1973


This year was almost the end of the Bee Gees. The RSO label premiered in January with a Bee Gees single ‘Saw a New Morning’ and album Life in a Tin Can that sold poorly. When the lead single for the next album ‘Wouldn’t I Be Someone’ also failed, that album was never released at all.

Some labels release albums for artists they believe in whether they seem commercial or not, for the sake of artist development. RSO did not. Under their father’s direction in Australia, the Bee Gees worked to please the audience, not for art, and under Robert Stigwood it was the same. If a record was unlikely to sell big, it was not worth releasing. And so ‘Harry’s Gate’ would go unheard, and Barry would mock it later as too personal to succeed.

Stigwood was not ready to give up on the Bee Gees, but he did not believe in the musical direction they were taking. At the suggestion of Jerry Wexler and Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic, Robert Stigwood sent them to work with Atlantic producer and arranger Arif Mardin, who began to draw out their love of rhythm and blues music. This began in November. They were self-conscious about doing a really ‘black’ sound though. The first goal they worked on was to record new songs in a way that they could reproduce on stage. They made use of Alan Kendall’s electric lead guitar, and added a keyboard player. The result was less recording by Maurice, who had long overdubbed many instrumental and backing vocal parts. Unstated was that Maurice’s alcoholism was starting to affect his work. The new sound was less acoustic than they had been doing.


songs


KING AND COUNTRY
Barry Gibb
(or Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb)
B side by Bee Gees, June 1973

JESUS IN HEAVEN
Barry Gibb
(or Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb)
unreleased

LIFE, AM I WASTING MY TIME?
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
unreleased

DEAR MR KISSINGER
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
unreleased

YOU’RE MY HEAVEN
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb
unreleased

MY FATHER’S A REBEL
Maurice Gibb
unreleased

WINDOWS OF MY WORLD
possibly Maurice Gibb, Andy Gibb
unreleased

HEAVY BREATHING
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 1974; B side by Bee Gees, June 1974

I CAN’T LET YOU GO
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 1974; B side by Bee Gees, August 1974

THROW A PENNY
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 1974; A side by Bee Gees, June 1974

DOWN THE ROAD
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 1974

DOGS
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 1974

CHARADE
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 1974; A side by Bee Gees, August 1974


recording sessions


Bee Gees

Barry Gibb — vocal, guitar
Robin Gibb — vocal
Maurice Gibb — vocal, bass, piano, keyboard, guitar
Alan Kendall — guitar
unknown — drums
orchestra arranged by unknown
engineer: ?
producer: Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
January 1973, London

KING AND COUNTRY
Barry Gibb (1973)
8 January 1973
stereo (edit) 2:48, lead vocal Barry Gibb
B side, June 1973 (Germany)
stereo 5:19, lead vocal Barry Gibb
Tales from the Brothers Gibb, 1990

LIFE, AM I WASTING MY TIME?
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1973)
8 January 1973
stereo 2:54, lead vocal Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb
unreleased

JESUS IN HEAVEN
Barry Gibb (1973)
8 January 1973
stereo 3:21, lead vocal Barry Gibb
unreleased

DEAR MR KISSINGER
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1973)
12 January 1973
stereo 4:10, lead vocal Robin Gibb, Barry Gibb
unreleased

These four recordings are usually grouped with those for the second Los Angeles album, even though they were made afterwards in London. They were appended to two of the tape reels, ‘Dear Mr Kissinger’ and ‘Jesus in Heaven’ to the end of side 1, and ‘King and Country’ and ‘Life, Am I Wasting My Time?’ to the end of side 2, but a fourteen-song album is unlikely. Three of them were rare political statements by a group that generally avoided specifics. Why did they record four more songs? The album that ran short (Life in a Tin Can) was already being manufactured. The planned second album did not need more songs.

‘Life, Am I Wasting My Time?’, the one non-political song, is the most interesting piece of music. Barry sings the first section in full voice to a pounding beat, and then it cuts into a different slow melody with a raw Robin vocal.

‘King and Country’ was released in Germany as the B side of ‘Wouldn’t I Be Someone’, faded down at only 2:48, which improved it.


Bee Gees

Barry Gibb — vocal, guitar
Robin Gibb — vocal
Maurice Gibb — vocal, bass, piano, keyboard, guitar
Alan Kendall — guitar
unknown — drums
orchestra arranged by unknown
engineer: ?
producer: Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
July 1973, London

YOU’RE MY HEAVEN
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb (1973)
30 July 1973
stereo, lead vocal unknown
unreleased

This tape reel is only an 8-track master, with the notation ‘demo for possible single’. At this date it would have been the last attempt at getting a hit record that would justify an album compiled from the Los Angeles sessions and 1973 recordings.


