Idea (album)

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Polydor design by Wolfgang Heilemann
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 1968
Recorded13 December 1967 – 25 June 1968
StudioIBC Studios, London
GenrePsychedelic rock, psychedelic pop, art rock, soft rock
Atco (United States)
ProducerRobert Stigwood, Bee Gees
Bee Gees chronology
Singles from Idea
  1. "I've Gotta Get a Message to You"
    Released: 7 September 1968
  2. "I Started a Joke"
    Released: 21 December 1968

Idea is the fifth album by the Bee Gees. Released in September 1968, the album sold over a million copies worldwide. The album was issued in both mono and stereo pressings in the UK.[1][2] The artwork on the Polydor release designed by Wolfgang Heilemann featured a lightbulb with a group photo in its base, while the North American ATCO release designed by Klaus Voormann featured a composite head made from each band member.[3] It was their third internationally released album - the first two albums being released only in the Australian market.

"I've Gotta Get a Message to You" and "I Started a Joke" were both released as singles in North America. In the UK, "Message" was only released as a single and "I Started a Joke" was only an album track, though another album track, "Kitty Can", was featured on the B-side of "I've Gotta Get a Message to You."

The North American ATCO LP and the South African Polydor LP replaced "Such a Shame" with "I've Gotta Get a Message to You".[4] Both songs were included when the album was released on CD in 1989.[5]


Idea, released in September 1968, was the Bee Gees' third international album. "We were in friction at that point," says Barry. "We weren't getting on, and that was it. I think it was a mixture of the group not getting along very well and egos. Ego, I think, is the key word for this group. It's not unlike any other group in that everybody wants to be the one that gets the attention. Unfortunately, I think that happens a lot. Certainly it happened to us."[6]

Many of the songs on the album's second side reflect a yearning for escape ("When the Swallows Fly," "I've Decided to Join the Air Force," "Swan Song") while Vince Melouney's "Such a Shame" was, by his own admission, about how it was a shame that the group was disintegrating.[6]

"In the Summer of His Years" was Robin's requiem for the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein who had died in August 1967. "I've Decided to Join the Air Force" was written specially for the occasion when the Bee Gees played at the Royal Albert Hall earlier in 1968 with the musicians of the Royal Air Force backing them.[7]

Barry Gibb performed "Kilburn Towers" on his Mythology tour of 2013-14 while "Swan Song" made a surprise appearance on the first disc of the 2010 Mythology compilation.


The band recorded its previous album Horizontal between July and December 1967. The last song recorded was "Swan Song," but this was not released until 1968 on Idea. "Words" was released as a single in place of "Swan Song."[8]

The band started recording Idea on January 1968 after a Christmas holiday in Australia, and few weeks after the Horizontal sessions. The songs recorded were "Chocolate Symphony", "The Singer Sang His Song", "Down to Earth", "I Can Lift a Mountain", ("Gena's Theme" was finished in June,) "Jumbo" was released as a non-album single, "Bridges Crossing Rivers", and "She Is Russia". The February songs are "In the Summer of His Years" and "I've Decided to Join the Air Force". By March, Barry, Maurice, and Colin participated on the track "By the Light of the Burning Candle" by The Marbles, a newly formed band at that time made up of members Graham Bonnet and Trevor Gordon. Between June and July in 1968, they recorded "Kitty Can", "I.O.I.O.", "Let There Be Love", "Stepping Out", and "No Name". In June, Robin recorded "The Band Will Meet Mr. Justice", "The People's Public Joke", "Indian Gin and Whisky Dry", "The Girl to Share Each Day", "Come Some Halloween or Christmas Day", "My Love Life Expired", and "Heaven in My Hand", a mono tape of seven songs which was credited only to him. In the same month, they recorded "Completely Unoriginal", "Kilburn Towers", the Vince Melouney composition "Such a Shame", "Indian Gin and Whisky Dry", "When the Swallows Fly", "Idea", "Come Some Christmas Eve or Halloween", "Maypole News", "Men of Men", and "I Started a Joke".[9]

The other songs recorded around 1968 included "Sitting in the Meadow" and "Another Cold and Windy Day," both recorded for Coca-Cola,[citation needed] "In the Middle of Grass," "Let Your Heart Out," and "The Square Cup". "Everything That Came From Mother Goose" was written by Colin Petersen and Maurice Gibb, and Petersen mentioned this song in an interview in September 1968. In July, "I've Gotta Get a Message to You" was recorded in the same session as "I Laugh in Your Face" (released on Odessa, 1969) following the completion of the album, but was only included on the US version.[9]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars[10]
Rolling Stone(neutral)[11]

