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50 St Catherine’s Drive – Review (at last!)

Yeah, okay, I know that this has taken way longer than it should have.

The reasons are numerous and, in some cases, personal but they all conspired to me not doing anything on here until now.

As a die-hard Bee Gees fan, I so wanted to love this album when it came out back in September 2014. I wanted it to be a fitting epitaph to a brilliant career of wonderful music and lyrics. But after the first five hearings I still wasn’t feeling too positive about it. This is nothing new with me … if I’m not in a good place mentally it seems to affect how I feel about music, even if it’s made by my favourite bands.

So, taking that into account I left it six months, coming back to it in April of this year and it was like listening to a different album. I can hear you all questioning “So, why didn’t you write this back in April?”. Well, this is where the ‘personal reasons’ comes in … unfortunately my mum died. That obviously pust a large spanner in the works, but now I think I’m finally starting to get things back on track.

In (re)writing this I am editing the original version that would have been posted back in September 2014, if I hadn’t thought better of it!

It’s interesting going back to the original stuff I wrote, that I was actually less than impressed – actually “scathing” is probably a better word! – with the second half of the album, to quote:

Most of the songs are – and I can’t believe I’m going to put this in writing – depressing

Oh, wow … I think this points more to my state-of-mind than what I was listening to!

Reviews I read at the time spoke of the need to stay neutral when reviewing this album, given that it contained many of the last songs that Robin produced. I for one love those classic, plaintive, ‘Robin vibrato’ vocals and was hoping that this album would return to them. Of course, this wasn’t going to happen. The man was older and wiser .. and, in fact, there are some songs that woudn’t actually have suited that type of vocal.

I know that there are ‘superfans’ out there who love every track just ‘because’ it’s Robin Gibb. I can’t do that, though. I have been critical of Bee Gees albums in the past, and it’s mainly due the fact that I felt that they could have done (a lot) better.

However, this world is never going to be perfect and every artist has their ups and downs and it’s a shame that Robin won’t get a chance to show that he can do better.

So, enough banter … let’s get into the songs …

Days Of Wine And Roses

8/10
A nice song. Not your typical album opener, starting off, as it does, with a plaintive piano and a nice Robin vocal. In places I think this has similarities with songs from Sing Slowly Sisters. After a couple of minutes, though, the song builds up into something stronger – more of a ‘power ballad’.

Instant Love

10/10
Great song. One of the few that I liked on the first listen. This is definitely Robin at his best and, in my opinion, the vocals on this track are some of the best I’ve heard from him. Catchy chorus.

Alan Freeman Days

5/10
Not a fan of this song. Of course I know who Alan Freeman was, but quite why this should be a ‘song’ is beyond me. It sounds like something that should be on a tacky tribute album. Best bit on this song is the “my brother Maurice is staying alive” lyric.

Wherever You Go

9/10
Had the demo of this – then called “Wing and A Prayer” – for ages, so I was waiting for this. From the opening bars with lyrics from “Sing Slowly Sisters” it’s a strong song that harkens back to that early 70’s period but sufficiently modernised to be relevant today.

I Am The World

6/10
It’s always interesting when artists re-visit their old songs and try to update them. This song is about as basic as you can get so there wasn’t really anywhere for it go. This new version is pretty much the old one with a few lyric changes and a slightly different melody. It’s a heavier-sounding version, which maybe could have worked with more lyric changes but I guess that would have made it a different song.

Mother Of Love

8/10
Previously released on the “Christmas Carols” album. Emotional lyrics and some vague hints of the Robin vibrato vocal.

For reasons that will be obvious if you’ve been reading this properly, I still can’t listen to this song without turning into a snivelling wreck.

Anniversary

7/10
There aren’t many artists that can make the “slow-temp/up-tempo/slow-tempo/up-tempo” thing work and I’m not sure that this was the right song to try it with. I think it would have worked a lot better as an up-tempo number, because it’s obviously a song of celebration. Generally, though, it’s a nice song.

Sorry

9/10
This one does the “slow-tempo/up-tempo” thing a whole lot better, mainly because the “up-tempo” parts aren’t too heavy.

Cherish

10/10
This track wouldn’t be out of place on any Bee Gees album. A catchy little R’n’B track that deserves a wider audience.

Don’t Cry Alone

9/10
Previously released on “Titanic Requiem”. This song showcases just how fantastic Robin’s voice is. We’ll never know why he never used it to its’ full potential, which is frustrating when you hear songs like this.

Avalanche

8/10
Just so you know – this is not the song from Sing Slowly Sisters. This is a new song that just happens to have the same name, which I’m thinking is a copyrighter’s nightmare! This has an up-tempo number with a catchy chorus – although the drum machine could have been turned down a notch!

One Way Love

8/10
A nice up-beat track with some short falsetto vocal passages, which was interesting to hear on a Robin solo track. Another one that, in a better world, could have become a Bee Gees song.

