I think it’s fair to say that the ‘Living Eyes’ album is not the most-loved project that the Gibb boys have ever come up with. Personally, I wouldn’t call it a favourite but I also wouldn’t write it off completely. There are some good tunes in amongst the poor ones.
The ‘demos’ CD that has circulated doesn’t actually contain the unreleased ‘Heat of the Night’ or the other three unfinished tracks, but since I have them from other sources I’ve included them here.
I’m not going to plagiarize Joe Brennan’s good work but anyone interested should read his background write-up on the recording sessions. It makes for very interesting reading.
1. Living Eyes
Very similar to the final version with very little difference of note, except that it is missing the ad-lib overdub over the chorus fade
2. He’s A Liar
Again, similar to the finished song. Slightly faster (at least it seems so to my non-musical ears!) and the backing track has yet to be built up.
3. He’s A Liar (first cast)
This is similar to the ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ casting. Barry sings to a drum machine / guitar backing – not many lyrics but he ‘sings’, not just how the lyrics should flow, but also how additional musical arrangements fit. It’s interesting to listen to for similar reasons as ‘How Deep…’ – a great insight into how Barry works up a song before the musicians get near it.
Another one where Barry sings a melody without many words, apart from the chorus and into the second verse.
5. Don’t Fall In Love With Me
Almost the finished track. Those typical ad-lib overdubs are missing, but generally the vocal is complete, including the harmonies.
6. Don’t Fall In Love With Me (second demo)
At first it sounds like this might be an earlier version because the instrumental track is different; but then the vocal is a lot closer to the finished song compared to the previous track, including the ad-libbing.
This track is similar the final version, without some of the finer parts of the instrumental track – most notably the drums. Barry’s vocal is pretty much the same and is complete in that there are no lyrical differences.
8. I Still Love You
Again, this sounds almost complete in terms of the vocal; only some adjustments to the instrumental tracks and you would have the final songs.
Once more a song that’s a shade off the finished version. Maurice’s vocal is almost unchanged – the inflections are all there. Maurice’s vocal is prominent in the harmony vocal, something that was evened out in the final recording. I actually prefer the way it’s done on the demo – we never heard enough of Maurice!
10. Crying Every Day
We’re missing the beginning of this one (or maybe it’s just me!). Almost complete, except that Barry sounds like he can’t be bothered on the “can here be any wonder …” parts!
11. Be Who You Are
This is a nice, simple, version of this song. It sounds so much better without all the palaver of an orchestra – sometimes simple is better!
12. Heat of the Night
The only one of the unreleased songs that is anywhere near finished. It wouldn’t have been out-of-place on the album – possibly replacing ‘Be Who You Are’. It would’ve been interesting to hear this with full orchestration.
13. City of Angels
Hardly any lyrics. Just vocal noises to a proposed lyrical melody – maybe they couldn’t come up with words to fill the flow. Shame because it sounds like it could have been a good one.
14. Mind Over Matter
Starting off with the dreaded drum machine, heading into a nice instrumental track. A Barry ‘normal’ vocal. A few more lyrics than City of Angels (but not many!). Again, it sounds like it could have been a good song if it had been finished.
15. The Promise You Made
This doesn’t fit in with the previous songs. It has a slight ‘country’ vibe and wouldn’t have been out-of-place on Kenny Rogers’ album. The lyrics aren’t complete, but there are enough of them to be able to get a feel for the song.
I reckon that if #12, 13 and 14 had been worked up ‘Living Eyes’ could have been a totally different album. Probably still not as successful as the previous few albums, but certainly not the poorly-received beast that it turned out to be.
Next up: Demos for Robin’s solo album ‘How Old Are You’