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 (one month ago) Permalink

shit this should be 1967-1981 d'oh

Οὖτις, Friday, 14 December 2018 16:49 (one month 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.

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

Οὖτις, Friday, 14 December 2018 17:38 (one month ago) Permalink

*crickets*

Οὖτις, Friday, 14 December 2018 19:08 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month ago) Permalink

huh didn't know that particular Bonzos track

Οὖτις, Friday, 14 December 2018 19:30 (one month ago) Permalink

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

Οὖτις, Friday, 14 December 2018 19:30 (one month 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.

https://youtu.be/_hQ1HQh9_JM

Οὖτις, Saturday, 15 December 2018 16:30 (one month ago) Permalink

i’m in !!

budo jeru, Saturday, 15 December 2018 16:56 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month ago) Permalink

imho this is an excellent approach to lyric creation

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

Oh ffs.

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

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

errang (rushomancy), Sunday, 16 December 2018 13:53 (one month ago) Permalink

(xp) Bass player!

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Sunday, 16 December 2018 13:55 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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)
https://youtu.be/AldVXUgCY1Q

Οὖτις, Sunday, 16 December 2018 16:06 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuvGSWU5xw0

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 16:28 (one month 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 (one month ago) Permalink

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

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 18:46 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month ago) Permalink

no skipping ahead!

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 18:54 (one month ago) Permalink

(but yes)

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 18:54 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month ago) Permalink

"Holiday" was posted on Saturday
xp

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 19:31 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month ago) Permalink

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

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 20:53 (one month 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 (one month 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.

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 (one month 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 (one month ago) Permalink

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

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 21:34 (one month ago) Permalink

so.

much.

harischord

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 17 December 2018 22:50 (one month ago) Permalink

Strawberry Fields?

Never Turn Your Back On Virginia Woolf (Tom D.), Saturday, 12 January 2019 00:23 (one week ago) Permalink

I agree it does sound curiously like later Lennon.

Never Turn Your Back On Virginia Woolf (Tom D.), Saturday, 12 January 2019 00:23 (one week ago) Permalink

"And the Sun Will Shine" is one of my fave early Bee Gees tunes. They should have improvised more lyrics.

resident hack (Simon H.), Saturday, 12 January 2019 00:56 (one week ago) Permalink

Lennons already forgot

Οὖτις, Saturday, 12 January 2019 02:04 (one week ago) Permalink

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rLBkaBgc4I

velko, Saturday, 12 January 2019 04:36 (one week ago) Permalink

P cool!

Οὖτις, Saturday, 12 January 2019 18:01 (one week ago) Permalink

Track No. 21: Lemons Never Forget ("Horizontal", 1968)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfG4L_ql20M

Four songs in to their second record and the brothers still haven't sung a note together, this time ceding the spotlight to Robin for a weepy multiple-hanky tearjerker apparently written about his experience in the Hither Green Rail Crash, although I'll be damned if I can detect any direct connection in the lyrics. Not particularly fond of this one, the accordian, orchestration, and melodrama make me think it has kind of a French chanson feel to it. A decent enough melody but kinda boring.

Οὖτις, Monday, 14 January 2019 16:38 (six days ago) Permalink

Yes, definite chanson feel to this, he gets even weepier on later albums.

Never Turn Your Back On Virginia Woolf (Tom D.), Monday, 14 January 2019 16:46 (six days ago) Permalink

we aren't going to get to all the unreleased/outtakes from this record but it blows my mind that they would leave off stuff like Words, Out of Line, Ring My Bell, Swan Song, and Sinking Ships to make room for some of the tracks that *did* make it onto the record, including this one

Οὖτις, Monday, 14 January 2019 16:52 (six days ago) Permalink

I do get why they cut Deeply, Deeply Me tho lol

Οὖτις, Monday, 14 January 2019 16:52 (six days ago) Permalink

first, a correction

Track No. 22: Really and Sincerely ("Horizontal", 1968)

and today's track:
Track No. 23: Birdie Told Me ("Horizontal", 1968)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Q-g0VINa-4

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 15 January 2019 17:26 (five days ago) Permalink

Probably my favorite track so far. Love the electric guitar fills. Harmonies, according to wikipedia, are all Barry...?

