Bee Gees, The

Band members                              Related acts

- Joef Bridgford -- drums (1971)
- Barry Gibb -- vocals, guitar (1967-)
- Maurice Gibb (RIP) -- vocals, bass, keyboards (1967-)
- Robin Gibb -- vocals, piano  (1967-)
- Alan Kendall -- guitar (1971)
- Vince Melouney (RIP) -- guitar (1967-69)
- Colin Petersen -- drums (1967-69)


  supporting musicians (1987)

- Reb Beach -- guitar

- Tony Beard -- drums

- Sammy Figueria -- percussion

- Bob Gay -- sax

- Reggie Griffin -- guitar

- Robbie Kondor -- keyboards

- Rhett Lawrence -- keyboards

- Will Lee -- bass

- Arif Mardin -- synthesizer bass

- Joe Mardin -- synthesizers

- Marcus Miller -- bass

- Nick Moroch -- guitar

- Greg Philliganes -- keyboards

- Brian Tench -- percussion programming




- The Bloomfields (Maurice Gibb) 

- The Fut (Mauriece Gibb)

- Barry Gibb (solo efforts)
- Maurice Gibb (solo efforts)
- Robin Gibb (solo efforts)

- Humpy Bong (Colin Petersen)
- Barbara Streisand and Barry Gibb
- Tin Tin (Robin Gibb)
- Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs (Vince Melouney) 




Genre: pop 

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Odessa

Company: ATCO

Catalog: SD-2 702

Year: 1969

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: original faux velvet cover; double LP; gatefold sleeve; minor ring wear; original inner sleeves

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4489

Price: $30.00

Cost: $1.00


Talk about a troubled project.  Apparently feeling themselves under heavy creative pressure to match the competition (notably The Beatles), in terms of musical sophistication, as well as feeling a need to underscore their credentials as more than pretty pop artists, the Gibb brothers set about recording their own concept album. Originally optimistically entitled "Masterpiece", then re-christened "The American Opera", work on the project was repeatedly interrupted by bickering among the brothers; chiefly between Barry and Robin. By the time 1969's "Odessa" was released, the original concept had largely been shelved in favor of a 17 track, double album collection which allowed each Gibb an opportunity to stretch out (shades of The Beatles' "White Album"). Like the former, the album was all over the musical spectrum. While there were plenty of trademarked mournful ballads ('You'll Never See My Face Again', 'Black Diamond', 'Melody Fair'. and 'Sound of Love' - the latter prominently showcasing Robin's irritating faltering falsetto, much of the material was relatively adventuresome,  the trio taking stabs at a slew of different genres. 'Marley Purt Drive' sounded like the brothers had been listening to a great deal of The Band.  'Edison' featured a pseudo-psychedelic sound. 'Never Say Never Again' underscored the trio's knack for catchy pop, while 'Lamplight' came close to conventional rock - the song even sported a drum break!   With the exception of the three extended instrumentals 'Seven Seas Symphony', 'The British Opera' and 'With All Nations' (which were clearly salvaged from the earlier concept album), there was surprisingly little fluff for a double album set. The collection also proved a big seller, hitting top-10 in England and # 20 in the States. (The LP was originally released with a lavish gatefold, red velvet-ish sleeve.)


- Clocking in at over seven minutes, the title track 'Odessa (City on the Black Sea)' was a pretty strange piece of music.  It started out with acoustic guitar and the Bee Gees version of Gregorian chanting.  Curiously the song had even more echo than normal with the brothers sounding like they'd been recording in an empty toilet stall.  The song then morphed into a heavily orchestrated, over-the-top ballad that seemed to have something to do with an English ship (the Veronica) that disappeared the Baltic (though Odessa isn't anywhere near the Baltic regions).  Even though I've listened to it dozens of times, I'm clueless as to what the song's actually about ...  the lyrics seem to reflect a hodgepodge mixture of  historical information and 'Eleanor Rigby'-styled social commentary.  Not exactly a Bee Gees song I'm enthralled with.   rating: ** stars

- A heavily orchestrated acoustic ballad, 'You'll Never See My Face Again' at least featured a more conventional melody and performance.  An added bonus came from the fact the Gibbs didn't employ their stratospheric falsettos on this one.  The result was one of the album's more conventional and enjoyable performances; especially the ending where the track actually sounded a bit like a Beatles outtake.   rating: *** stars