This album features "Such a Shame", the only non-Gibb Bee Gees song included on any of their studio albums, written and co-sung by lead guitarist Vince Melouney. The song was included on the British version of the album but deleted from the American issue, which in turn included their recent hit "I've Gotta Get a Message to You", not on the UK LP. When the album was issued on CD in the 1980s, both tracks were included. "I Started a Joke" was not issued as a single in the UK, but it reached No. 6 in America. The UK sleeve had a lightbulb on a dark blue ground. In 2006, Reprise Records reissued Idea (using the European cover) with both stereo and mono mixes on one disc and a bonus disc of unreleased songs, non-album tracks, and alternate mixes. After the release of Idea, the band went to Brussels for the TV special Idea in September, and European tour in October and November. After that, Vince left the band saying, "I was just too young, too naive." His final album with the band was Odessa, which was recorded in August that year.[12]

Allmusic's Bruce Eder described "I Started a Joke" as very much of piece with their early work. Eder said that "Kitty Can", "Indian Gin and Whisky Dry" and "Such a Shame" sounded like the output of a working band with a cohesive group sound, rather than a harmony vocal group with accompaniment.[10]

Track listing (UK)[edit]

All songs written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, except "Such a Shame", written and composed by Vince Melouney.

Side one
No.TitleLead vocal(s)Length
1."Let There Be Love"Barry and Robin3:28
2."Kitty Can"Barry and Maurice2:31
3."In the Summer of His Years"Robin3:05
4."Indian Gin and Whisky Dry"Robin1:55
5."Down to Earth"Robin2:28
6."Such a Shame"Vince2:28
Side two
No.TitleLead vocal(s)Length
1."Idea"Barry and Robin2:51
2."When the Swallows Fly"Barry2:22
3."I Have Decided to Join the Airforce"Barry and Robin2:06
4."I Started a Joke"Robin3:03
5."Kilburn Towers"Barry2:14
6."Swan Song"Barry2:55

American release[edit]

ATCO design by Klaus Voormann
Studio album by
ReleasedAugust 1968 (1968-08)
Recorded13 December 1967 – 12 July 1968
StudioIBC Studios, London
GenrePsychedelic rock, psychedelic pop, baroque pop, folk pop[13]
ProducerRobert Stigwood, Bee Gees
Bee Gees American albums chronology
Singles from Idea
  1. "I've Gotta Get a Message to You"
    Released: July 1968
  2. "I Started a Joke"
    Released: December 1968

It was released also in September on the Atco label, and was released in stereo. "I've Gotta Get a Message to You" was included on this version instead of "Such a Shame". Its cover was a composite head by Klaus Voormann, the artist who also did the Bee Gees' 1st art.

Side one
No.TitleLead vocal(s)Length
1."Let There Be Love"Barry and Robin3:32
2."Kitty Can"Barry and Maurice2:38
3."In The Summer of His Years"Robin3:11
4."Indian Gin and Whisky Dry"Robin2:01
5."Down to Earth"Robin2:38
6."I've Gotta Get a Message to You"Robin and Barry2:55
Side two
No.TitleLead vocal(s)Length
1."Idea"Barry and Robin2:50
2."When the Swallows Fly"Barry2:29
3."I Have Decided to Join the Airforce"Barry and Robin2:11
4."I Started a Joke"Robin3:07
5."Kilburn Towers"Barry2:17
6."Swan Song"Barry2:56


Bee Gees
Additional personnel and production



  1. ^ "Bee Gees – Idea UK mono release". Discogs. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  2. ^ "Bee Gees – Idea UK stereo release". Discogs. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  3. ^ "Bee Gees – Idea , ATCO release, Klaus Voormann artwork". Discogs. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  4. ^ "Bee Gees – Idea South African release". Discogs. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  5. ^ "Bee Gees – Idea 1989 CD release". Discogs. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Idea (1968)". Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  7. ^ Gibb, Barry, Robin & Maurice (1979). Bee Gees: The Authorised Biography.
  8. ^ Brennan, Joseph. "Gibb Songs: 1967". Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  9. ^ a b Brennan, Joseph. "Gibb Songs: 1968". Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  10. ^ a b Eder, Bruce. "Bee Gees – Idea". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  11. ^ Miller, Jim (December 21, 1968). "Records". Rolling Stone. San Francisco: Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. Retrieved August 29, 2014.
  12. ^ Sandoval, Andrew. "Bee Gees – Idea". Album Liner Notes. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
  13. ^ "Bee Gees – Idea Reviews at Rate Your Music". Rate Your Music. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  14. ^ Kent, David. Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  15. ^ "Top Albums/CDs – Volume 10, No. 9". RPM. 28 October 1968. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  16. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste" (in French). Archived from the original on 7 November 2011. Retrieved 1 May 2013.Note: user must select 'Bee Gees' from drop-down.
  17. ^ "Bee Gees > Artists > Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  18. ^ "Allmusic: Idea : Charts & Awards : Billboard Albums". Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  19. ^ "Album Search: Bee Gees – Idea" (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
  20. ^ "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1969" (in Italian). Retrieved 5 May 2013.