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 15 January 2019 17:46 (five days ago) Permalink

what, is everybody tired of these gossamer strains of pop majesty already

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 15 January 2019 23:46 (five days ago) Permalink

hey y'all! i've had this bookmarked since the holidays but that golden day to sit down and just catch up on everything hasn't arrived. I intended to just put the one album on and write some quick thoughts at the end but I’ve ended up liveblogging “bee gees 1st” track by track, sorry.

my background is i know the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack inside and out, plus "tragedy" and probably some other gibb stuff in the late 70s. and, thanks to my mom, i know "massachusetts," "i started a joke," and "i've gotta get a message to you" so i was aware they had some kind of sensitive-poet/bubblegum/pop-rock past before that. otherwise i know nothing.

at first listen, this material lives up to that latter zone comfortably. yes, chamber pop, bygone eras, all that. the lite, “play this underneath well-dressed young lovers frolicking” end of psychedelia that owes it all to “penny lane.” “turn of the century” isn't exactly a great example to my ears, and the repeated insistence on the on-the-nose title makes it feel like a simpsons parody of this kind of song… but it's nicely produced. this kind of thing must have commercially been riding right at the edge between sales of rock and pop albums, and of easy-listening and exotica albums.

same more or less goes for the next few tracks - so far, this is the kind of music i stick in to my “bubble gum, psych and transition rock” playlist alongside the archies, the fifth dimension, mark lindsay solo tracks, the box tops, and tommy james; every playlist needs some “color and texture” type songs to fill it out. put another way: it’s a sound/era i dig but so far i’m just feeling the sound; nothing has grabbed me as a song/hook in itself. i’m not as disinterested as Veg is in the aristocrats-at-teatime play-acting, but the polite romantic poet thing really doesn’t lend itself to in-your-face hook-belting like “gotta get a message to you.”

“in my own time” is kicking things up a notch, if admittedly in a sort of predictable way. it’s like the most muted “taxman” knockoff ever, by the least raved-up garage band. it’s tough when you copy something that closely, it’s hard not to just think “well the beatles were clearly a tighter and more fiery band at this point in time.” we’ve just moved from the frolicking-lovers scene to the big party scene, and now “every christian man etc etc” takes us into the “trippy” scene where nobody is seen doing any particular drugs and nothing particularly trippy happens but the camera spins around and zooms in and out slowly. it’s at least got a *vibe* though. the chants are so corny and stop it dead in its tracks but the droney parts are cool.

okay actual lolz at “craise finton kirk royal academy of art” opening right up with a (low-budget, inaccurate) old-timey vocal filter effect. i get what you mean about the kinks, but…. this is them trying to do syd barrett’s twee-er material right? it’s pretty good! nilsson would have taken it into more interesting places but the “see him go, on his way […] very very nice” bit moves along nicely. i like how spare this arrangement is! definitely my fave track so far.

“new york mining disaster 1941” is definitely one I’ve heard of before though if you’d asked me I would have dubbed it “pennsylvania mining town disaster 1945.” the bag of tricks they’ve collected thus far is working a lot better, giving them different sounds to reach for at different points in the song, with the scratchy psych strumming and thump-thump-thump drum being welcome additions that seem to add something and actually contribute to a genuinely weird, off-kilter vibe since the energy level of the track rises at odd times in the song and the narrative. i could do without dylan’s mister jones showing up but “don’t go talking too loud, you’ll cause a landslide” is a really cool way of phrasing what the song is going for at this point. “mixture of melancholy and longing,” i buy that.

“cucumber castle” is also cool. maybe I’m just getting used to the vibe of this record as i’m sitting with it, but i feel like it’s hitting similar notes to those first few tracks but clicking a lot better. the title is a stupid hippie mad lib though.