- Showcasing Robin's painful quivering falsetto and those instantly recognizable backing vocals, 'Black Diamond' was another patented tear-jerker ballad.  The first three minutes of this one were pretty excruciating, while the last thirty seconds kicked the song in a far more likeable direction ...    rating: *** stars 

- Until I heard 'Marley Purt Drive' I never imagined the Bee Gees would be able to pull off a country-flavored tune.  Well, this one showed what I knew ...  With Barry handling the lead vocal the song was tuneful and funny at the same time.  Another album highlight.   rating: **** stars

- While I have no idea if they were just goofing around, or were really trying to make a 'big' statement, I've always enjoyed the offbeat 'Edison'.  How many other rock songs can you think that were inspired by one of America's most successful inventors (and the father of the Naval Research Laboratory).   rating: *** stars

- I've always wondered why 'Melody Fair' wasn't tapped as the album's single.  At least to my ears it was actually a better song than 'First of May' (the actual single).  Musically it was a patented Bee Gees ballad sporting all the characteristics you would have expected from one of their top-40 singles - sweet melody, lush orchestration, and the brothers' instantly recognizable harmonies.   rating: *** stars

- If only because it was so different from the rest of the album, 'Suddenly' stood as another personal favorite.  Certainly hearing Barry singing in a lower register was interesting (he sounded surprisingly good) and the weird orchestration, including oboe solo were neat.   rating: *** stars

- Given The Gibbs weren't renown for writing 'rock' songs, 'Whisper Whisper' came as a real surprise; particular the second part of the song which rocked as hard as anything their competitors where doing.    rating: **** stars

- Side three's 'Lamplight' found the group returning to patented ballad territory.  To my ears this one was pretty forgettable with the standout part of the song being the brothers harmony vocals on the catchy chorus.    rating: ** stars

- With its hypnotic keyboard pattern and interesting melody 'Sound of Love' was one of those songs that could have been great.  Unfortunately over-the-top orchestration and an overwrought vocal sapped whatever energy the song had.    rating: ** stars

- Unlike the earlier 'Marley Purt Drive', "Give Your Best' was a hideous stab at bluegrass.  Geez, even Ringo Starr's early country-flavored solo albums sounded better than this.    rating: * star

- The first of three instrumentals, 'Seven Seas Symphony' was pretty, but instantly forgettable.  Probably salvaged from the original stab at a concept album, it would have made dandy soundtrack fodder for one of those period piece movies English majors rave over.    rating: * star

- Ditto the above comments for the second instrumental segment 'With All Nations (International Anthem)'.    rating: * star  

- I guess I'm in the minority here, but I've always found the Gibbs much more enjoyable when they steered away from the falsetto histrionics.  Accordingly 'I Laugh in Your Face' was a success in my book.  The brothers handled the song in a lower register and the song actually had a pretty good melody that managed to withstand the orchestrated onslaught.    rating: *** stars

- In spite of the weird lyrics (which included the couplet 'you said goodbye, I declared war on Spain ...' 'Never Say Never Again' was apparently another song salvaged from the original concept album).  It was also the album's most pop-oriented song with a highly catchy melody that would have made a dandy single.  One of my favorite performances.    rating: *** stars

- Yes, it was released as a single in the States (# 37 pop US), but I've got to tell you that 'First of May' irritates me no end.  Sappy, overblown, and calculated, to my ears it showcased The Bee Gees at their worst.  Barry Gibb was supposedly inspired to write the song given one of his dogs was born on the first of May.     rating: ** stars

- The album closed out with the final instrumental - 'British Opera'.  Like the earlier instrumental sections, it was a pretty, but highly orchestrated piece that sounded like something written for a quickie soundtrack.     rating: * star


Elsewhere ATCO tapped the album for a single.  Reportedly inspired by the birth date of one of Barry's dogs, the song was easily one of the lamer songs on the LP.  Blame manager Robert Stigwood selected the song for release as a single.


promotional ad, US single, Brazilian, South African and German picture sleeves


- 1969's 'First of May' b/w 'Lamplight' (ATCO catalog number 45-6657) # 37 US pop charts


For anyone interested, YouTube has a short clip of the group lip synching the song.  This was apparently taped after Robin had split.


So what to make of this colossus?  Well it's not the overlooked masterpiece some folks have you believe (way too much filler), but is isn't the full scale disaster critics have claimed.  Ultimately it is probably worth tracking down as one of their stranger offerings.


