Odessa (Bee Gees album)
|Studio album by Bee Gees|
13 January 2009 (reissue)
|Recorded||12 July–December 1968
IBC Studios and Atlantic Studios, New York
|Genre||Soft rock, symphonic rock, country rock, country folk, orchestral, classical|
Atco Records (US/Canada)
|Producer||Robert Stigwood, Bee Gees|
|Bee Gees chronology|
|Singles from Odessa|
|Tiny Mix Tapes|||
Odessa is the sixth studio album by the Bee Gees, released in March 1969 by Polydor Records in the UK and Atco Records in the US. It was the group's fourth album released internationally, and their only studio double LP. Odessa would be the final album for the band's original incarnation, and this was the last album to feature guitarist Vince Melouney. Robin Gibb would leave the band over personal and artistic differences with brother Barry Gibb. Barry and Maurice would continue to record with drummer Colin Petersen as the Bee Gees, but disintegrated when Petersen was fired. Odessa is noted in Robert Dimery's book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. The album contains "First of May", "Lamplight", "Marley Purt Drive" and "Melody Fair".
Odessa was a concept album like the other albums by British bands such as the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Pretty Things' SF Sorrow and The Moody Blues' Days of Future Passed.
Origins and recording
The original album name was An American Opera then Masterpeace and finally Odessa.
Colin recalls about the country influence on Odessa, "It was my idea that we do that sort of thing, and Maurice is the one who will take more time out to listen to what I have to say, although within the group, the okay has to come from Barry". Their manager Robert Stigwood says, "Barry is the Bee Gees coordinator, I used the word advisedly, as there is no leader of the group as such. He has a tremendous feel for soul music a la his composing work for The Marbles, but he is also a fantastic solo singer in his own right".
The first song recorded for the album was "I Laugh in Your Face" on 12 July 1968, the same day the group recorded "I've Gotta Get a Message to You" (released from the American version of the group's fifth album Idea). After recording eight songs for the album, guitarist Vince Melouney left the group amicably and joined the supergroup Fanny Adams, wanting to pursue a more bluesy direction as Melouney explained: "I was on three tracks, "Marley Purt Drive", "Whisper Whisper" and one more that i can't remember".
Prior to release there were disagreements over which song was to be released as a single (the Robin led "Lamplight" lost out to "First of May" a Barry solo vocal). This led to Robin Gibb leaving the group in early 1969, though he would rejoin the group in August 1970.
A reel tape of mono mixes dated 24 November 1968 has "Odessa (City on the Black Sea)", "First of May" and "Melody Fair" called a "rough mix with orchestra". Therefore about as soon as they returned to the studio, they were with Bill Shepherd arranging and conducting orchestral tracks to complete the album. This puts the re-make of "First of May" early in the November sessions, yet the song would be the last Bee Gees band session for the album. (However, after recording "First of May", the instrumental tracks, "Seven Seas Symphony", "With All Nations" and "The British Opera" were recorded by Bill Shepherd.) Also done somewhere around here are the final vocals for the New York songs and the added organ part for "Edison". Barry sang in a strong voice for "First of May", "Sound of Love", "Marley Purt Drive" and "Give Your Best", a bit less so on "Whisper, Whisper" and "Edison", with the latter featuring some lead vocals by Robin.
Odessa was initially released on Atco Records in a red flocked cover with a gold lettering to the group's name and label symbol stamped in gold on the front and nothing but the flocking on the back. The gatefold has a large dotted image of people leaving a ship in a lifeboat. There are no photographs of the group and they are not named except as to all songs being written by B, R & M Gibb. Due to the high cost of production, as well as allergic reactions among workers during assembly, this design was discontinued. as Barry explained:
|“||Everything got out of hand and we didn't know which way we were heading. We'd never really finished the album. It was our own production and we were very proud of it, but it all turned out different. It marked a period of breaking up and we weren't talking to each other, so we weren't in the studio together half the time and weren't as friendly toward each other. The recording took three or four months which was a long time in those days. Bee Gees 1st was done in a month. It would be nice to re-master the album once and as a bonus maybe do a live version of some of the songs.||”|
It was later reissued in 1976 as an edited single-disc album with a plain red cover on RSO Records. The 1976 single LP reissue deleted tracks 3, 5, 7–9, 12, and 17. Some early CD and cassette editions also omitted the track "With All Nations (International Anthem)". Rhino Records had previously planned on an August 2008 release of the album containing three discs, which would contain mono and stereo versions along with selected rarities. The release of the re-issue had been delayed until 13 January 2009. This edition restored the red flocking originally found on the LP.
