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.
https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2F4.bp.blogspot.com%2F-Nae4_TVLdGI%2FTS6nJi6S9EI%2FAAAAAAAABFY%2FYSpEBCMmgjI%2Fs1600%2FDSCF3356.JPG&f=1
(not pictured: the best Bee Gee)

Οὖτις, Friday, 14 December 2018 16:42 (seven months ago) link

shit this should be 1967-1981 d'oh

Οὖτις, Friday, 14 December 2018 16:49 (seven months ago) link

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P9COyXDe4g

Οὖτις, Friday, 14 December 2018 17:38 (seven months ago) link

*crickets*

Οὖτις, Friday, 14 December 2018 19:08 (seven months ago) link

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 (seven months ago) link

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 (seven months ago) link

huh didn't know that particular Bonzos track

Οὖτις, Friday, 14 December 2018 19:30 (seven months ago) link

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

Οὖτις, Friday, 14 December 2018 19:30 (seven months ago) link

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.

https://youtu.be/_hQ1HQh9_JM

Οὖτις, Saturday, 15 December 2018 16:30 (seven months ago) link

i’m in !!

budo jeru, Saturday, 15 December 2018 16:56 (seven months ago) link

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 (seven months ago) link

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 (seven months ago) link

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

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

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 (seven months ago) link

"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 (seven months ago) link

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 (seven months ago) link

imho this is an excellent approach to lyric creation

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

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 (seven months ago) link

Oh ffs.

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

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 (seven months ago) link

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 (seven months ago) link

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 (seven months ago) link

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

errang (rushomancy), Sunday, 16 December 2018 13:53 (seven months ago) link

(xp) Bass player!

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

Of course. Less so on later albums.

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

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 (seven months ago) link

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)
https://youtu.be/AldVXUgCY1Q

Οὖτις, Sunday, 16 December 2018 16:06 (seven months ago) link

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 (seven months ago) link

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 (seven months ago) link

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 (seven months ago) link

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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuvGSWU5xw0

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 16:28 (seven months ago) link

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 (seven months ago) link

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

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 18:46 (seven months ago) link

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 (seven months ago) link

(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 (seven months ago) link

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 (seven months ago) link

no skipping ahead!

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 18:54 (seven months ago) link

(but yes)

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 18:54 (seven months ago) link

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 (seven months ago) link

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 (seven months ago) link

"Holiday" was posted on Saturday
xp

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 19:31 (seven months ago) link

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 (seven months ago) link

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 (seven months ago) link

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

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 20:53 (seven months ago) link

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 (seven months ago) link

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.

Anyway...

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 (seven months ago) link

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

Ned Trifle X, Monday, 17 December 2018 21:28 (seven months ago) link

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

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 21:34 (seven months ago) link

so.

much.

harischord

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 17 December 2018 22:50 (seven months ago) link

haha yeah that intro feels like something else entirely. Maurice's bass playing always adds so much.

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 25 June 2019 17:49 (three weeks ago) link

agree about the chorus as well, the "don't be scared" transitions into the chorus are fantastically ghostly

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 25 June 2019 17:50 (three weeks ago) link

The start of this song with that nice bass part surely belongs to another song doesn't it?

belongs on pearl jam's first album. "jeremy," perhaps.

fact checking cuz, Tuesday, 25 June 2019 18:50 (three weeks ago) link

Track No. 103: I Can Bring Love ("To Whom It May Concern", 1972)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsnLtPX4TBQ

This album is such a random grab bag. Here we get what is essentially a Barry solo tune, just him and his 12-string and a small string section, delivering a plaintive dose of syrupy soft-focus folk-pop. Unusually minimalist and compact, it's pleasant-ness can't entirely override the suspicion that this was some tossed off filler. Again showcases his penchant for juxtaposing sweet major key melodies over suspended chords.

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 26 June 2019 15:31 (three weeks ago) link

I feel like this thread has devolved into me and Tom D doing some version of "On Bee Gees At The Bee Gees"

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 26 June 2019 16:27 (three weeks ago) link

I give this song three bags of popcorn and a large hairbrush for Barry's coiffure

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 26 June 2019 16:28 (three weeks ago) link

I was going to say Barry can write memorable melodies in his sleep, and he probably did here, but then I remembered the entirety of the "2 Years On" album.