Unfortunately, the album also saw Robin announcing he was leaving the band. In a conciliatory gestured, manager Stigwood responded by suing Robin for breach of contract. 

"Odessa" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Odessa (City on the Black Sea)   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 7:33
2.) You'll Never See My Face Again   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 4:16
3.) Black Diamond   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 3:27

(side 2)

1.) Marley Purt Drive   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 4:26
2.) Edison   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 3:07
3.) Melody Fair   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 3:48
4.) Suddenly   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 2:29
5.) Whisper Whisper   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 3:24

(side 3)

1.) Lamplight   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 4:47
2.) Sound of Love   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 3:27
3.) Give Your Best   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 3:26
4.) Seven Seas Symphony (instrumental)   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 4:09

5.) With All Nations (International Anthem) (instrumental)   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 1:46


(side 4)

1.) I Laugh in Your Face   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 4:09
2.) Never Say Never Again   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 3:28
3.) First of May   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 2:48
4.) British Opera (instrumental)   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 3:17




Genre: pop 

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Cucumber Castle

Company: ATCO

Catalog: SD 33-237

Year: 1968

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Catalog ID: 5223

Price: $15.00


1969's "Cucumber Castle" was released in the midst of ongoing personnel issues.  In the face of long simmering conflict with brother Barry, Robin had recently split in pursuit of a solo career, while longtime sidemen Vince Melouney and Colin Petersen were sacked (Petersen promptly turned around and sued The Bee Gees and manager Robert Stigwood for breach of contract).  With Robin temporarily out of the picture, brothers Barry and Maurice opted to keep The Bee Gees nameplate going with a multi-media project.  As was increasingly common, the album accompanied by a television special which included the two brothers (Barry starring as the King of Cucumbers and Maurice serving as the King of Jello (check out the hysterical inner sleeve photos).  The special also starred Maurice's new wife Lulu, Spike Milligan, and Vincent Price.  Anyone out there actually seen it?   Anyone expecting a major change in the group's patented sound was probably disappointed by the results.  Other than the absence of Robin's unique quivery falsetto, the overall results seldom strayed from the brothers' patented sound which meant lots of mid-tempo, heavily instrumented ballads.  That wasn't meant as a criticism since the Gibbs remained true pop-craftsmen.  With Barry and Maurice credited with penning all ten tracks, 'If Only I Had My Mind On Something Else', 'The You Left Me', 'Lay Down and Die' and 'Turning Tide' were on a par with their earlier catalog.  Virtually any of the ballads could have been a hit, though strung back-to-back it all started to sound similar.   Giving credit where due, the brothers took a couple of minor detours.  'My Thing' had a drifty, pseudo-stoned feel, while 'The Lord', 'Sweetheart  and 'Don't Forget To Remember' found them taking stabs at country -  You've heard worse.  Ironically the standout track 'I.O I.O.' evolved out of an idea Robin came up with after touring Africa.  Complete with African rhythms, it may have been one of the first 'world music' efforts to ever hit top-40 radio.  Released as a single it didn't do much, but it was so different from the normal Bee Gees catalog, as to make it noteworthy.  Elsewhere the album was tapped for a series of three marginally selling singles: 


- 'Don't Forget To Remember ' b/w '' (ATCO catalog number 45-6702)

- 'If Only I Had My Mind On Something Else' b/w '' (ATCO catalog number 45-6741)

- 'I.O I.O.' b/w '' (ATCO catalog number 45-6752)


The parent album also proved a modest success managing to hit # 94 in the States.


"Cucumber Castle" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) If Only I Had My Mind On Something Else   (Barry Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 2:33

2.) I.O I.O.   (Barry Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 2:51

3.) The You Left Me   (Barry Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 3:11

4.) The Lord   (Barry Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 2:19

5.) I was the Child   (Barry Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 3:14

6.) Lay Down and Die   (Barry Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 3:34


(side 2)

1.) Sweetheart   (Barry Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 3:00

2.) Bury Me Down By the River   (Barry Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 3:25

3.) My Thing   (Barry Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 2:20

4.) The Chance of Love   (Barry Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 2:35

5.) Turning Tide   (Barry Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 3:09

6.) Don't Forget To Remember   (Barry Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 3:27




Genre: pop 

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  2 Years On

Company: ATCO

Catalog: SD-33-232

Year: 1971

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; tight seems, looks almost unplayed

