detail is the brief snatches of Maurice's phased electric guitar, which was a relatively new sound in their arsenal. But this is the second song in a row where their usual attention to craft and innate melodic skills really fail them, as they don't seem to have been deployed at all.

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 1 May 2019 15:27 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Track No. 80: Lonely Days (2 Years On, 1970)

Included two clips here because the official video is p great, esp mopey Robin and Voltron-style "Go Team!" bit at the end, but the audio seems slowed down and warbly. The audio on the TV show clip is much better and also features classic live performance emoting and swaying so felt compelled to include that as well. In contrast to the previous two tracks, at least here it seems like they're trying a little harder, and that paid off when it was released as a single and became their first Top 5 hit in the US. The arrangement see-saws back and forth between the stately verses and the marching rhythm and pounding piano of the choruses, and when the chorus comes around the second time they switch up the vocal arrangement as well. Melodically it's not bad, but it's not *that* catchy. The wiki entry makes a lot of rhapsodic comparisons to the Beatles' "Abbey Road" but I don't really hear that so much myself.

Οὖτις, Thursday, 2 May 2019 15:38 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Never rated this song, God knows how it got to be a Top 10 hit in the US, but it's pretty damn good compared to most of the material on this fairly lamentable album. Sounds like two songs bolted together - there's a few songs like that on these 70s Bee Gees albums. Hopeless as the lyrics are I wish they'd written some more for the chorus.

As you pointed out, "The 1st Mistake I Made" is dire.

Ned Caligari (Tom D.), Thursday, 2 May 2019 17:35 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Yeah for some reason they seem to fare a bit better on the US charts during this period, at least compared to the UK, but I really don't see what propelled this to number 3.

Οὖτις, Thursday, 2 May 2019 17:47 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I've done some, er, field research with some of the songs in this thread. Namely asking an older relative (and non-fan) whether they "have much sense of this being a hit" or whatever. For the first time since "I've Gotta Get a Message to You", the subject started SINGING ALONG with the intro to this one before I even asked. Gawd. While most of their singles apparently charted (to some extent) in Aus I certainly didn't anticipate "Lonely Days" being the one to break this particular drought.

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Thursday, 2 May 2019 23:39 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Track No. 81: Alone Again (2 Years On, 1970)

This feels like another one where Robin is recycling a melody from one of his other solo songs (in this case "Down Came the Sun", I think?), came up with a pretty good chorus, and then just couldn't be bothered anymore. The harmonies, which is just Robin and Maurice, are very nice, but they aren't enough to carry the whole song, which is otherwise pretty standard fare. Some of the horn accents are cool, I suppose.

Οὖτις, Monday, 6 May 2019 16:28 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Quite a perky song by Robin's standard, the lyrics are as morose as ever though. One of the better songs on this album too.

Ned Caligari (Tom D.), Monday, 6 May 2019 16:43 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I do like the drum break where the bass drops out

Οὖτις, Monday, 6 May 2019 17:05 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Track No. 82: Tell Me Why (2 Years On, 1970)

Barry shakes things up every so slightly by going with a 6/8 time signature for his latest breathy R&B ballad, which tbh seems like something of a precursor to a certain much superior hit single that appears on their next record. The elementary rhyme schemes don't do the song any favors, and this is yet another instance where there's no chorus per se (much less a bridge or intro or pre-chorus or anything really), just the lead vocal melody that repeats a few times. Barry's delivery, though, does put me in mind of other, different and primarily black R&B singers that might have turned this song into something more substantial or interesting, just with a more powerful range or degree of emotive power. As it is, this is just yet another fairly uninteresting bit of glop.

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 7 May 2019 15:38 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Seems as much country as R&B tbh, could have been on the last album. Barry going through an uncharacteristically fallow period, his songs on this album just don't lodge in yr brain.

Ned Caligari (Tom D.), Tuesday, 7 May 2019 17:04 (two weeks ago) Permalink

agree that Barry's lack of memorable melodies on this one is pretty unusual

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 7 May 2019 17:07 (two weeks ago) Permalink

With Robin you can at least use the excuse that he'd used up about two albums worth of good material on his solo projects, from what I've heard of Barry's unreleased solo album it's as unmemorable as his work on this album.