Broken Wings

8/10
The previous release of this was by Robin and Valeriya back in 2008, despite it being the second recording. This (I guess) is the original Robin-only version and it works better – for me it never sounded like a proper ‘duet’-type song. Another little falsetto ‘ripple’ on this. This lost a point because of the ‘scratching’ and other little bits that were obviously included to make it more ‘modern’!

Sanctuary

10/10
Love this song. Great, catchy tune and catchy lyrics to match, all done in a lower vocal range to previous songs. Although the deeper voice makes it difficult to hear some of the lyrics, it’s a nice one to listen to if you’re feeling a little bit down.

Solid

6/10
This is a bit more sedate, although it builds slightly for the chorus. For some reason the music is mixed a lot louder than the vocal on this one, so a lot of the time the voice is lost and you can’t hear the lyrics very easily. This may be why I found myself losing interest in this song.

All We Have Is Now

7/10
Another ‘power ballad’. Again, some vocals get lost in the music – not as much as the previous song because at least you can make out most of the lyrics. Could’ve been a nice song if the mix was different. As it stands it’s not one that I come back to very often.

Sydney (Demo)

9/10
What more fitting ending to Robin’s final album than the demo of his last recording. Reportedly made on an iPad with the Garage Band app, the song has some really beautiful lyrics. It’s sung with real feeling considering it’s a demo and the over-dubbing of vocals creates a nice feeling of harmony – how would we all liked to have heard this with Barry’s vocal added to it?

Final thoughts

“Alan Freeman Days” doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the tracks.

I also think the addition of the other tracks from the album sessions “Don’t Go Now” and “My Personal 9/11” would have been better than adding the previously released “Mother of Love” and “Don’t Cry Alone”, to provide fans with a complete album of new material.

Overall this is a strong album and by no means the “stinker” that I originally thought it was.

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50 St Catherine’s Drive

I know I may have been appearing to neglect this site but there hasn’t really been that much to put up.  I’m happy to receive suggestions if there’s anything in particular than anyone wants to see – I will do my utmost to oblige.

I have been (and will continue) updating the news stories with the more interesting items as and when I find them – latest update for this years’ items was added today (click here for the list).

So, the wait is finally over (well almost!) – Robin’s last recorded material is to be released in September.  For full track listing and other info you can read the full press release here:  https://app.box.com/s/ngvd9pqn0j4kj7lee51l (or you can download it from the “Box” panel on the right).

The excitement is building and I for one can’t wait to hear it.  There will, of course, be a review here at some point following release.

 

Update:  Amazon have one track from this album available to download.  So get to your local Amazon and download the new version of “I Am The World“*

 

*Link to the UK site

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Plaque Unveiled

Robin plaque 2012-09-30

The Heritage Foundation blue plaque has been unveiled earlier this afternoon at his home in Oxfordshire, The Prebendal.

Following some nice words from D.J. Mike Reid and composer Tim Rice, the plaque was unveiled by Robin’s widow Dwina and son R.J.

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Barry on tour and a statue in the offing.

So … apologies for being away from this longer than expected.  Pressures on work and … blah-de-blah!

Barry On Tour

It probably hasn’t already escaped your collective notice that Barry has announced a tour starting in February 2013 in Australia.

This is welcome news indeed for fans the world over and it will, no doubt, an emotional return for barry to his childhood home, especially since it will be without his brothers.

According to the reports, Barry and Robin had  been planning some comeback shows prior to Robin falling seriously ill earlier this year.  This tour is going to Barry’s way of honouring those plans by opening the tour in Australia.

But the start of the tour will be more than just about the music.   Apparently Barry also wants to visit the former Gibb home in Redcliffe, as well as the places the Bee Gees performed in the mid-1960s.

It will be a sentimental journey. Coming home to Australia will be a wake-up call for me. I love the place so much and I think I will always feel like the 12-year-old kid who loved the beach and the girls during summer holidays

I want to see the places we grew up, even if the buildings aren’t there any more. I’m coming home to find some kind of closure after losing my three brothers, to reflect and go over all those memories.Gibb said from his Miami home.

It was great to read that the tour will keep the Gibb family’s connection with music going, with Barry’s eldest son, Stephen, and Maurice’s daughter, Samantha, joining him on the tour and contributing to a compilation to celebrate the group’s 50th anniversary.

Tickets go on on sale from October 5.

Memorial Statue

Talk of a memorial statue of the Bee Gees has been rife since Robin’s untimely death, but in the past couple of weeks it seems to have become a reality.

Statue model2During an interview with Australia’s Channel 7 ‘Sunday Night’ programme on September 23rd, Barry was presented with a small model of the proposed statue.

Just that day reports from the Australian press showed that the campaign had picked up pace with donation boxes being placed in shops and businesses in Brisbane and Redcliffe to help raise the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed.

