Spicks and Specks (album)
|Spicks and Specks|
|Studio album by Bee Gees|
|Studio||St. Clair Studios, Hurstville|
|Bee Gees chronology|
|Singles from Spicks and Specks|
Spicks and Specks is the second studio album by the Bee Gees. It was released in November 1966, on Spin. Primarily written by Barry Gibb, the album features the first Robin Gibb composition "I Don't Know Why I Bother With Myself" and a Maurice Gibb composition "Where Are You".
The success of the title track propelled the band to move to England in 1967 to further their musical career.
History and recording
Nat Kipner brought the Bee Gees to St. Clair Studio, Hurstville (outside Sydney). It was a small place in a strip mall owned and operated by Kipner's friend Ossie Byrne, a sound engineer who was working wonders with even more modest facilities than Festival Studios. Both Kipner and Barry Gibb recall that the recording equipment was just two one-track tape decks and a mixer. But many Festival acts would make the trip to Hurstville to get the benefit of Byrne's talents and the more relaxed artist-oriented atmosphere. Among them were the band, Steve and the Board, led by Kipner's son, Steve Kipner, all of whom became friends with the Bee Gees because both groups were allowed the run of the studio whenever it was not booked for other performers. The Bee Gees had never had much studio time before. Byrne let them experiment with sound effects and overdubs, while Nat gave them plenty of feedback on their music. The first group of St. Clair recordings were an excellent set of songs that show the brilliance of the Bee Gees when set loose, and of Byrne as a recording engineer. They were recorded mainly by the three brothers themselves. On some tracks, the drums were played by Colin Petersen from Steve and the Board, who would later be the Bee Gees' regular drummer until August 1969. Maurice Gibb had a piano to play and electronics he was allowed to try out, Robin Gibb learned to double-track his voice, and Barry had precious time to work with his group to make recordings as good as those by the other performers who had recorded so many of his songs. The one-track tape machines required the used of sound-on-sound for all overdubs. An instrumental base track was recorded first. Then it was played back while the group sang or played, and the playback and microphones were mixed together and recorded to another tape machine. If an additional track was needed, the process could be repeated. Each track however added another layer of tape hiss. Some of these recordings must have gone to at least a third track. The exact chronology of the St. Clair sessions remains a mystery, one that will not be solved since the studio documentation is long gone. The two songs for "Monday's Rain" single were certainly recorded by 8 May 1966, based on a press report. Also listed above are the other songs sequenced into the Monday's Rain LP, which was not released. The album compilation pre-dates the song "Spicks and Specks", which seems to date from early July.
Monday's Rain album
This proposed album would have followed the single "Monday's Rain". Some number of albums were actually manufactured, but it was not released, or possibly it was released and immediately withdrawn around July 1966.
Monday's Rain album was used as the basis of the Spicks and Specks album after "Spicks and Specks" was released and became a national hit record late in that year. Side 1 of two albums was exactly the same (but in the Spicks and Specks album, "All of My Life" was omitted), and early copies of Spicks and Specks had labels side 1 with the Monday's Rain title, indicating that Festival, thrifty to a fault, had been saying the printed labels and probably the LP stampers as well. Only side 2 had to be re-mastered, "Spicks and Specks" replacing the first song, quite likely edited to the old side 2 master tape. Although such mechanical considerations may have forced Nat's hand on choosing material, the Monday's Rain album was a good one and worth release.
- Side one
- "Monday's Rain"
- "How Many Birds"
- "Second Hand People"
- "I Don't Know Why I Bother With Myself"
- "Big Chance"
- Side two
In 1968, US ATCO and UK Polydor, under contract from Festival, reissued this Album, re-sequenced, as "Rare, Precious & Beautiful, Vol. 1".
All tracks written by Barry Gibb except where noted.
|1.||"Monday's Rain"||Robin and Barry||2:58|
|2.||"How Many Birds"||Barry||1:57|
|3.||"Playdown"||Barry, Robin and Maurice||2:54|
|4.||"Second Hand People"||Barry, Robin and Maurice||2:10|
|5.||"I Don't Know Why I Bother With Myself" (Robin Gibb)||Robin||2:43|
|6.||"Big Chance"||Robin and Barry||1:40|
|1.||"Spicks and Specks"||Barry||2:52|
|3.||"Tint of Blue" (Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb)||Barry||2:05|
|4.||"Where Are You" (Maurice Gibb)||Maurice||2:10|
|5.||"Born a Man"||Barry||3:10|
|6.||"Glass House" (Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb)||Robin||2:25|
- Bee Gees
- Barry Gibb – lead, harmony and backing vocals, acoustic guitar
- Robin Gibb – lead, harmony and backing vocals, harmonica
- Maurice Gibb – harmony and backing vocals, acoustic and bass guitar, piano, lead vocals on "Where Are You"
- Guest and additional musicians
- John Robinson – bass
- Steve Kipner – harmony and backing vocals
- Colin Petersen – drums
- Russell Barnsley – drums
- Geoff Grant – trumpet
- Ossie Byrne – sound engineer
Release and aftermath
Kipner said on the liner notes of the album: 'This album is made up of a great variety of compositions. As instrumentalists they have mastered practically every instrument in the book. As harmonists and vocalists they are acknowledged as the foremost in this country.'
Their subsequent tour took the Bee Gees to the Kyeamba Smith Hall at Wagga Wagga Showground in New South Wales, where such acts as Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs and the Easybeats also performed. The only catch was getting the elusive hit record, the Bee Gees ended up recording two albums in 1966, the first delayed until they had a hit song to sell it, and the second finally scrapped and used as a publisher's demo reel to sell the songs to other performers. The hit was the title track, their first national best-seller, but it came so late that they were on the boat to England when they heard about it in late 1966.
Kipner tore up his contract with the Bee Gees, but he did reserve the Australian rights to whatever they recorded over the next several years.
In popular culture
- The Australian music-themed television quiz show Spicks and Specks was named after the album's title track, which was also the show's theme song.
In season 5 of AMC's The Walking Dead, we hear Spicks and Specks on episode 13.