Bee Gees' 1st

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Bee Gees' 1st
Studio album by Bee Gees
Released 14 July 1967 (UK)
9 August 1967 (US)
Recorded 7 March – 14 April 1967
IBC Studios, London, England
Genre Psychedelic rock, psychedelic pop, baroque pop, art rock
Length 37:39
Label Polydor (UK)
Atco (US)
Producer Robert Stigwood, Ossie Byrne
Bee Gees studio albums chronology
Spicks and Specks
(1966)
Bee Gees' 1st
(1967)
Horizontal
(1968)
Singles from Bee Gees' 1st
  1. "New York Mining Disaster 1941"
    Released: April 1967
  2. "To Love Somebody"
    Released: June 1967
  3. "Holiday"
    Released: September 1967
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]

Bee Gees' 1st is the third studio album by the Bee Gees, released 14 July 1967 in the United Kingdom, and 9 August 1967 in the United States. Despite the album's title, it was not their first full-length recording; the first was The Bee Gees Sing and Play 14 Barry Gibb Songs (1965). It was, however, their first album to be released 'internationally', as their first two LPs were only available in Australia and New Zealand. Bee Gees' 1st was the group's debut album for the UK Polydor label, and for the US Atco label.[2] Bee Gees 1st was released in 14 July 1967 in the UK. In 9 August it entered the UK charts, on that same day, the album was released in the US, and it entered the US charts in 26 August. After its release, the band became more self-sufficient, producing and mixing many of their own releases.[3]

Reflecting the group's early style, Bee Gees' 1st was a psychedelic rock album. The album cover was designed by Klaus Voormann who had previously done the cover for Revolver by the Beatles, Bee Gees 1st peaked at No. 7 on Billboard's Pop Albums chart and at No. 8 on the UK Albums Chart. In 2006, Reprise Records (sister label to Atco under Warner Music Group) reissued the album with both stereo and mono mixes on one disc and a bonus disc of unreleased songs and alternate takes. (This 2-CD set on Reprise corrected the fluttering on the lead-off stereo track "Turn of the Century". The mono version never had this problem.)

History[edit]

Colin Petersen and Vince Melouney, both Australians, were hired to make the Bee Gees into a band; Petersen on drums and Melouney on lead guitar. Both played on the first English album and became official members of the group shortly after it was completed and before it was released. Petersen had played with the Bee Gees at St. Clair studio in 1966 on the Spicks and Specks sessions and was officially added first, accounting for some early photos with him and not Melouney, such as the one later used on the cover of Best of Bee Gees. Melouney had worked with the Gibbs in 1966 in Australia when he recorded his first solo single "Mystery Train" as the brothers provided backing vocals on the song. Melouney had been lead guitarist in top Australian band, Billy Thorpe & the Aztecs, later led his own group The Vince Melouney Sect and had most recently been in The Blue Jays based in Melbourne.[4] and Melouney heard that the Gibb brothers were in town and made contract, he was asked to join them with Petersen in the band's recording sessions and after this album was completed, Melouney became the fifth official member of the band.[5]

Most of the band's recording for the next five years took place at IBC Studios. Robert Stigwood had booked his artists into IBC for years, most recently Cream, The Who, The Small Faces and Jimi Hendrix who were among other well-known names who recorded there. IBC had four track recording facilities, the standard in Britain at the time, even with The Beatles' famous Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band released the same year. The Bee Gees also recorded at various other studios during this first year in England.[4] Melouney was only an unofficial member of the group until Bee Gees 1st was released.

Recording[edit]

On 13 March, the Bee Gees remixed and overdubbed three songs started on 7 March; "New York Mining Disaster 1941", "I Can't See Nobody" and "Red Chair, Fade Away". They then moved on to two new ones: the rocker "I've Got to Learn" which was taken no further and "Cucumber Castle" which would be continued days later. The early version of it found on The Studio Albums 1967–1968 is 13 March track with a lead vocal that was replaced on 15 March. On 15 March they did no new songs but remixed and overdubbed seven previously recorded songs; "Turn of the Century" (7 March), "I Close My Eyes" (9 March), "Cucumber Castle" (13 March), "One Minute Woman". These dubs included the finished lead vocals, replacing the guide vocals they recorded at the earlier sessions. Orchestral parts were then added to many of the songs done up to that point. Some were arranged by Bill Shepherd, who for the next six years would act as the Bee Gees' arranger and conductor in the studio and on tour, and some were done by a young manager Phil Dennys, whose arrangements for four songs appear on the album. An acetate sold at auction in the 1990s reveals the state of some songs at about this date, It included three songs arranged by Phil Dennys, "Red Chair, Fade Away" which is still missing the mellotron flutes which Maurice must have added afterwards, "One Minute Woman" with lead vocal by Robin (not the vocal released on The Studio Albums 1967–1968), and "I Close My Eyes" with a different mix. It also has three Bill Shepherd orchestral arrangements of "Turn of the Century" (to the same Bee Gees tracks), an important song as the opening of the album, a variant mix of "Cucumber Castle" and "Mr. Wallor's Wailing Wall" with fewer sound effects than on The Studio Albums 1967–1968. The absence of "New York Mining Disaster 1941" may be because it was still not in a satisfactory state. Phil Dennys wrote two similar arrangements for "New York Mining Disaster 1941". The more overblown one, complete with intro and outro sound effects is version two. Another similar take by the Bee Gees got a less elaborate arrangement and became the standard version. These two sound like different mixes of the same tracks, but a side-by-side analysis shows that they are completely different recordings. On the take that would be released, the Bee Gees took the verses a little slower, and lingered slightly over Robin's last "someone that i knew".[4]