Reports now say that the statue will be unveiled some time next year by the town’s mayor.  I think it’s fair to say that, whenever it’s unveiled, the statue is bound to become an iconic location and place of pilgrimage for Bee Gees fans the world over.

Plaque Unveiling

On September 30 2012, a plaque will be unveiled in memory of Robin Gibb.

The event has been organised by the Heritage Foundation, of which Robin was chairman.   The plaque will be placed outside The Prebendal – Robin’s home in Thame – and will be unveilied by members of his family.

Following this, there will be a garden party at his Priestend home in his memory at around 2pm.  Tickets can be purchased from the Heritage Foundation.

Thame Museum will be putting on a display celebrating Robin’s life and influence in Thame.

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Will the World ever truly see the Gibbs as great songwriters?

It seems to take an event of great emotional tragedy for people to fully appreciate talent and this appears to be particularly true of the Gibb brothers.

One might think that the lessons would have been learned after the death of Andy Gibb back in 1988 but, certainly after Maurice’s death in 2003, the general public still seemed to regard them with a certain amount of contempt.

Only following the death of Robin Gibb have all the closet Bee Gees fans finally surfaced.  I daresay that at least some of them are genuine fans previously too embarrassed to admit their liking for the band.  I also expect that many more are purely “jumping on the bandwagon”, in the wake of renewed interest in the Gibbs’ music following Robin’s passing.

Continue Reading »

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Robin Gibb

10:47pm on 20 May will be a time Bee Gees fans the world over will never forget.

It was at that moment that Robin Gibb left the mortal world.   It was at that moment the world lost a musical giant.  More importantly, it was the moment his wife and children lost their hero, Barry Gibb lost his last surviving brother and Barbara Gibb lost yet another son.

Most of us, myself included, can only imagine how the family has coped with tragedy after tragedy.  It would likely break any normal family to have gone through what they’ve been through (and are going through once more).

Continue Reading »

Discography complete

You’ll be pleased to hear that the discography is now complete up to 2014 with the track list for Robin’s forthcoming album.  I will update it again once I’ve got the CD and been able to scan the cover.

The remaining parts, just uploaded to the download section, are:

Part 3 (1990-1999)

Part 4 (2000-2009)

Part 5 (2010-2014)

Discography part 2

It’s been over two years since I put up Part 1, so I figured it was high time I got my finger out and finished it.

Well … it is isn’t finished! But I have progressed through the 1980’s so Part 2 takes you from 1981-1989.  I’m planning on updating the rest in more manageable decade chunks, so hopefully it will all be complete by Christmas (if not sooner, depending on how much free time I get).

Head over to the download area on the right and look for the PDF entitled “Bee Gees Part 2 (1981-1989)”.

Enjoy!

My word! How quickly time flies!

I was surprised at how long it had been since I had put up any kind of update on this blog.  I can only apologise to the faithful amongst you, as well as the few new followers.

That work-thing seems to have got in the way again.

Even though I’ve not been posting I have continued to update the news articles whenever I’ve had the chance – in case you missed it, I’ve just updated the 2013 articles page today.  I also added links to the first couple of albums in the Original Albums list – this is now complete.  The pics are also in the Albums section of the Picture Galleries.

Barry’s recent tour would seem to have been a great success.  Many videos have been uploaded to YouTube and I will be updating the video links to include some of the better quality ones – this week, hopefully!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to the O2 in London as I had planned, mostly down to the ticket price!  I’m sure that was dictated by the venue because I didn’t see another band  that played there recently, again because of silly ticket prices.

Either that or this is now the “norm”, in which case I suppose I won’t be going to another concert. Ever!

What’s happened to the Chronology?

I know many of you have downloaded the first part of the illustrated Chronology, for which I thank you and hope you liked it.

I haven’t had a chance to complete the second part yet.  It has been started and I will continue to work on it when I can, but I don’t envision it will be ready for uploading until Christmas when I have a couple of weeks off work.

A new Robin Gibb album?

I suspect that many of you will have heard the rumours of a forthcoming album of Robin’s solo material – some reports say it will be the unreleased 50 St Catherine’s Drive album or a combination of some of those songs and other unreleased material.

It has been suggested that release will come next year.  This is fantastic news and it would be nice to see this come to fruition.

I don’t know any more than the rest of you at this point, but I will keep my ear to the ground and as soon as there’s any news I will post it here.

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Lifetime Honour for Barry

Barry Gibb is to be honoured with a lifetime achievement award (officially named the Sony Mobile Lifetime Achievement Award) at next month’s O2 Silver Clef Awards.

The award will celebrate a career during which he and the Bee Gees are estimated to have sold upwards of 220 million albums.

The Bee Gees won a Special Achievement award at the same event back in 1993.

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