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 4488

Price: $15.00

Cost: $1.00


Having split up on extremely bad terms in the wake of 1969's "Odessa", it was a surprise that the brothers managed to patch up their disagreements and return with 1971's "2 Years On".  (The cynic in me says it may have had something to do with the fact their solo projects (okay, technically Barry and Maurice continued The Bee Gees' discography as a duo), did little commercially).  Judging by aching ballads such as 'Man for All Seasons', 'The 1st Mistake I Made' and 'Sincere Relation' the split didn't seem to have had much of an impact on the brothers' trademarked sound.  Mind you there were a couple of minor changes.  Co-produced by Robert Stigwood and the brothers, the album sported crystalline clear sound and is a sonic joy to hear on a high end stereo system.  The other big surprise (and the album highlights) were the short 'Back Home' and 'Every Second, Every Minute'.  Anyone who doubts the Gibbs could rock out needs to hear these little ditties.  Shame they didn't do more in that vein.  Elsewhere, pulled as a single 'Lonely Days' b/w 'Man for All Seasons' (ATCO catalog number 45-6795) provided the brothers with one of their biggest hits.


"2 Years On" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) 2 Years On   (Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 3:57

2.) Portrait of Louise   (Barry Gibb) - 2:34

3.) Man for All Seasons   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 2:58

4.) Sincere Relation   (Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 2;45

5.) Back Home   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 1:55

6.) The 1st Mistake I Made   (Barry Gibb) - 4:05


(side 2)

1.) Lonely Days   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 3:46

2.) Alone Again   (Robin Gibb) - 3:00

3.) Tell Me Why   (Barry Gibb) - 3:13

4.) Lay It On Me   (Maurice Gibb) - 2:07

5.) Every Second, Every Minute   (Barry Gibb) - 3:01

6.) I'm Weeping   (Robin Gibb) - 2:45



Genre: pop 

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  To Whom It May Concern

Company: ATCO

Catalog: SD-7012

Year: 1972

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; tight seams and corners

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4685

Price: $15.00


1972's "To Whom It May Concern" is a mixed blessing.  The ballad heavy track listing ensured long standing fans would be happy.  That said, you can only take so many of these heavily arranged ballads before they begin to sound alike - to my ears the brothers' formula finally starts to sound somewhat tired and worn. Perhaps that's why atypical numbers such as the fuzz guitar propelled 'Bad Bad Dreams', the easy going (and non-falsetto vocal) 'You Know It's For You' and plain goofy tracks like 'Paper Mache, Cabbages & Kings' seem to stand out.   That isn't to say the set is without it's charms and successes.  "Run To Me' is one of their prettier ballads (and a deserved hit), while 'Sea of Smiling Faces' is almost as good and 'We Lost the Road' effectively reflects their overlooked talents as harmony singers.  The real standout track is the Moog propelled 'Sweet Song of Summer'.  A rare stab into outright experimentation complete with backward tapes and odd mid-Eastern drones, it's simply killer!  Elsewhere the album spun off two hit singles:


- 1972's 'Run To Me' b/w 'Road To Alaska' (ATCO catalog number 45-6896)

- 1972's 'Alive' b/w 'Paper Mache, Cabbages & Kings' (ATCO catalog number 45-6909)


The singles coupled with an American tour helped the album hit # 35 on the charts.


"To Whom It May Concern" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Run To Me  (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 3:13

2.) We Lost the Road  (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb) - 3:27

3.) Never Been Alone  (Robin Gibb) - 3:13

4.) Paper Mache, Cabbages & Kings  (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 4:59

5.) I Can Bring Love  (Barry Gibb) - 2:04

6.) I Held a Party  (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 2:31

7.) Please Don't Turn Out the Lights  (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 1:57


(side 2)

1.) Sea of Smiling Faces  (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 3:07

2.) Bad Bad Dreams  (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 3:43

3.) You Know It's For You  (Maurice Gibb) - 2:53

4.) Alive  (Barry Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 4:00

5.) Road To Alaske  (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 2:35

6.) Sweet Song of Summer  (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 5:00