Orpheus Knutt (Tom D.), Wednesday, 26 June 2019 17:18 (three weeks ago) link

maybe he just wasn't getting enough sleep during those 2 years

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 26 June 2019 17:35 (three weeks ago) link

Track No. 104: I Held a Party ("To Whom It May Concern", 1972)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r64vSUVTzPk

Having listened to all 60+ tracks of "Saved by the Bell: The Collected Works of Robin Gibb 1968-1970)", I can attest that, surprisingly, this song was *not* an outtake or leftover from that period. It sure doesn't sound like much else from the contemporaneous rock scene of 1972. Robin holds a party, no one comes, he gets drunk and goes to sleep, is sad, all to the tune of Maurice's waltzing harpsichords and some great vocals, particularly at the end of each verse. I think this is possibly the *only* song in the catalog that's in 3/4...? Interestingly, there's very little of Shepherd's orchestral arrangement; for the most part, the boys substitute harmonies in the place of strings, which works very well, particularly in the later verses and on the gregorian chant-like coda (which recalls Robin's vocals on "Every Christian Lionhearted Man").

Οὖτις, Thursday, 27 June 2019 15:28 (three weeks ago) link

Yes, it's very old school Bee Gees - ca. 67/68 - so I like it! Robin is on good form on this album and there's a lot of him, he'd never be heard as often on a Bee Gees album again :(

Orpheus Knutt (Tom D.), Thursday, 27 June 2019 16:59 (three weeks ago) link

while it's a very psych-period song stylistically, I think it actually benefits from the higher quality 70s-production and performances (no fumbling drumming, the harpsichord is double-tracked, more low end to it etc.)

Οὖτις, Thursday, 27 June 2019 18:17 (three weeks ago) link

Track No. 105: Please Don't Turn Out the Lights ("To Whom It May Concern", 1972)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gH0oaeKLKu8

Another fairly minimally arranged song, this time oriented around a fantastic set of vocal harmonies that are as rich as chocolate cake. Just piano, some restrained strings, bass and the three brothers harmonizing for two verses and two choruses. I am a sucker for anything that sounds this sumptuous, no matter how banal the lyrics or simple the chord changes. By this point, the quality of their throwaway material had increased dramatically from just a couple albums prior. While this album is all over the map stylistically and feels pretty aimless as a collection, they at least managed to deliver high caliber performances.

Οὖτις, Friday, 28 June 2019 15:50 (three weeks ago) link

also love the vocal melody on the verses of this, and the way Robin and Barry were getting very adept at trading off

Οὖτις, Friday, 28 June 2019 15:51 (three weeks ago) link

one thing that listening through this period has made me think about is how the dynamics in the band shifted over time - after the breakup neither Robin nor the Barry/Maurice combo did as well as they would have expected, and when they reunited things *still* didn't get better. It's at this point (right after To Whom It May Concern) that Robin and Maurice both take more of a backseat: Robin doesn't get any solo songs, Maurice increasingly restricted to bass, etc. It's like once Barry and Maurice accepted that whatever they were doing wasn't working, they ceded more of the creative direction to Barry.

Οὖτις, Friday, 28 June 2019 20:28 (three weeks ago) link

It's like once Barry Robin and Maurice

fixed

Οὖτις, Monday, 1 July 2019 15:45 (two weeks ago) link

Track No. 106: Sea of Smiling Faces ("To Whom It May Concern", 1972)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqUVpaCUncA&list=PLDSjAKM-kw0h_kfson0Gcogv6DMwOtshX&index=7

This song is so meticulously constructed and feels of such a piece with "Run to Me" I'm surprised it wasn't released as the follow-up single. Very much in the ballad style of the tracks on "Trafalgar", it follows a familiar pattern of Barry and Robin trading off verses, Maurice providing the instrumental muscle, and Shepherd adding in the orchestral countermelodies. And again this feels like one of their 60s psych period songs just updated with 70s recording technology and performed by a more sure-footed band. Song also features one of my favorite songwriting tricks where the final chord in the verse shifts from minor to major, leading into a key change for the chorus. Hard not to read the lyrics as an ode to their vanishing audience.

Οὖτις, Monday, 1 July 2019 15:59 (two weeks ago) link

I think it's Maurice's staccato pipe organ on the verses - plus all those ridiculous bass runs - that really make it feel like a 60s leftover

Οὖτις, Monday, 1 July 2019 16:01 (two weeks ago) link

Yes, I love this song and it is very 60s. I think the second verse is one of the quintessential Robin vocals, I look forward to it every time I hear this song, those flat Northern vowels!

