Band members Related acts
line-up 1 (1970-2012)
- Robin Gibb (RIP 2012) -- vocals, guitar, keyboards, drums
supporting musicians (1970)
- Maurice Gibb (RIP) -- keyboards, bass
- The Anti-Heroin Project
- The Bunburys
- Man Doki Soulmates
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Title: Robin's Reign
Catalog: SD 33-323
Grade (cover/record): VG/+VG+
Comments: minor ring wear; small bullet hole top right corner
Catalog ID: 4146
By the late 1960s The Bee Gees had become worldwide superstars, but were beginning to come apart at the seams. The trappings of fame (including substance abuse issues) led to infighting among the Gibb brothers. It all came to a head in 1969 when the Robin Gibb composition 'Lamplight' was relegated to the "B" side of The Bee Gees' single 'First of May' (ATCO catalog number 45-6657). Furious at what he saw as a personal slight, in March 1969 Robin tendered his notice. Interestingly, at least to my ears, Robin's song was far stronger than Barry's 'First of May'.
Still under contract to ATCO (Polydor owning distribution rights outside of the US), 1970's "Robin's Reign" was co-produced by Gibb, Anthony Browne and Vic Lewis,. To no one's surprise the album could easily have been mistaken for a Bee Gees collection. The spotlight was clearly on Robin's instantly identifiable quivery, fragile voice. Legions of fans had flocked to by the Bee Gees singles he'd been featured on . Credited with penning all eleven tracks, for me the biggest surprise here was simply the fact Gibb proved himself to be every bit as talented as older brothers Barry and Maurice. Exemplified by power ballads such as 'Gone Gone Gone', 'Down Came the Sun' and 'The Worst Girl In This Town', nothing on the album was particularly original or groundbreaking, but the overall caliber of material actually exceeded much of the stuff being released by his two brothers during the same timeframe (check out their "Cucumber Castle" LP). Aurally Gibb's falsetto sounded kind of dated, with most of the ballads being buried in that unique Bee Gees 'wall of sound' orchestration that you either loved, or found cloying. Lyrically the set was certainly depressing (understandable given the circumstances), but there were a couple of highlights among the non-stop tales of pain, lost love and woe. While fans were clearly here for the ballads, the overwhelming number of slow tunes just dragged the album down - to my ears they just kind of blended into each other. With an upbeat melody (but a suitably depressing lyric - apparently about a mother and son about to be evicted), the only real exception was 'Mother and Jack'. Admittedly it was a ballad, but sounding like a Gregorian chant, 'Lord Bless All' was so weird, it warranted a spin. And if you were going to pick a ballad, then the closer 'Most of My Life' at least sported a pleasant melody with Gibb's multi-tracked vocals making it sound like a decent Bee Gees release. As you can tell, even though I wanted to like the album, I wasn't bowled over. Legions of Bee Gees fans will disagree so check out a couple of the songs and make your own decision.
"Robin's Reign" track listing:
1.) August October (Robin Gibb) - 2:32 rating: * star
As I get older I find Robin's nasally voice increasingly irritating. When it's paired with a sappy ballad like the tuneless and over-orchestrated 'August October' my inclination is to simply skip the song. For some reason the tune also sounded like it had been recorded at the back of a big, dark cave. Why in the world would ATOC have tapped this as the single? No idea when or where it was filmed, but there's a video of Gibb lip-synching the tune for what appears to be some television program: Robin Gibb - August October (Official Music Video) - YouTube
- 1970's 'August October' b/w 'Give Me a Smile' (ATCO catalog number 45-6737)
2.) Gone Gone Gone (Robin Gibb) - 2:34 rating: *** stars
Instantly recognizable as a Robin Gibb performance, 'Gone Gone Gone' was another fragile, precious and over-orchestrated ballad. At least the song wasn't as saccharine and painful as the opener.
3.) The Worst Girl In This Town (Robin Gibb) - 4:30 rating: ** stars
Hey boys and girls, how about a ballad? Complete with martial drumming and some of the weirdest harmonies you'll ever hear, 'The Worst Girl In This Town' was just plain strange. Once again the mix sounded like it had been recorded in a deep cave. No idea when or where it was filmed, but YOuTYbe has a promotional video for the song: 1970 The Worst Girl In This Town Robin - YouTube
4.) Give Me a Smile (Robin Gibb) - 3:06 rating: ** stars
'Give Me a Smile' was another ballad, but had one of the album's more pop oriented melodies; complete with some extremely MOR horns.
5.) Down Came the Sun (Robin Gibb) - 2:44 rating: ** stars
Geez, if you thought Phil Spector slathered on heavy arrangements then you need to check out Kenny Clayton's heavy-handed work on 'Down Came the Sun'. Anyone have a clue what the song as about?
6.) Mother and Jack (Robin Gibb) - 4:04 rating: *** stars
The opening percussion sounded like a late-'70s drum machine. Luckily, the relatively bouncy 'Mother and Jack' finally broke the string of sentimental ballads. Yeah, the lyric was downbeat and depressing, but at least it wasn't another ballad ...
1.) Saved By the Bell (Robin Gibb) - 3:04 rating: ** stars
Serving as Robin's first solo effort, 'Saved By the Bell' was a "big" Bee Gees styled ballad. It made sense given those ballads had been Robin's trademarked style. His voice was immediately recognizable from those efforts, so why would anyone have expected a drastic change in direction? The good news was Bee Gees fans were likely to have fawned over the romantic, highly orchestrated ballad. Non-fans were probably going to be less enamored. Technically the tune wasn't actually a Robin solo effort since the basic track was apparently recorded with brother Maurice prior to Robin's official departure from the band. YouTube has a black and white promotional video for the song. Robin Gibb - Saved By The Bell (1969) - YouTube
- 1970's 'Saved By the Bell' b/w 'Mother and Jack' (ATCO catalog number 45-6698)
2.) Weekend (Robin Gibb) - 2:10 rating: ** stars
Robin certainly had a unique voice and surrounded by an elaborate horns and strings arrangement , 'Weekend' allowed you to hear both his strengths and weaknesses. Double tracking his vocals really didn't do a great deal to make this more enjoyable for me. The track was released as a promotion single in the States.
3.) Farmer Ferdinand Hudson (Robin Gibb) - 3:04 rating: ** stars
Originally titled 'Hudson's Fallen Wind', the ominous opening orchestration left me wondering what was about to happen. Needless to say it served to introduce another ballad. 'Farmer Ferdinand Hudson' found Gibb sounding even more forlorn than normally, though the treated lead guitar was momentarily interesting. Darn if I have a clue what this one was about.
4.) Lord Bless All (Robin Gibb) - 3:14 rating: **** stars
Hum, very stark and dark, 'Lord Bless All' featured Gibb on what sounded like a Gregorian chant. Just Gibb, backed by what sounded like a Hammond B3 and some backing vocalists, this one was not going to get a crowd out on the dance floor. Still, I'll give it an extra star for being so different and for showing Gibb was quite a capable singer.
5.) Most of My Life (Robin Gibb) - 5:12 rating: *** stars
One final ballad - 'Most of My Life' featured Gibb's multi-tracked lead vocals (which gave it a very Bee Gees feeling) and at least a mildly memorable melody. It probably would have been a better choice as a single than 'August October'.
BACK TO BADCAT FRONT PAGE
BACK TO BADCAT CATALOG PAGE
BACK TO BADCAT PAYMENT INFORMATION