Genre: pop 

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Mr. Natural

Company: RSO

Catalog: SD-4800

Year: 1974

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: cut out notch along spine

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 4677

Price: $10.00

Cost: $1.00


With their audience having all but disappeared, 1974's "Mr. Natural" found The Bee Gees turning to producer Arif Mardin.  Powered by Barry and Robin's unique falsettos, the album is instantly recognizable as a Bee Gees product, but it marked a major change in direction for the brothers.  In fact if you want to hear the roots of what was to become their late-1970s chart domination, then this is the place to start.  Exemplified by tracks such as 'Charade' (who ever thought a clarinet would make for a great make out song) and 'Voices' there are still plenty of the Gibbs' trademarked big ballads, but the brothers seem to have decided that commercial survival required them to toughen up their sound.  Black Sabbath, probably wasn't concerned by the competition, but the Gibbs seldom penned anything as rock oriented as 'Down the Road' or 'Heavy Breathing'.  In fact, the only duff track here is the cheesy ballad 'Give a Hand, Take a Hand' - it's so bad I'm surprised The Hollies didn't cover it.  While the album did squat commercially, song-for-song this may be the strongest set the brothers turned in since their debut.  


"Mr. Natural" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Charade   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb) - 4:12

2.) Throw a Penny   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb) - 4:54

3.) Down the Road   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb) - 3:20

4.) Voices   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 4:58

5.) Give a Hand, Take a Hand   (Barry Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 4:44 


(side 2)

1.) Dogs   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb) - 3:42

2.) Mr. Natural   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb) - 3:46

3.) Lost In Your Love   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb) - 4:47

4.) I Can't Let You Go   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 3:42

5.) Heavy Breathing   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb) - 3:25

6.) Had a Lot of Love Last Night   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 4:07



Genre: pop 

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  E.S.P

Company: Warner Brothers

Catalog: 25541-1

Year: 1987

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6379

Price: $12.00


It's fascinating how quickly popular tastes change in music.  That said The Bee Gees have been one of those groups that have both benefited and suffered from such changes.  Throughout large parts of their career, the Gibbs Brothers have been emulators, chasing popular sounds, but on a couple of occasions they've been musical originators.  Unfortunately, 1987's "E.S.P." found them in the former category.    In spite of the extended break since their last studio LP (1981's "Lying Eyes"), and a new label (their longstanding relationship with Robert Stigwood's RSO Records replaced with a big dollar contract that brought them to Warner Brothers), their overall sound remained instantly recognizable, though the Gibbs seemed to be fishing around for a way to connect with popular mid-1980s genres.  That search wasn't particularly successful - witness half-hearted funk numbers like 'Giving Up the Ghost' and 'This Is Your Life', faceless AOR ditties like the title track', or equally anonymous Brit-synpop ('Overnight').  Had it not been for their shrill voices, about half of this album could have been mistaken for a Quarterflash, or perhaps a Toto album.   Come to think about it, with the Celtic inspired cover (Robin looked like he was wearing a priest's frock on the cover ...),  you might even have even mistaken some of this for a Clannad album ...  The album really did suffer from a very dated mid-1980s sound - heavy production bolstered with lots of cheesy synthesizers washes, epic drums, and virtually everything was wrapped in a harsh, dramatic aural sheen.


- With more lyrics than a novella, the title track started out with some shrill a cappella moves before diving headlong into anonymous AOR power ballad mode.  The song was clearly intended as one of those heavy 'message' tunes, but absent a strong melody, or hook, the bleating synthesizer moves and new-age-ish were wasted on my ears and soul.  'Course that didn't stop Warner Brothers from releasing it as the album's second single.   YouTube has a copy of the accompanying video:   rating: ** stars

- Almost a throwback to their early-1970s catalog, 'You Win Again' was one of the few songs that had a strong, bouncy melody with clear top-40 potential and stood as a performance where the brothers seemed to actually be having a bit of fun.  Even better, Barry and company avoided some of the stratospheric harmony vocals that sent dogs into a panic.  Easy to see why it was tapped as the leadoff single, going on to top the UK charts, though it didn't do all that much in the States (# 74 pop).   YouTube has a clip of the brothers performing the song on the UK Top of the Pops show:

 rating: **** stars

- In case you couldn't guess from the title, 'Live or Die (Hold Me Like a Child)' was one of Barry's more dramatic performances.  Clearly meant as a big, relevant statement, the result was something you'd expect Celine Dion to cover.  Pretty hideous (yes, Barry felt the need to reach for those super high notes), and it didn't even have a very good chorus.   rating: ** stars