Shortly before the album's completion, Barry implied that Ossie Byrne and his production team were deserving of great credit, just for their patience alone.[6]

They also recorded six songs, which were not included on the album, the songs were: "House of Lords" (8 & 15 March), "Mr. Wallor's Wailing Wall" (8 & 15 March), "I've Got to Learn" (13 March), "Life" (23 March) and "Harry Braff" (recorded twice, on 21 April and 10 May respectively). For reasons lost to history, the group also re-recorded their 1966 single "Spicks and Specks" (16 May 1967) but it was not finished. They also recorded "End of My Song" (also called the Otis Redding demo), with lead vocals by Barry, but this was not released, and the recording date was not documented.[4]

Barry Gibb talks about the album's producer Ossie Bryne:

We drive the producer and technicians mad. We have nothing knocked out. We sit about and think upa subject, then write a song on the spot. We did the whole of the LP like this. It's the really the only way we can work, spontaneously off the cuff.[6]

Years later, Barry would add "Ossie was a good producer. I think he was crazy to go back to Australia".[6]

Release[edit]

Maurice Gibb has sometimes been given writing credits for the songs "To Love Somebody" and "I Can't See Nobody" when the songs appeared on albums by other artists, but almost never on a Bee Gees album. "Bee Gees Gold, Vol. 1" (1976) credited "I Can't See Nobody" to Barry, Maurice and Robin on both the album jacket back cover and on the record label. The brothers often spoke of their hits from "Bee Gees 1st" as having been written by all three rather than what was shown on the official writing credit. The three-part Gibb harmony was compared to the Beatles, although the Bee Gees fans familiar with the voices have not always agreed. When the group were introduced to the New York City radio audiences as "the English surprise", The first single from the album, "New York Mining Disaster 1941", was recorded before Brian Epstein heard the Bee Gees. The second single, "To Love Somebody", sung by Barry, has sometimes been said to have originally been intended for Otis Redding.

Heralding the psychedelic era[edit]

According to music critic Bruce Eder of Allmusic:

In one fell swoop, they became competitors with the likes of veteran rock bands such as The Hollies and The Tremeloes, and this long-player, Bee Gees' 1st, is more of a rock album than the group usually got credit for generating. Parts of it do sound very much like the Beatles circa Revolver, but there was far more to their sound than that. The three hits off of Bee Gees' 1st, "To Love Somebody" "New York Mining Disaster 1941" and "Holiday" were gorgeous but relatively somber, thus giving Bee Gees' 1st a melancholy cast, but much of the rest is relatively upbeat psychedelic pop. "In My Own Time" may echo elements of the Beatles' "Doctor Robert" and "Taxman" but it's difficult to dislike a song with such delicious rhythm guitars and a great beat, coupled with the trio's soaring harmonies; "Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You" was close in spirit to The Moody Blues of this era, opening with a Gregorian chant backed by a Mellotron, before breaking into a strangely spaced-out, psychedelic main song body. Robin Gibb's lead vocals veered toward the melodramatic and poignant, and the orchestra did dress up some of the songs a little sweetly, yet overall the group presented themselves as a proficient rock ensemble who'd filled their debut album with a full set of solid, refreshingly original songs.[7]

According to music critic Bill Sherman:

Recently picked up the first of these releases, 1967's 1st, and I was surprised by how tunefully eclectic the darn thing was. In addition to its trio of Sensitive Guy hit singles (elegantly schlocky "Holiday," quiet desperation classic "New York Mining Disaster 1941" and the Motown-indebted "To Love Somebody" which would also be a British hit for Nina Simone), the album is a veritable fruit basket of sweet stuff: from the chamber psychedelia of "Red Chair, Fade Away" to the Moody Blues-driven chant-work of "Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You" to a surprisingly garage-stained nugget like "In My Own Time" (check out that "Taxman"-driven guitar), plus several risible slips of veddy veddy swingin' sixties whimsy and the songs are "Craise Finton Kirk Royal Academy of Arts" "Turn of the Century". And for those who simply must have their unabashed Gibbian wimpiness, there's "One Minute Woman" which features Barry Gibb getting down on his knees for a fickle and ungrateful lass.[8]