In the beginning of March 1969, the group promote "First of May" (they also performed "I Started a Joke") on Top of the Pops and The Tom Jones Show, but both performances was last to feature Robin before he decided to leave the band. Robin told Mojo magazine in 2003 about his departure from the band after the release of Odessa saying "We had egos". In July 1969, "Marley Purt Drive" was released as a single, backed with "Melody Fair" only in South America.
Maurice describes this album as 'heavy'. Some light relief could be found on Japanese copies of this album. "People thought it was an in-depth album", Maurice recalled, "like, 'What do they mean by those lyrics?' and 'What's this all about?' There's all sorts of different areas on it. It went up and down in places, but a lot of people regard it as our Sgt. Pepper. To us, I don't think it was the best album we made, but the main title 'Odessa' I loved". Barry responded to Maurice saying, "I guess I have strong personal feelings about it because it was a time when the group was splitting up".
All tracks written and composed by Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb.
|1.||"Odessa (City on the Black Sea)"||Robin||7:33|
|2.||"You'll Never See My Face Again"||Barry||4:16|
|4.||"Marley Purt Drive"||Barry||4:26|
|5.||"Edison"||Barry and Robin||3:07|
|6.||"Melody Fair"||Barry and Maurice||3:48|
|10.||"Sound of Love"||Barry||3:27|
|11.||"Give Your Best"||Barry||3:26|
|12.||"Seven Seas Symphony"||Instrumental||4:09|
|13.||"With All Nations (International Anthem)"||Instrumental||1:46|
|14.||"I Laugh in Your Face"||Barry and Robin||4:09|
|15.||"Never Say Never Again"||Barry||3:28|
|16.||"First of May"||Barry||2:50|
|17.||"The British Opera"||Instrumental||3:17|
On 13 January 2009, Reprise Records released a 3-CD set of Odessa, complete with remastered stereo and mono version of all 17 tracks, plus a bonus third disc with demos, alternate version, and three unreleased tracks. To date, Odessa was the last non-compilation album to be released, and the status of the re-release program is unknown.
Disc 1: stereo / Disc 2: mono
- Odessa (City on the Black Sea)
- You'll Never See My Face Again
- Black Diamond
- Marley Purt Drive
- Melody Fair
- Whisper Whisper
- Sound of Love
- Give Your Best
- Seven Seas Symphony
- With All Nations (International Anthem)
- I Laugh in Your Face
- Never Say Never Again
- First of May
- The British Opera
Disc 3: "Sketches for Odessa" [all tracks previously unissued]
- Odessa (Demo) –
- You'll Never See My Face Again" (Alternate Mix)
- Black Diamond (Demo)
- Marley Purt Drive (Alternate Mix)
- Barbara Came To Stay
- Edison (Alternate Mix)
- Melody Fair (Demo)
- Melody Fair (Alternate Mix)
- Suddenly (Alternate Mix)
- Whisper Whisper – Part Two (Alternate Version)
- Lamplight (Demo)
- Lamplight (Alternate Version)
- Sound of Love (Alternate Mix)
- Give Your Best (Alternate Mix)
- Seven Seas Symphony (Demo)
- With All Nations (International Anthem) (Vocal Version)
- I Laugh in Your Face (Alternate Mix)
- Never Say Never Again (Alternate Mix)
- First of May (Demo)
- First of May (Alternate Mix)
- Nobody's Someone
- Odessa Promotional Spot
- Bee Gees
- Barry Gibb – lead, harmony and backing vocals, guitar
- Robin Gibb – lead, harmony and backing vocals, organ, piano, mellotron
- Maurice Gibb – bass, piano, guitar, mellotron, lead vocals on "Suddenly"
- Vince Melouney – guitar on "Whisper, Whisper", "Marley Purt Drive", "Give Your Best", "Sound of Love" and "Edison"
- Colin Petersen – drums
- Guest musicians and production
- Bill Keith – banjo on "Marley Purt Drive" and "Give Your Best"
- Tex Logan – fiddle on "Give Your Best"
- Paul Buckmaster – cello on "Odessa"
- Adrian Barber – sound engineer
- Robert Stigwood – producer
- Odessa (Bee Gees album) at AllMusic
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