Orpheus Knutt (Tom D.), Monday, 1 July 2019 17:25 (two weeks ago) link

Track No. 107: Bad Bad Dreams ("To Whom It May Concern", 1972)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bh1bEMX5328

Despite opening the song with "I've got a notion/to live in an ocean", which scans like a throwaway Fred Schneider lyric, this is certainly the band's most credible attempt at "rocking" to-date. Recently added lead guitarist Alan Kendall steps to the fore with a guitar sound borrowed from the Beatles "Revolution" (or maybe "Savoy Truffle"?), supported by a brassy horn section and some unusually fluid drumming courtesy of Clem Cattini, providing the Gibb bros with the necessary muscle. Cattini seems a little too fond of bashing away on his open high hat, but that's a minor quibble. This is another one of those songs on the album that feels like a 60s psych tune updated with 70s recording technology and style. Not bad.

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 2 July 2019 15:13 (two weeks ago) link

Feels like they're getting the last of the Beatles out of their system on this album, including this track which is like "Day Tripper" played by the Move in their heavy rock mode.

Orpheus Knutt (Tom D.), Tuesday, 2 July 2019 18:46 (two weeks ago) link

omg you're right the melody totally bites "Day Tripper" in a couple spots!

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 2 July 2019 18:49 (two weeks ago) link

Track No. 108: You Know It's For You ("To Whom It May Concern", 1972)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EA0gXxwwxfg

Maurice's last turn in the spotlight, which sounds like he's playing and singing everything apart from the drums. After this album, Maurice was increasingly relegated to a strictly bass-playing/backup singing role, which is perhaps a bit unfortunate given what a stellar team-player and accompanist he was over the years. While this isn't on the level of "Trafalgar" it's still a nicely done little slice of AM pop with some interesting touches - the heavily reverbed mellotron flutes, the ghostly and wordless two-chord middle eight, a gentle drumbreak. He never penned a hit, but generally his songs were entertaining detours on these early 70s albums.

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 15:10 (two weeks ago) link

Having done a more than credible Lennon on the title track of the last album, here he attempts McCartney - will the real Maurice stand up? Too late for that now :( Nice track, Maurice seemed like a mellow chap.

Orpheus Knutt (Tom D.), Wednesday, 3 July 2019 15:28 (two weeks ago) link

this does feel v much like a Wings deep cut or something

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 15:34 (two weeks ago) link

I'll have to take your word for that!

Orpheus Knutt (Tom D.), Wednesday, 3 July 2019 15:54 (two weeks ago) link

I'm sure Turrican would love to weigh in on this issue

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 15:57 (two weeks ago) link

Track No. 109: Alive ("To Whom It May Concern", 1972)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReVM6N0akl8

Once again someone in the camp (Stigwood? Barry?) makes an inexplicably poor decision and pushes for this as the second and final single from the album. Surely "Sea of Smiling Faces" or hell even "Road to Alaska" would have been a better choice. Reportedly, Barry doesn't even remember writing it, which I guess goes some way to explaining why I could barely recall a thing about it after listening to it. It's not bad per se, the performances and delivery and production are all fine, it's just very unmemorable; it seems like an attempt to go for a grand gesture and builds from a whisper to a shout, but it never delivers on a hook or memorable chorus or lyric line or anything. Feel bad for Robin having to pretend like he has anything to do on this song during this TV clip (also not sure who's miming along to Maurice's bass playing, suppose it must be Kendall). The last song to feature Bridgford behind the kit.

Barry reportedly does not remember writing this song

Οὖτις, Friday, 5 July 2019 15:32 (two weeks ago) link

oops sorry for the repeat of that last line, c+p error

Οὖτις, Friday, 5 July 2019 15:33 (two weeks ago) link

I don't know, I quite like this song!

Orpheus Knutt (Tom D.), Friday, 5 July 2019 18:26 (two weeks ago) link

the most I can say for it is that it's more evidence of their overall compositional vocabulary expanding. They're drawing on an increasingly sophisticated set of chord changes, the days of everything being just three or four chords are rapidly receding in the rearview mirror.

Οὖτις, Friday, 5 July 2019 18:28 (two weeks ago) link

Track No. 110: Road to Alaska ("To Whom It May Concern", 1972)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjChJ5Bvp7A

Featuring the only instance of a blues-shuffle rhythm in their catalog to-date, Maurice and Robin graft some silly American place-name rhymes onto a rollicking bass- and piano-led track, with a guitar solo that might as well have been lifted from a mid-period Funkadelic record thrown in for good measure. Yet another track where something that sounds ridiculous on paper actually comes off rather well: the song is relatively short and compact, Robin's vocal works surprisingly well, Maurice's bass playing is nuts, etc. An overlooked deep cut!