Jim Miller at Rolling Stone described this album along with Horizontal and Idea as "can be easily considered as a group."[9] K. Kanitz described "Turn of the Century" has a lush orchestration and classic vocals from the Brothers Gibb as well as other songs like psych-pop and the Pepper-esque "Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You".[10]

Aftermath[edit]

By the end of 1967, the album had been a top ten hit in the United States, United Kingdom and Germany. Byrne never worked on another Bee Gees recording as IBC Studios engineer Damon Lyon Shaw explained:[3]

I did more stuff with Ossie Byrne without the Bee Gees than I did with the Bee Gees. Ossie had a knack of keeping quiet and letting people get on, and then he went adrift a bit and got some bands that weren't quite so good. I had a lot of time for Ossie, he was a nice chap…he didn't have much talent as a producer I have to say, but he had enough talent to see the band. He had this talent of keeping people together and making them productive.[3]

Shaw's colleague John Pantry agreed with Shaw's assessment:

Ossie was a nice guy. He didn't know a great deal technically and initially relied heavily on the engineers. It wasn't long before the Bee Gees knew as much as him and started doing sessions without him… he did a great trick with his glass eye, which he could pop out![3]

After singer Adam Faith heard the songs, he asked the Gibbs to write a song for him. The brothers came out with "Cowman, Milk Your Cow", released as a single on 22 September 1967 with The Roulettes as the backing band and Fleetwood Mac's Peter Green on guitar, with background vocals by the Gibb brothers.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Barry and Robin Gibb except where noted. 

Side one
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Turn of the Century"   Barry and Robin 2:25
2. "Holiday"   Robin and Barry 2:53
3. "Red Chair, Fade Away"   Barry 2:16
4. "One Minute Woman"   Barry and Robin 2:18
5. "In My Own Time"   Barry 2:15
6. "Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You" (Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb) Barry and Robin 3:38
7. "Craise Finton Kirk Royal Academy of Arts"   Robin 2:16
Side two
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "New York Mining Disaster 1941"   Robin and Barry 2:09
2. "Cucumber Castle"   Barry 2:04
3. "To Love Somebody"   Barry 3:00
4. "I Close My Eyes" (Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb) Robin and Barry 2:22
5. "I Can't See Nobody"   Robin 3:45
6. "Please Read Me"   Barry, Robin & Maurice 2:15
7. "Close Another Door" (Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb) Robin and Barry 3:29

2006 Reissue[edit]

  • In 2006, Bee Gees' 1st was reissued as a 2-CD set. In CD 1 were listed the original 14 songs, in both stereo and mono. In CD 2 were released a count of songs and versions not previously released. All tracks written by Barry and Robin Gibb, except where noted.

Personnel[edit]

Bee Gees
Additional personnel and production
  • Phil Dennys – orchestral arrangement on "New York Mining Disaster 1941", "Red Chair Fade Away", "I Close My Eyes" and "One Minute Woman"
  • Bill Shepherd – orchestral arrangement
  • Mike Claydon – engineer
  • Robert Stigwood – producer
  • Ossie Byrne – producer
  • Klaus Voormannart cover

Chart positions[edit]

Chart Position
Australian Kent Music Report[11] 10
French SNEP Albums Chart[12] 2
Norwegian VG-lista Albums Chart[13] 5
UK Albums Chart[14] 8
US Billboard 200[15] 7
West German Media Control Albums Chart[16] 4

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bee Gees' 1st at AllMusic
  2. ^ "Bee Gees Discography". Discogs. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d Bee Gees at IBC
  4. ^ a b c d Joseph Brennan. "Gibb Songs: 1967". 
  5. ^ grafik (24 November 2012). "A cornerstone since 1900 | Vince Melouney (Bee Gees, Aztecs, John Paul Young etc)". The Woombye Pub. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c Hughes, Andrew. Bee Gees – Tales of the Brothers Gibb. Retrieved 17 December 2012. 
  7. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Bee Gees – Bee Gees' 1st". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 29 September 2012. 
  8. ^ "Music Review: Bee Gees – Bee Gees' 1st". Blogcritics. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
  9. ^ Miller, Jim. "Bee Gees – Idea". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  10. ^ K. Kanitz. "Bee Gees – Bee Gees' 1st Review". The Ring Storm by. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
  11. ^ Kent, David. Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  12. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste" (in French). infodisc.fr. Retrieved 1 May 2013. Note: user must select 'Bee Gees' from drop-down.
  13. ^ "norwegiancharts.com Bee Gees – Horizontal" (ASP). Hung Medien. VG-lista. Retrieved 5 May 2013. 
  14. ^ "Bee Gees > Artists > Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 5 May 2013. 
  15. ^ "Allmusic: Bee Gees' 1st : Charts & Awards : Billboard Albums". allmusic.com. Retrieved 5 May 2013. 
  16. ^ "Album Search: Bee Gees – Horizontal" (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 6 May 2012.