“to love somebody,” carrying on decently - - - -- oh shit, wait, I know this. i probably figured it was the Brooklyn Bridge or some one-hit no-name band. i’ve always liked the hook and it should be the title - it’s more evocative and you can project more things onto it. man they have some really weird song-naming instincts, these guys! for the first time the vocal is very clearly the gibb-ness i recognize from years later, specifically on the “if i ain’t got you” part.

“i close my eyes”… this is fine I guess… organ part is dumb. the “nahahahaaaahaaaa” part rules. getting better as it goes. you know maybe the real problem is that their drummer is super boring and hacky all over this album? the slower songs can cover for that on mood and psych overproduction but the ‘rock’ numbers can’t really.

woah the lead vocal on “i can’t see nobody” is pretty interesting! it approaches that “martian voice” you can do by closing up your throat (especially on the “don’t know whys” towards the end) but it’s more like he’s just so emotional he’s swallowing up all his vocals. i think this is him trying to do “soul” but it’s so odd and unique that it ends up less embarrassing than similar efforts by peer acts. i like the idea of switching from that to the clearer, lower, earthier multi-vocal part, but the hook itself is a bit generic. so many of these hooks feel like forced singalong, but of songs the instructor wrote rather than ones that have survived to become campfire standards.

“please read me” takes me back to that syd barrett version of psych, just in the affectedly lazy/nasal/atonal vocal approach. the chorus is really lovely. that high beach boys oo-wee-oo coming in is a wonderful surprise.

“close another door” - man this type of band was always opening doors, closing doors, asking people to go through locked doors, seeking keys…. there’s those dreadful drums again – or perhaps it’s someone dropping moldy potatoes on damp cardboard boxes. i think this song is okay but I’m getting weary of this record and this isn’t really nailing what i’d want a closing track to do from this kind of band. it’s too…. jolly or something. happy to have the martian vocals back at the end though.

overall this album got much better across the length of it and i’m looking forward to a second listen! i expect i’ll come around on a few tracks now that i have confidence that I basically am okay with this band at this point in their career, their sound, their tics, all that. i think the only things I can sing looking at the titles are “very very nice” and “you don’t know what it’s like” but that’s not terrible for a first pass…
stoked for this thread and hopeful i can keep up. thanks, outic.

|Restore| |Restart| |Quit| (Doctor Casino), Wednesday, 16 January 2019 00:21 (four days ago) Permalink

yeahhh thanks Doc!

also worth noting is this reverent cover version by Chumbawamba from the year 2000, post-"Tubthumping"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iv9AFfidJZw

sleeve, Wednesday, 16 January 2019 00:27 (four days ago) Permalink

"Birdie Told Me" is certainly not a song I would have recognized by its title but, yes, it's pretty good, they were pretty much the world's leading Beatles impersonators at this point - but I prefer them to the Beatles anyhow.

Never Turn Your Back On Virginia Woolf (Tom D.), Wednesday, 16 January 2019 01:08 (four days ago) Permalink

Nice to see the good Doctor weigh in, feel like a tracks thread is not complete otherwise

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 16 January 2019 01:48 (four days ago) Permalink

awww, thanks. yeah i mean everybody else was such an incredible sport with the, i think, rather more demanding billy joel thread, that it'd be in poor form for me to not try and chime in! plus this band is really a genuine blind spot for me, in genres that i like!

have had second listen going on while i work on stuff... "please read me" is jumping out as the standout. it reminds me of some of the deep cuts on the first buffalo springfield album which i got really into a couple years ago.

|Restore| |Restart| |Quit| (Doctor Casino), Wednesday, 16 January 2019 02:25 (four days ago) Permalink

I never got into Horizontal when I had a vinyl copy, but I'm at least enjoying the opportunity to try again. I know there's stuff I really like on Idea and happen to think Odessa is a masterpiece, so I will be around!

timellison, Wednesday, 16 January 2019 03:32 (four days ago) Permalink

Track No. 24: With the Sun in My Eyes ("Horizontal", 1968)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swxOw3uJNhk

sort of imagine Barry going "oh, Robin gets a weepy solo ballad about the sun? well SO DO I" and writing this in five minutes. The minimal arrangement works well, including that odd suspended chord that the strings end the song on. And so we reach the end of side 1 without the boys having sung a single note together.

