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Barry Gibb Songbook Vol. 1 (Shaven Edition)

August 26th, 2021 Leave a comment Go to comments

On September 1, Barry Gibb will reach the age of 75 — as did Jimmy Webb a couple of weeks ago — which is a good time to post the first of two compilation of songs which Gibb wrote, by himself or in collaboration with his brothers.

This first mix covers the pre-disco, pre-falsetto, pre-beard-and-blowdried-hair, Gibb period, from the Bee Gees’ 1966 UK debut single Spicks And Specks (covered here by Status Quo in their psych-rock incarnation) to 1974’s Charade. The second period in the Barry Gibb songbook will cover the incredible comeback as a disco act, and the work that followed the genre’s decline, mostly for other artists.

Barry Gibb, clean-shaven with a dandy’s shirt, on the cover of Germany’s Bravo magazine of 5 June 1968. (See more Bravo covers and posters at bravoposters.wordpress.com)

I have little knowledge of Barry Gibb’s personal life. I know he has at times fought with his brothers — which is quite natural; brothers can be assholes to each other — and he has mourned the death of his three younger brothers, which is a lot of heartache. He has been married to the same woman for 51 years, which in showbiz is remarkable.

The Gibb brothers were remarkably mature songwriters when they broke big in the latter half of the 1960s. Their lyrics were marked by a great deal of empathy, if sometimes a bit overambitious and occasionally verging on the mawkish. But even when they did so, the tunes usually compensated for such shortcomings. Still, lyrics such as those of, say, How Can You Mend A Broken Hearts (only one choice of versions for this mix!) or To Love Somebody are accompanied by sweet tunes that tell the song’s story.

Bee Gees lyrics could be cryptic. A lot of the masterpiece album Odessa is impenetrable, for example. But that album also included Marley Purt Drive, a storytelling song which is both empathetic and amusing. Odessa, like most Bee Gees material, was produced by the lads themselves. Barry — with and without Maurice and Robin — produced many of his compositions, especially later in their career. But on this mix we can hear P.P. Arnold — a great interpreter of Gibb songs — call out to Barry call out to Barry at the end of her song.

Many songs here are pop standards — Words, I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You, First Of May, New York Mining Disaster 1941, Massachusetts. I like them all, but there’s one Bee Gees hit I really don’t like: the cheesy Don’t Forget To Remember. There are no good covers of it; I include the most bearable of them as a bonus track, alongside three alternative covers of featured songs.

Ah, yes, the beard distinction… I call this first collection the shaven era (guess how I’ll mark Volume 2), but I’m quite aware that Barry started to dabble with facial hair by around 1970. I might not know a lot about the man, but I do know that.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-spicked-and-specked covers. PW in comments.

1. Bee Gees – World (1968)
2. Status Quo – Spicks And Specks (1968)
3. Tim Rose – I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You (1970)
4. P.P. Arnold – Bury Me Down By The River (1969)
5. Sweet Inspirations – To Love Somebody (1968)
6. Al Green – How Can You Mend A Broken Heart (1972)
7. Bettye Swann – Words (1969)
8. Nina Simone – I Can’t See Nobody (1969)
9. Sarah Vaughan – Run To Me (1972)
10. José Feliciano – And The Sun Will Shine (1968)
11. Vicky Leandros – Massachusetts (1967)
12. The Marbles – Only One Woman (1968)
13. Ashton, Gardner & Dyke – New York Mining Disaster 1941 (1970)
14. Richie Havens – I Started A Joke (1969)
15. Lulu – Melody Fair (1970)
16. Bonnie St. Claire – Marley Purt Drive (1969)
17. Jennifer Warnes – In The Morning (1972)
18. Olivia Newton-John – Come On Over (1976)
19. Sandie Shaw – Sun In My Eyes (1969)
20. Matt Monro – First Of May (1972)
21. Dean Martin – Sweetheart (1971)
22. Astrud Gilberto – Holiday (1970)
23. Samantha Sang – Charade (1978)
24. Moulin Rouge – Lonely Days (1979)
Bonus Tracks:
John & Anne Ryder – Don’t Forget To Remember (1969)
Percy Sledge – I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You (1970)
Flying Burrito Bros feat. Gram Parsons – To Love Somebody (1973)
The Wallflowers – I Started A Joke (2001)

GET IT! or HERE!

Previous Songbooks:
ABBA
Ashford & Simpson
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter Vol. 1
Cole Porter Vol. 2
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Rod Temperton
Steely Dan

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  1. amdwhah
    August 27th, 2021 at 12:50 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. rat-a-tat-tat
    September 16th, 2021 at 15:46 | #2

    Thanks for taking the time to put this together, and I eagerly await Vol.2.

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