Ned Caligari (Tom D.), Tuesday, 7 May 2019 17:11 (two weeks ago) Permalink

yeah that like 60-track box set of Robin's solo backlog from this period makes it abundantly clear that he was firing on all cylinders, whereas Barry's songs from the same time seem aimless. Needed his bros, perhaps.

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 7 May 2019 17:15 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Track No. 83: Lay It On Me (2 Years On, 1970)

Just in case you thought it was Robin and Barry that had been stockpiling second-rate solo material, we get this tossed off country-funk ditty from Maurice. Singing and playing everything on the track himself, with the exception of the drums, courtesy of Bridgford, I have to admit that it sounds relatively together, and you can hear Maurice trying to inject some levity and life to the proceedings with the chuckling asides and goofy interjections that he resorted to on "Suddenly" (from "Odessa"). But the lyrics are muddled (he's so proud of being a loser that he doesn't want people to drink with him? okaaaayy), the melody is practically non-existent, his bros aren't around to fill up the sonic space with harmonies, and the underlying structure is rote and boring as hell. Essentially the track seems to exist as an exercise in isolated instrumental versatility and little else.

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 8 May 2019 15:21 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Sounds like Neil Innes. But not very good Neil Innes.

Ned Caligari (Tom D.), Thursday, 9 May 2019 06:55 (one week ago) Permalink

Track No. 84: Every Second, Every Minute (2 Years On, 1970)

While this song doesn't fully break Barry's string of underwhelming and half-formed tunes on this record, it does at least have a few distinguishing characteristics. As with the comparatively dreadful "Back Home", we can hear the band again trying out a relatively traditional "rock n roll band" format and sound, reverting to the Beatle-isms of previous years. Interestingly - and this was driving me crazy trying to figure out what specific Beatles song this reminded me of - the opening bars bear more than a passing resemblance to the Ringo/Lennon/Harrison collaboration "I'm The Greatest", which was still several years down the road. Thanks to Bridgford locking in with Maurice's distorted rhythm guitar part and thumping bass, the track actually kind of rocks a bit, especially on the coda after the seesawing strings and horn accents have come in. This augmentation of a more rocking track with the orchestral flourishes is a little unusual in their catalog, and it's a nice blend of sounds. Lyrically and structurally the song is weak, we are again stuck with a single melody line repeated throughout, but the overall delivery and sound go a fair way to redeeming it.

Οὖτις, Thursday, 9 May 2019 16:03 (one week ago) Permalink

for reference:

I doubt this is a case of the master stealing from the disciple (and the riff isn't really *that* unique) but who knows

Οὖτις, Thursday, 9 May 2019 16:07 (one week ago) Permalink

Track No. 85: I'm Weeping (2 Years On, 1970)

Well, at least this album ends on an unexpectedly bizarre note, and with the most Robin-esque of Robin song titles to boot. Sounding very much like a Robin solo track, I can't detect the presence of either of the other Gibb brothers; even Maurice's bass is absent. Sonically there's no question this is the most unusual and interesting song on the album, from the opening trudge of the drum and tambourine, followed by the twinkly organ riff, through to where Robin's voice triggers a pronounced reverb effect and the strings come in. It's bleak and ethereal and almost creepy in its evocation of poor, bombed-out post-war Britain - at least until the horns come in at the end, striking a more elegiac note, but even that is almost immediately cut off by the switch back to the intro rhythm and organ riff.

Οὖτις, Friday, 10 May 2019 15:46 (one week ago) Permalink

Robin skirting self-parody with this song, but I agree it's interesting. The lyrics are awkward but still affecting - I don't think the song refers to a post-war bombed out Britain so much as it does to slum areas being demolished, which would certainly have happened in Manchester, whether it happened to the Gibb family's old neighbourhood, I don't know. As a whole, this album is sloppy, lazy and half-baked, and almost certainly the worst album they ever put out - what a comeback! Plus I don't what was going on with Barry, but the best parts are almost entirely down to Robin, Maurice meanwhile does his thing as reliably as usual.