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 16 January 2019 16:26 (four days ago) Permalink

I've been kinda hard on Melouney so far in this thread but I think the Doctor does raise some valid points about Peterson's drumming as well. For whatever reason, it doesn't seem like the bros were able to recruit top-flight guys for those roles, and sometimes their sidemen's weird idiosyncrasies work and sometimes they just sound clumsy. At least they could rely on Maurice!

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 16 January 2019 16:43 (four days ago) Permalink

Track No. 25: Harry Braff ("Horizontal", 1968)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJxHU4dsgKw

Side two opens with the already discussed "Massachusetts" and then leads into this rather dire ode to a race car driver whose name the boys seem to be fond of repeating endlessly. In the vein of their other Beatle-y material but all the dropped beats, time changes, and silly vocal ad-libs can't cover up for the fact that this is an exceptionally weak tune with unusually rough harmonies and little in the way of a decent hook. Low point of the album imo.

Οὖτις, Thursday, 17 January 2019 16:55 (three days ago) Permalink

Dire? This song is great!

Never Turn Your Back On Virginia Woolf (Tom D.), Thursday, 17 January 2019 18:43 (three days ago) Permalink

Chequered flag for Harry Naff, more like. A favourite of Oasis, apparently.

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Thursday, 17 January 2019 19:01 (three days ago) Permalink

Q: Could you write to order, say if Oasis came to you? I'm sure Noel Gallagher is a big fan but if he said, 'Write us a song' could you do that?

Maurice: Funnily enough one of their favourite songs is off our second album, it's called Harry Braff. We know what the expression 'braff' means, don't we? So we wrote this song about a non-existent speedcar racer called Harry Fart. It was just one of the Australian expressions that you pick up and we were using so we used them in our songs. So I guess if we wrote something in that vein they'd probably have a ball with it.

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Thursday, 17 January 2019 19:06 (three days ago) Permalink

can't say that anecdote improves my opinion

Οὖτις, Thursday, 17 January 2019 19:13 (three days ago) Permalink

I didn't think it would 😄

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Thursday, 17 January 2019 19:29 (three days ago) Permalink

Here was i thinking it was reference to Ruby Braff... with a side order of Harry Wragg.

Never Turn Your Back On Virginia Woolf (Tom D.), Thursday, 17 January 2019 19:30 (three days ago) Permalink

so I guess the lyrical slang joke make this a precursor to "Fanny be Tender"

Οὖτις, Thursday, 17 January 2019 19:45 (three days ago) Permalink

By the way, OTM on "With the Sun in My Eyes" as an example of Barry doing Robin, though I've never liked that breathy vibrato thing Barry does on this and later ballads.

Never Turn Your Back On Virginia Woolf (Tom D.), Friday, 18 January 2019 00:40 (two days ago) Permalink

Track No. 26: Day Time Girl ("Horizontal", 1968)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ln-t6gkCGyw

Robin delivers another somber ballad w a fairly minimal piano + string quartet arrangement. Lyrically it's fine but otherwise it feels a bit underwritten to me, basically just two verses with little variation from the string accompaniment and then it's done.

Οὖτις, Friday, 18 January 2019 16:12 (two days ago) Permalink

Still catching up....

"Massachusetts" - This is one I've known before but never really connected with. It's working better for me right now after a couple days of having the first album in rotation, I'm now digging their just-barely-square fusion of hippie vibes with gentler chamber pop with all the strings and xylophones and whatnot. Here it's the bubbling bass that really tethers it back to a Beatlesey "rock" sensibility. I've always associated it with "If You're Going to San Francisco" but this is actually a better recording and a more evocative song. That said, speaking as an American, I find the title and lyrical conceit a little clumsy and broad - identifying with a whole big state like that rarely washes for me. For whatever reason I accept it with "Indiana Wants Me" (maybe because he's referring to the state government's police activity) but here it feels really like they just needed a place with the right number of syllables. Overall though it's a much more consistent and coherent song than the stuff on the last album, the chorus grows organically out of the song and the hook is strong enough that it doesn't all just flatten out into wallpaper. Good song.