Οὖτις, Monday, 8 July 2019 15:22 (one week ago) link

Definitely sounds like a Maurice thing, getting Robin to sing it was amusing and a good idea.

Orpheus Knutt (Tom D.), Monday, 8 July 2019 17:27 (one week ago) link

Track No. 111: Sweet Song of Summer ("To Whom It May Concern", 1972)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ic0rPq30Vc

Possibly the most inaccurately titled song in the Bee Gees ouevre, this Moog-led slice of gothic prog evokes neither sweetness nor the summer, and instead brings all of Robin's idiosyncrasies to the fore. For an album filled with oddball left-turns and stylistic detours, this song is definitely the one that wanders furthest afield. Mike Vickers (of Mannfred Mann) programmed the Moog for Maurice, and it dominates the fairly minimalist instrumental arrangement, which is otherwise limited to just acoustic guitar, bass, and some tom hits. The quavering melody, which sounds very quintessentially Robin, has a sort of medieval or Arabic feel in places, which is reinforced by lyrics that hint at the ruminations of some kind of depressed monarch ("I can feel you sweet song of summer/Your music comforts my lonely reign/I can hear you in evil darkness/That empty feeling, I'm near you again"). Things just get weirder from there as the song seques into an extended coda with the boys doing some vocal ad-libbing that sounds like "gollum, gollum" by the end. Is it good? I'm not sure but it's definitely interesting and deserving of respect for its audacity.

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 9 July 2019 15:40 (one week ago) link

Yes, it's a strange one this! Like you, I'm not certain it's any good but I'm glad it exists.

I remembering thinking this album was total dogshit when I first heard it: disjointed, directionless and desperate. Now I think it's one of the most entertaining albums from their 'lost years'. It's still all over the place but, for one, there's none of the bilious balladeering that threatened to scuttle "Trafalgar" and Robin is in great form.

Orpheus Knutt (Tom D.), Tuesday, 9 July 2019 17:09 (one week ago) link

agree about the album in general - it's quite scattered but the majority of it is well-crafted, it's lows aren't quite as egregious as the worst stuff from years prior

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 9 July 2019 17:17 (one week ago) link

Track No. 112: Saw a New Morning ("Life in a Tin Can", 1973)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yygOQnbXj0Q

This is the Bee Gees album I'm least familiar with, but judging from its commercial and critical performance it's safe to assume I am not alone in this respect. The lead single from the album doesn't really reflect the widening scope of changes engulfing the band. They moved to L.A., jettisoned Shepherd as an arranger, swapped out Clem Cattini for Jim Keltner, and enlisted a growing roster of sessions musicians (including Sneaky Pete Kleinow, Jerome Richardson, and Tommy Morgan). Familiar elements are all in place: Barry and Robin trading verses, rich harmonies from all three brothers, an overall soft-rock/country-pop vibe underpinned by Barry's acoustic and augmented with orchestral fluorishes. The structure of this song is kind of interesting from a compositional standpoint, being just a single melody that modulates with each chord change, and then a key change at the end for the coda. Unfortunately, the melody isn't that great, and it gets a bit tiresome.

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 10 July 2019 15:23 (one week ago) link

I just listened to this whole album and can't recall a single song from it 5 minutes later, does not bode well.

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 10 July 2019 22:58 (one week ago) link

Yes, I can't remember anything from it either, though it is more than 5 minutes since I've heard it. I remember it being boring though. This song is not bad but it feels like everything but the kitchen sink has been thrown at it and it's ended up hopelessly overblown. Also, if there was ever any doubt about the Bee Gees' nationality then the pronunciation of "Saw" as "Sawr" surely marks then out as English.

Orpheus Knutt (Tom D.), Wednesday, 10 July 2019 23:16 (one week ago) link

Track No. 113: I Don't Wanna Be the One ("Life in a Tin Can", 1973)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvNjvCJP6Ms&list=RDHvNjvCJP6Ms&index=1

A sound in search of a song. And the sound is pretty good at this point, very finely tuned, plus there's some nice unusual details like the odd organ fills. Nonetheless, the melody is weak and unmemorable, the phrasing/rhyme scheme of the lyrics is awkward, and it just kinda goes nowhere. It sounds like Robin had half an idea for the verses and Barry had half an idea for a chorus and they had some vain hopes that if they put them together they'd have a good song.