Ned Caligari (Tom D.), Friday, 10 May 2019 17:32 (one week ago) Permalink

lol yeah why does he emphasize the "drivinG a car" line, for example? definitely awkward

Also agree this album is definitely sloppy, lazy and half-baked and that it's mystifying that this was a "comeback" effort. Very possible it's their worst album, the only one that might conceivably give it a run for its money on that score is "Life in a Tin Can", which I don't know as well. Pretty much every other album at least has some redeeming, standout tracks and this one just... doesn't.

As it is, we have a non-album track to get to tomorrow, before we move on to the far superior "Trafalgar".

Οὖτις, Friday, 10 May 2019 17:44 (one week ago) Permalink

The "drivinG a car" thing is dialect tbf. Robin not being one for putting on an American accent.

Ned Caligari (Tom D.), Friday, 10 May 2019 17:49 (one week ago) Permalink

ah. well pronunciation aside it's not exactly such a emotionally resonant a line that it requires being repeated

Οὖτις, Friday, 10 May 2019 17:58 (one week ago) Permalink

It doesn't make too much sense as hardly any working class people were driving a car in the 1950s - if this song is really about Robin's own experience, which it probably isn't as he was in Australia by the time he was 10.

Ned Caligari (Tom D.), Friday, 10 May 2019 18:03 (one week ago) Permalink

Track No. 86: In the Morning/Morning of My Life (Melody soundtrack, 1971)

During the sessions for "2 Years On" the boys dusted off this old nugget, originally written by Barry in 1965 when the Gibb bros were still in Australia, and subsequently passed the recording on for inclusion in the soundtrack to the movie "Melody" in 1971. While not particularly remarkable, it does display a level of craft and care that was often absent from "2 Years On" - the harmonies throughout are great, the orchestration subtle and effective, and it even has a bridge (albeit one that is mostly a slight rearrangement of the verses). The only real knock against it is that it lacks both a real hook and a chorus. The lyrics are standard issue daydreamy nonsense.

Οὖτις, Monday, 13 May 2019 15:42 (one week ago) Permalink

It's a nice song, better than anything on "2 Years On". Had to check when Donovan's "Colours" was released (May 1965), because I'm pretty sure Barry had that song in mind when he wrote this.

Ned Caligari (Tom D.), Monday, 13 May 2019 17:24 (one week ago) Permalink

huh, I'll grant the lyrical sentiment is similar but I don't really hear a musical similarity...?

Οὖτις, Monday, 13 May 2019 17:26 (one week ago) Permalink

I can hear it, the original version could easily have been sung in a coffee house by earnest young men squatting on high chairs.

Ned Caligari (Tom D.), Monday, 13 May 2019 17:34 (one week ago) Permalink

ah, I hadn't listened to the original - yeah, that rhythm puts it close to Donovan

Οὖτις, Monday, 13 May 2019 17:37 (one week ago) Permalink

Track No. 87: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart (Trafalgar, single, 1971)

The apex of their soft-rock balladry era. Remarkably recorded just two months after the release of "2 Years On", and apparently written around the same time as some of the material for that album, including "Lonely Days". This song is one of only a handful so far where Barry deploys major 7 chords, and that suspended chord at the beginning and end of each chorus adds a dreamy undercurrent to the melody and the harmonies, a compositional trick they would return to often in subsequent years. The singing here is also top-shelf, with Robin and Barry trading verses and all three brothers chiming in the choruses, as is the orchestration, with every element (a wistful trumpet countermelody, a chiming bell, a harp swirl) deployed just so. Really I just lover everything about this song, every detail feels just right. And apparently I am not alone in this reaction. While the single inexplicably failed in the UK, it was the band's first number one single in the US. Funnily enough, I knew this song well before I knew it was the Bee Gees, I think I probably heard the Al Green version first.