"Barker of the UFO" - love the intro sound, wish it didn't just fall into another jaunty little ditty. But as jaunty little ditties go, it's good. It must be about someone standing outside an unidentifying UFO coralling patrons, surely? FCC's connection to The Who makes sense to me. It would be better if performed by The Who but it'd be a different thing I guess.

"Sir Geoffrey Saved the World" - I'm still not sold on these warbly wraith aaaah-ehhhhh vocals. The McCartney impression on the verse (check that "steadily") beats most of the Lennon-isms I heard scattered around Bee Gees 1st. Yeah, "Penny Lane" is the right origin point, but that was more grounded, "let me sketch an idyllic main street" and this is verging into Puff the Magic Dragon territory. Amazing how many bands went all in on singing made-up songs about completely irrelevant storybook crap without fear they'd come off as a bunch of dorks. There must have been a lot of listeners out there who'd had their childhoods yanked away from them really brutally, "it's time you became a man, we're throwing all your toys in the bonfire tomorrow" etc., to promote such a return to dreams and imagination (with or without drugs). This is also in step with "Fool on the Hill" (not sure which came first) - seems like we've got a sketch of a person in the subway ranting to nobody and to imaginary things in the sky, but maybe they really see and nobody listens, etc. I like this song.

"World" - Woah, nice to hear them with some LOUD guitar going on, on top of more throbbing bass, though both are used very sparingly. As on the last album, I'm not completely sold on these A versus B alternating tracks. The vaguely classical piano figure reminds me VERY much of Simon & Garfunkel's "7 O'Clock News," which must have been on their radar. Like that track, it feels like an album-closer... weird to open with it but I do get cwkiii's curtain-raising mission-statement take.

"And the Sun Will Shine" - Just listened to this twice and it really hasn't made an impression. Pretty singing, pleasant arrangement, not a real ear-grabbing melody. The clunkiness of their drummer continues to be a problem - that "talk to the skies - whispering lies" part should be a LOT more rhythmically interesting. It almost seems like they turned the drums way down in the mix to hide how lame they are, like even when he's trying to do a bigger, Ringo-y fill to liven things up it's just lost in the strings.

|Restore| |Restart| |Quit| (Doctor Casino), Friday, 18 January 2019 16:23 (two days ago) Permalink

Wikipedia suggests that "And the Sun Shine" was recorded very early in its writing, maybe half ad-libbed? I guess that's impressive but you can really tell the difference between that and the ones where some time has obviously gone into songcraft, like "To Love Somebody."

|Restore| |Restart| |Quit| (Doctor Casino), Friday, 18 January 2019 16:29 (two days ago) Permalink

oh wow i'm loving that "Parkinson" clip of "Massachusetts" - seeing the harmony happen live like that is like a lightbulb turning on that this is three dudes' voices, not some multitracked wall of sound operation. which i'd also be fine with but damn that's pretty awesome.

|Restore| |Restart| |Quit| (Doctor Casino), Friday, 18 January 2019 16:34 (two days ago) Permalink

Amazing how many bands went all in on singing made-up songs about completely irrelevant storybook crap without fear they'd come off as a bunch of dorks.

can't argue with this at all, I find it endlessly amusing how all-in so many bands went

xp

Οὖτις, Friday, 18 January 2019 16:34 (two days ago) Permalink

man I'd love a S/D thread about over-the-top toytown psych outliers

sleeve, Friday, 18 January 2019 16:36 (two days ago) Permalink

to be clear i also think that it's great and support a bunch of rock dudes discovering it was okay to have feelings and be wistful and be theatrical and cutesy and all that kind of thing. the downside tends to wind up in Songs where the singer/protagonist comes off as a serious dick without meaning to but the upside is a good thing. it's just amazing how big it went and how quickly, from bands who presumably cut their teeth just singing about shaking it on the dance floor or w/e. you'd think there would have been more pushback.