Οὖτις, Thursday, 11 July 2019 15:54 (one week ago) link

Can't disagree with any of that, this starts out quite nicely but doesn't coalesce into anything worth listening to more than once, and just plods away for 4 minutes.

Orpheus Knutt (Tom D.), Thursday, 11 July 2019 17:32 (one week ago) link

Track No. 114: South Dakota Morning ("Life in a Tin Can", 1973)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RblQu0va9iE

Barry sure liked writing songs about the morning, not to mention random American places. The lyrics imply some kind of cowboy gunfight scenario, and the reliably sparkling contributions from Sneaky Pete Kleinow and Tommy Morgan (on pedal steel and harmonica, respectively) do a good job of making this sound like an outtake from a Western soundtrack. But Barry's melodic sense again seems to fail - there's no hook or memorable chorus, and the prowess and professionalism of the backing musicians can only elevate the material so far, rendering the track merely pleasant as opposed to memorable.

Οὖτις, Friday, 12 July 2019 15:15 (one week ago) link

At least it's short. Unfair because this song is quite pretty, but there is not much to it. It's short.

Orpheus Knutt (Tom D.), Friday, 12 July 2019 17:00 (one week ago) link

Track No. 115: Living in Chicago ("Life in a Tin Can", 1973)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bQLmSPIuy0

The ghost of "Massachusetts" loomed large over the Bee Gees for awhile. Surely if they just referenced some other random American place amid their gorgeous harmonies, chart-topping success would follow! But no. Anyway, here we get a song about Chicago that doesn't really have anything to do with Chicago and makes zero sense (as usual), which would be forgivable if it was wrapped around a memorable melody or hook. Barry (and I suppose Robin, although it's hard to tell who composed what) seems to have regressed to some of the most simplistic melodies and chord changes but like the previous track nothing sticks. The best part about it is the overlapping vocals and strings at the end.

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 16 July 2019 15:34 (three days ago) link

"If you're living in Chicago, it's your home" - profound or what? Even though my ears prick up when Robin starts up they soon prick down again when I realize there's very little actually going on here and it's going for a long time - nearly 6 minutes!

Orpheus Knutt (Tom D.), Tuesday, 16 July 2019 17:20 (three days ago) link

coincidentally, if you're living in Chicago, you are also alone! Sucks to be you, Chicago.

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 16 July 2019 17:28 (three days ago) link

Track No. 116: While I Play ("Life in a Tin Can", 1973)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpkdZQjlYek

I'm afraid my reviews of each track on this album are going to be a bit repetitive, given the uniformity of the material. Their single-minded dedication to a soft-rock/country aesthetic pays dividends in terms of stylistic consistency and the quality of the arrangements and contributions from session musicians, in this case bass and violin from Rick Grech (Blind Faith/Traffic). There also appears to be some kind of weird wah-wah slide guitar, presumably courtesy of Maurice? And once again, where the song fails is in the basic weakness of the material. Barry would seem to be firmly to blame for this misfire, turning for the umpteenth time to tired major key I-IV-V progressions and the most lumpen of melodies. Not sure why he was so off his game this time around, he hadn't floundered quite this badly since 2 Years On.

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 17 July 2019 15:16 (two days ago) link

their transitional period from their 60s to 70s sound is so weird and unevenly distributed. it's not until the high points of Mr. Natural that you even get a hint of where they're headed, I think.

Simon H., Wednesday, 17 July 2019 15:31 (two days ago) link

essentially, they had to swap out Shepherd for Arif Mardin to get there

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 17 July 2019 15:32 (two days ago) link

it's true that there is very little hint of their abiding connection with R&B during this period - outside of Al Green covering "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" and giving another song (which we'll get to) to the Staple Singers you don't really get the sense they were interested

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 17 July 2019 15:38 (two days ago) link

Track No. 117: My Life Has Been a Song("Life in a Tin Can", 1973)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNuOYz3CtZ8

Robin injects some much-need personality into the proceedings. Barry's chorus nicely compliments Robin's verses, so that the song alternates between the anxious tension of Robin's ascending melody and the sweeter major key harmonic structure of Barry's parts. In places this reminds me of Mickey Newbury - probably just the combo of ghostly harmonica, strings and an overall reflective vibe. Still, the stitches show on this song. The grafting of the two parts together feels a little like a hackjob.

Οὖτις, Thursday, 18 July 2019 15:00 (yesterday) link


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