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 14 May 2019 15:27 (one week ago) Permalink

No. 1 in the US, completely bombed in the UK. I suspect most people this side of the pond are more familiar with the Al Green version, so much so that I'm always taken aback when I hear Robin squawking the first line instead of Al.

Ned Caligari (Tom D.), Tuesday, 14 May 2019 17:50 (one week ago) Permalink

man that Al Green version has really shown up in a lot of soundtracks

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 14 May 2019 20:15 (one week ago) Permalink

Until this year I imagined that this came quite a few years later in their career. No doubt because the vocals in the chorus kinda sorta presage stuff they were doing in the second half of the seventies. (Though the broader arrangement doesn't really support that.) It was a big hit in the antipodes. The original -- I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone else's rendition broadcast anywhere!

Also: I think I'm going to have to watch Melody now.

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 01:49 (one week ago) Permalink

Glutton for punishment eh

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 02:50 (one week ago) Permalink

Track No. 87: Country Woman ("How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" single B-side, 1971)

Released in May 1971 just a month after it was recorded and 4 months ahead of the album proper. Strictly a Maurice track, Robin and Barry don't bother to appear, although the rest of the band (Bridgford, new guitarist Alan Kendall, and arranger Bill Shepherd) all contributed. Maurice seems to have been the Bee Gee most interested in American country music, but his grasp of the mechanics of the genre seem a bit tenuous and perhaps rooted in second-hand sources such as the Band. Definitely feel like Bridgford's drum part here is going for Levon Helm's surefooted country funk, for example. Maurice's multi-instrumental facility and baseline level of competence keep this from being outright bad. Still, this is b-side material for sure, and not even close to the level of quality of the song that he *did* manage to get on the album.

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 15:47 (one week ago) Permalink

Well, it's not great but it's not bad, Maurice confident enough to drop the jokiness he'd relied on in his previous solo outings at least.

Ned Caligari (Tom D.), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 17:18 (one week ago) Permalink

Yeah, no goofy ad-libbed asides here.

His other songs on the record are p remarkable and show really rapid development as a songwriter.

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 17:25 (one week ago) Permalink

Man, the original of "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" really doesn't hold a candle to the Al Green version, huh? He really worked some alchemy on that song.

enochroot, Wednesday, 22 May 2019 01:07 (twenty-two hours ago) Permalink

I think they're both excellent to be honest

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 22 May 2019 17:42 (five hours ago) Permalink

Track No. 88: Israel ("Trafalgar", 1971)

Love Maurice's opening bass wobbles as this tune settles into its mid-tempo groove. The inscrutable motivation for the lyric makes Barry's increasingly histrionic vocal all the more baffling as it goes on (and this is definitely among the most unhinged lead vocal he has in their catalog). Head-scratching lyrics aside, the arrangement is very effective, particularly when the harmonies split on the 7th chord in the chorus, with Robin and Maurice's backing vocals nestled in with the strings as the song sails into the second chorus. Things get even more dramatic as the song draws to a close - more timpani! more ascending string lines! more harp swoops! more howling! A fine ballad, but really why did they feel compelled to write a song on this subject?

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 22 May 2019 17:51 (five hours ago) Permalink


as the song sails into the second chorus verse


Οὖτις, Wednesday, 22 May 2019 17:52 (five hours ago) Permalink

The lyrics occasionally threaten to mean something but mostly don't make much sense. Great song though, very stirring!

Ned Caligari (Tom D.), Wednesday, 22 May 2019 17:58 (five hours ago) Permalink

I went back and forth about whether this song is actually about the country or if it's about a person named Israel but yeah it doesn't really make much sense in either scenario. It does make me wonder what prompted it. There was also a reference to Tel Aviv on the previous album.

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 22 May 2019 19:22 (four hours ago) Permalink

He does mention sand, I believe they have quite a lot of that in Israel.

Ned Caligari (Tom D.), Wednesday, 22 May 2019 19:24 (four hours ago) Permalink

where there's sand, yeah

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 22 May 2019 19:29 (four hours ago) Permalink

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