- The opening synthesizer bass sounded like they were trying to channel a Morris Day, or a Prince tune, which wouldn't have been a bad thing except for the fact 'Giving Up the Ghost' had about as much funk as a Charmin toilet paper commercial.  Seriously dull misstep here and why did it sound like they were singing from the end of subway line ?   YouTube has a clip of the song being performed live during a 1989 Australian tour and it sounds remarkably good:    rating: *** stars

- Buried in the middle of 'The Longest Night' was a great Bee Gees tune, but in this stilted, arch, and heavily produced rendition whatever charms the tune had were simply lost.  Shame 'cause you could tell the basic melody was a killer.   Also, giving credit where due, hearing Robin Gibb using a deeper and darker timbre than usual was a real revelation.  If you had him pegged as the Gibb with the think reedy falsetto, then this song was a major surprise.  An extra star just for Robin's great vocal ...    rating: *** stars

- Wow, the percussion heavy 'This Is Your Life' was a real mess ...  In an apparently attempt to appeal to the post disco electro-dance floor crowd, the jittery dance track found the brothers sampling some of their earlier hits (along with dollops of Chaka Kahn and Rufus).  Barry even incorporated a short rap sequence ...   Imagine one of those $80 Casio keyboards having shorted out ...   rating: *** stars

- Okay, okay, the ballad 'Angela' was about as adult contemporary as you could get without having to apply for an AARP card.  It wasn't hard to imagine Barbara Streisand wanting to recorded it as a duet with Barry.  That said, there was no arguing the Gibbs could write some insidiously catchy material and this sweet ballad managed to capture them at their creative best - another classic Bee Gees ballad that should make your parents smile.   It was also tapped as the fourth single off the album.   Another promotional video courtesy of YouTube:   rating: **** stars

- Showcasing Maurice on lead vocals (always liked his voice), 'Overnight' found the brothers seeming trying to mesh Brit-synpop with their signature power ballad moves.  An okay track, but nothing to write home about.   rating: *** stars  

- The Bee Gees do Motown ?  That was probably the best way to describe the retro-groover 'Crazy For Your Love'.  On paper this would have sounded terrible, but in spite of the hyper-synthesizer arrangement, they somehow managed to make it work, giving the album a welcomed easy-going pop sound.  One of the album's standout tracks and it was tapped as the third single.   rating: **** stars

- Dipping their collective feet back into hardcore funk, 'Backtafunk' sounded like Hall and Oates trying to do a Temptations song.  There wasn't an original note in the whole song, but I'll admit that it's always been a personal pleasure and Tony Beard turned in some devastating drums.   rating: **** stars

- Who knows why, but the album ended with a brief a cappella reprise of the title track.  Luckily it was short.  rating: ** stars


The album spun off a couple of US singles and several alternative 45s for the UK and other foreign markets:


   US releases:

- 1987's 'E.S.P' b/w 'Will You Ever Let Me Be' (Warner Brothers catalog number 7-22733)

- 1987's 'E.S.P' b/w 'Backtafunk' (Warner Brothers catalog number 7-28351)

- 1987's 'You Win Again' b/w 'Overnight' (Warner Brothers catalog number 7-28931)


  UK and elsewhere:

- 1988's 'Crazy for Your Life' b/w 'You Win Again (remix)' (Warner Brothers catalog number W7966)

- 1988's 'Angela' b/w 'You Win Again' (Warner Brothers catalog number 9279577)


Song for song it wasn't a terrible release, especially when you got acclimated to the highly produced sound and when you realized it was a comeback of sorts coming on the heels of an extended recording break.  Still, with the exception of ''You Win Again', 'Crazy For Your Love', and possibly 'Angela' the results were surprisingly dull and forgettable.  Warner Brothers president Mo Osten must have wondered why he spent so much money signing them to a contract.


"E.S.P." track listing:

(side 1)

1.) E.S.P   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 5:38

2.) You Win Again   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 4:02

3.) Live or Die (Hold Me Like a Child)   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 4:21

4.) Giving Up the Ghost   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 4:26

5.) The Longest Night   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 5:07


(side 2)

1.) This Is Your Life   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 4:50

2.) Angela   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 4:55

3.) Overnight   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 4:20

4.) Crazy For Your Love   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 4:40

5.) Backtafunk   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 4:22

6.) E.S.P. (vocal reprise)   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 0:34