Odessa (Bee Gees album)

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Studio album by Bee Gees
Released 30 march 1969
13 January 2009 (reissue)
Recorded 12 July – December 1968
IBC Studios and Atlantic Studios, New York
Genre Soft rock, symphonic rock, progressive rock, country folk, classical
Length 63:49
Label Polydor
Atco Records (US/Canada)
Producer Robert Stigwood, Bee Gees
Bee Gees chronology
Cucumber Castle
Singles from Odessa
  1. "First of May"
    Released: January 1969

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.[1] 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.[2]


Origins and recording[edit]

The original album name was An American Opera then Masterpeace and finally Odessa.[3]

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".[4]

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".[5]

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,[6] 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.[7]

"It was my idea that we do that sort of thing", Colin Petersen on claiming the country-influence on some of the songs on Odessa, "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".[8]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[9]
Glorious Noise (recommended)[10]
Pitchfork Media (7.2/10)[11]
Tiny Mix Tapes 5/5 stars[2]

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.[1] as Barry explained:

While on the other hand, Maurice describes Odessa: "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".[8]

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.[12] 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.[3] Robin told Mojo magazine in 2003 about his departure from the band after the release of Odessa saying "We had egos".[13] In July 1969, "Marley Purt Drive" was released as a single, backed with "Melody Fair" only in South America.[14]

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".[4]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written and composed by Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb.

Standard edition[edit]

Side one
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Odessa (City on the Black Sea)"   Robin 7:33
2. "You'll Never See My Face Again"   Barry 4:16
3. "Black Diamond"   Robin 3:27
Side two
No. Title Lead vocals Length
4. "Marley Purt Drive"   Barry 4:26
5. "Edison"   Barry and Robin 3:07
6. "Melody Fair"   Barry and Maurice 3:48
7. "Suddenly"   Maurice 2:29
8. "Whisper Whisper"   Barry 3:24
Side three
No. Title Lead vocals Length
9. "Lamplight"   Robin 4:47
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
Side four
No. Title Lead vocals Length
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

Deluxe edition[edit]

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

  1. Odessa (City on the Black Sea)
  2. You'll Never See My Face Again
  3. Black Diamond
  4. Marley Purt Drive
  5. Edison
  6. Melody Fair
  7. Suddenly
  8. Whisper Whisper
  9. Lamplight
  10. Sound of Love
  11. Give Your Best
  12. Seven Seas Symphony
  13. With All Nations (International Anthem)
  14. I Laugh in Your Face
  15. Never Say Never Again
  16. First of May
  17. The British Opera

Disc 3: "Sketches for Odessa" [all tracks previously unissued]

  1. Odessa (Demo)
  2. You'll Never See My Face Again" (Alternate Mix)
  3. Black Diamond (Demo)
  4. Marley Purt Drive (Alternate Mix)
  5. Barbara Came To Stay
  6. Edison (Alternate Mix)
  7. Melody Fair (Demo)
  8. Melody Fair (Alternate Mix)
  9. Suddenly (Alternate Mix)
  10. Whisper Whisper – Part Two (Alternate Version)
  11. Lamplight (Demo)
  12. Lamplight (Alternate Version)
  13. Sound of Love (Alternate Mix)
  14. Give Your Best (Alternate Mix)
  15. Seven Seas Symphony (Demo)
  16. With All Nations (International Anthem) (Vocal Version)
  17. I Laugh in Your Face (Alternate Mix)
  18. Never Say Never Again (Alternate Mix)
  19. First of May (Demo)
  20. First of May (Alternate Mix)
  21. Nobody's Someone
  22. Pity
  23. Odessa Promotional Spot


Bee Gees
Guest musicians and production



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  2. ^ a b Brusie, David (12 February 2009). "Bee Gees – Odessa | DeLorean". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Marion Adriaensen (25 November 1966). "History Part 4". Brothersgibb.org. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Hughes, Andrew. The Bee Gees – Tales of the Brothers Gibb. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
  5. ^ Coston, Daniel. "Excerpt from new Vince Melouney (Bee Gees) interview". The Coston Chronicles. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  6. ^ Bee Gees: The Authorized Biography by David Leaf. Chappell, 1979. (ISBN 978-0903443357)
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  16. ^ "Top Albums/CDs – Volume 11, No. 9". RPM. 28 April 1969. Retrieved 5 May 2013. 
  17. ^ "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.
  18. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
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