Tuesday, February 7, 2017

From The Brothers GIbb

The Bee Gees (Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb) wrote a host of tracks in the 1960's. Some were never recorded by their band, others cut by them were never released outside Australia. Here's ten 60's Gibb brothers compositions from all around the world.

Scan c/o 45cat.com

1. SANDS-"Mrs Gillespie's Refrigerator" U.K. Reaction 591017 1967
Predictably Robert Stigwood's Reaction label saw quite a few compositions recorded by other artists written by his charges The Bee Gees. The curiously titled "Mrs Gillespie's Refrigerator" is unique in that the author's never issued their own version and as far as I can ascertain neither did anyone else. The Sands (who were previously the r&b group The Others) do make use of some Gibb brothers style harmonies, lacing the track with some searing guitars and pop hooks and turning it into one of the genre's most sought after 45's.


2. THE MONTANAS-"Top Hat" U.K. Pye 7N 17338 1967
Previously released downunder by Ronnie Burns (Spin EK-1578 January 1967), The Montanas used this Barry Gibb composition as the flip side to "Take My Hand" in June of the Summer of Love. Eschewing the raga feel of the Bee Gee's original, The Montanas turn it into a full on cheeky chappie pop psych meets freakbeat number with loads of "la la la's" and a heap of distorted guitars.


3. UNIT 4 PLUS 2-"Butterfly" U.K. Fontana TF 840 1967
Two years prior to The Marmalade's version Unit 4 Plus 2 issued this far superior reading infusing their usual folky/acoustic guitar styling with precision harmonies. To my ears it stands shoulders above their usual mundane boho "Kumbaya" material and is a perfect indication of how their post '66 material was far superior to anything they did previously.


4. JON -"Upstairs Downstairs" Australia Leedon LK-1662 1967
Jon was one Jon Blanchfield who went on to have a successful singing career in his native Australia. "Upstairs Downstairs" was tucked away on the flip of his debut single, a version of the brother's Gibb's "The Town Of Tuxley Toymaker" (also cut by Billy J Kramer). It's a frantic piece of amphetamine driven pop angst (presumably cut on top of a Bee Gees backing track as their backing vocals are more than audible) and is one of my favorite 60's Australian records.


Scan c/o 45cat.com

5. NOEL ODOM & THE GROUP-"I Can't See Nobody" US Uptown 763 1968
Released on the obscure Uptown label (home of Gloria Jones, The Chocolate Watchband and even The Shotgun Express) this blue eyed soul reading of "I Can't See Nobody" was the first of two singles Noel Odom cut for the label.  Awash in Hammond organ and some heavy production the number is a curious mix of obvious Vanilla Fudge influences (without being monotonous or too long) and soulful British 60's r&b influences ala The Spencer Davis Group.


6. OSCAR-"Holiday" U.K. Reaction 591016 1967
I had wanted to profile Joe Pesci's version cut as Little Joe (US MGM 55369 1968) but I couldn't find it on YouTube.  This was Oscar's fourth and final single for Robert Stigwood's Reaction label and a dead clunker it was. It's overwrought, overblown and pointless....next.


7. STATUS QUO-"Spicks And Specks" U.S. Cadet Concepts 7010 1968
The Quo's reading of The Bee Gee's first massive Australian hit was included on both the US and UK pressings of their debut LP and was issued in the States on the B side of "Technicolor Dreams". It doesn't differ much from the original save the addition of some Farfisa but it's well suited to their sound.


8. THE CYRKLE-"Red Chair Fade Away" U.S. Columbia 4-44491 1968
American pop group The Cyrkle had previously cut a version of the Bee Gee's "Turn Of The Century" as an A-side the year before cutting this number from the Gibb's 1st US long player on their "Neon" album and also issuing it as the flip to "Where Are You Going?". It doesn't deviate much from the original but adds some cool horns on top of the lush orchestration and in fact manages to better the Bee Gees in it's pop psych whimsy.


Scan c/o 45cat.com

9. RONNIE BURNS-"Coalman" Australia E.P. track Spin E.P. EX 11,314 1967
Australian Ronnie Burns cut an entire 4 track E.P. of Bee Gee's compositions (including the track above) and a host of others.  Curiously some of the brother's Gibb tracks I have heard by him utilize the Bee Gee's version's music (and even their backing vocals) but this one was re-recorded. "Coalman" is my favorite even though the lyrics are a tab sublime and with some ludicrous rhymes ("coal man"= "soul man") it's a bizarre little tune worth investigating. Curiously it became one of Burn's biggest selling 45's.


10. TREVOR GORDON & THE BEE GEES-"Little Miss Rhythm And Blues" Australia Leedon LK-924 1965
First unearthed back in the 80's by Aussie 60's expert Glenn A. Baker for the first volume of  his 60's downunder series "Ugly Things" , this 1965 number see's U.K. transplant Trevor Gordon backed by the Bee Gee's (they wrote both sides of this 454 and the previous release as well). Despite it's 1965 release date the track sound incredibly dated, almost pre-beat music, but not at all without charm.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Long time reader of your blog and a big Bee Gees fan - keep up the good work! Just to let you know that the Bee Gees recorded up to 3 versions of "Mrs. Gillespie's Refrigerator"

1. 1966 recording - submitted to Stigwood on a demo acetate - never released, presumed lost
2. 1967 recording - "Horizontal" outtake - released as a bonus track on the 2006 issue - it's provenance seems unknown so it could be the above version
3. 1967 BBC recording - closer to The Sands' version with bass kind of acting as the lead instrument

The Bee Gees I find fascinating and severely underrated during their 60s and some of their early 70s period. Pearls hidden in schlock - not a big fan of the OTT orchestral accompaniment and the overuse of vibrato but there is genuine genius often lurking even in their worst excesses.