|Restore| |Restart| |Quit| (Doctor Casino), Friday, 18 January 2019 16:38 (two days ago) Permalink

I've been harder on Melouney (the guitarist) than Petersen (the drummer) so far in this thread but Doc I think you're right to call out how clunky and fumbly Petersen could be. This becomes *very* apparent on the next track btw, which Ringo would have absolutely killed but Petersen can barely hold together. I'm not sure why it is that the boys didn't or couldn't attract the sidemen their songs really merited - maybe it was Stigwood, maybe they were just in too much of a hurry - but in both cases it's pretty rare that they bring something really striking or outstanding to the songs, at their best they are competent. To my ears it's Maurice's bass playing that really seems to be the glue in the rhythm section at this stage.

Οὖτις, Friday, 18 January 2019 16:38 (two days ago) Permalink

sleeve: http://www.marmalade-skies.co.uk/toytown1.htm

unfortunately the MP3 links are boring but this is still a great list

Οὖτις, Friday, 18 January 2019 16:39 (two days ago) Permalink

er broken

Οὖτις, Friday, 18 January 2019 16:39 (two days ago) Permalink

ah well, thanks!

sleeve, Friday, 18 January 2019 16:39 (two days ago) Permalink

I think they were in a hurry tbh.

Never Turn Your Back On Virginia Woolf (Tom D.), Friday, 18 January 2019 16:40 (two days ago) Permalink

i am no drummer and have no place criticizing them really but the guy plays like he was originally in the band to play something else, and then the drummer got eaten by a kangaroo. it's not so much total incompetence as an apparent lack of enthusiasm and interest, surely if he was any good he could bring something more to these songs.

but tbf i feel this way about a lot of 'big' bands, and i think in a lot of cases these were like dudes that had been playing in garage bands and high school dances since they were 13, with no obvious bailing-out point as they got bigger. so getting to that Pete Best firing moment would probably be really weird even if the problem were recognized. and then there's cases like The Doors where if oliver stone is to be believed they were purpose-formed to deliver morrison's psychedelic beatnik dross to a bunch of drunks at the whiskey-a-go-go, in which case the fact that their drummer had the precision and verve of a stoned walrus probably did not raise any red flags.

|Restore| |Restart| |Quit| (Doctor Casino), Friday, 18 January 2019 16:47 (two days ago) Permalink

All I can say is it's a good job Chris Franz was going out with the bass player.

Never Turn Your Back On Virginia Woolf (Tom D.), Friday, 18 January 2019 16:51 (two days ago) Permalink

the precision and verve of a stoned walrus

dying

sleeve, Friday, 18 January 2019 16:52 (two days ago) Permalink

they don't really get the session/sidemen they deserve until the 70s when Kendall comes in on guitar and they have a rotating cast of v good drums (the guy from Pentangle, Clem Cattini, etc.) I think by '72 or so they actually have a killer pool of musicians that they would draw on through the 80s.

Οὖτις, Friday, 18 January 2019 16:54 (two days ago) Permalink

Oddly their album with Jim Keltner behind the kit is a total dud to my ears. But we'll get to that later!

Οὖτις, Friday, 18 January 2019 16:56 (two days ago) Permalink

The weird lyrics on this album have changed from psychedelia into...I don’t know what. I find them less convincing and would prefer to hear “Red Chair Fade Away.” “Harry Braff” is like something from a Hermany Hermits record from this period - not necessarily a criticism, it’s not “No Milk Today.”

timellison, Saturday, 19 January 2019 01:17 (yesterday) Permalink

BUT it’s not “No Milk Today”

timellison, Saturday, 19 January 2019 01:18 (yesterday) Permalink

Amazing how many bands went all in on singing made-up songs about completely irrelevant storybook crap without fear they'd come off as a bunch of dorks.

can't argue with this at all, I find it endlessly amusing how all-in so many bands went

― Οὖτις, Friday, January 18, 2019 4:34 PM (yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I guess when it's the trend of the time, it doesn't feel so dorkish!

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Saturday, 19 January 2019 21:25 (yesterday) Permalink


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