Jimmy Stevens

Jimmy Stevens — vocal, piano
Alan Kendall — guitar
Jimmy McCulloch — guitar
Pete Willsher — steel guitar
Zoot Money — keyboard
Paul Jones — harmonica
Maurice Gibb — bass
possibly Mike Kellie or Dennis Bryon — drums
unknown — fiddle (‘Maggie May’)
orchestra arranged possibly by Gerry Shury (‘Tennessee’)
engineer: ?
producer: Maurice Gibb
1973, London

MAGGIE MAY
anonymous
undated
stereo, lead vocal Jimmy Stevens
unreleased

FIDDLER’S TRAMP
writer unknown
undated
stereo 3:02, lead vocal Jimmy Stevens
unreleased

TENNESSEE
Buzz Cason, Bobby Russell
undated
stereo, lead vocal Jimmy Stevens
unreleased

SINNER
Jimmy Stevens (1973)
undated
stereo, lead vocal Jimmy Stevens
unreleased

YOKO
Jimmy Stevens (1973)
undated
stereo, lead vocal Jimmy Stevens
unreleased

SHE PUT LOVE IN MY SOUL
Jimmy Stevens (1973)
undated
stereo, lead vocal Jimmy Stevens
unreleased

Jimmy Stevens recalled in 2006 that he met some friends of Alan Kendall in New York in 1973 when he was opening for the Bee Gees, and recorded some songs with them a few months later on for a second Jimmy Stevens album to be produced by Maurice. ‘Maggie May’ is an old Liverpool song (the Beatles play a little bit of it on their album Let It Be). Jimmy does not know where ‘Fiddler’s Tramp’ comes from. ‘Sinner’ and ‘Yoko’ are originals by Jimmy. Lastly ‘She Put Love in My Soul’ also seems to be from this time. One of the oddities about this whole set of songs is that in the available stereo versions Jimmy’s piano has been mixed out of all of them except ‘Maggie May’.

RSO cancelled Jimmy Stevens’s contract by the end of 1973. He had no further recordings until 2008, but he still performs locally in the Liverpool area.


Andy Gibb

Andy Gibb — vocal, possibly guitar
Maurice Gibb — vocal, possibly guitar, bass
others unknown
engineer: ?
producer: Maurice Gibb
August 1973, Nova Sound Studio, London

WINDOWS OF MY WORLD
possibly Maurice Gibb and Andy Gibb (1973)
22 August 1973
stereo 2:47, lead vocal Andy Gibb
unreleased

MY FATHER’S A REBEL
Maurice Gibb (1973)
24 August 1973
stereo 2:44, lead vocal Andy Gibb
unreleased

These were Andy Gibb’s very first recording sessions, at age fifteen. One song was reported as ‘My Father Is a Reb’ in the November 1973 fan club newsletter, which said that it was written by Maurice. The exact dates come from two tape reels sold at auction in 2004. Supposedly the songs were considered for release as a single. ‘My Father’s a Rebel’ is a lively countryish song. Andy already sounds exactly like he did later.


Bee Gees

Barry Gibb — vocal, guitar
Robin Gibb — vocal
Maurice Gibb — vocal, bass, mellotron, organ
Alan Kendall — guitar
Geoff Westley — piano, keyboards
Dennis Bryon — drums
Phil Bonder — clarinet (‘Charade’)
orchestra arranged by Arif Mardin
engineer: Damon Lyon Shaw, Andy Knight
producer: Arif Mardin
November and December 1973, IBC Studios, London

HEAVY BREATHING
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb (1973)
14 November 1973
stereo 3:26, lead vocal Barry Gibb
B side, August 1974; Mr Natural, 1974

I CAN’T LET YOU GO
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1973)
undated November 1973
stereo 3:45, lead vocal Barry Gibb
B side, June 1974; Mr Natural, 1974

The Bee Gees were back at IBC, London, but with Arif Mardin in charge as producer and arranger. The first two songs were harder rock than they had done in Los Angeles, especially ‘Heavy Breathing’ with a strong vocal by Barry and good lead guitar by Alan.

There were two new players on all these tracks. Dennis Bryon and Geoff Westley were in the tour band, and now made their debut with the Bee Gees on disk. Dennis was a friend of Alan, and would be the Bee Gees’s drummer until 1980. The big change here was having Geoff, or anyone, play most of the piano and keyboard parts that had been Maurice’s domain for years.

THROW A PENNY
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb (1973)
17 December 1973
stereo 4:49, lead vocal Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb
A side, June 1974; Mr Natural, 1974

DOWN THE ROAD
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb (1973)
undated December 1973
stereo 3:25, lead vocal Barry Gibb
Mr Natural, 1974

DOGS
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb (1973)
18 December 1973
stereo 3:43, lead vocal Barry Gibb
Mr Natural, 1974

CHARADE
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb (1973)
20 December 1973
stereo 4:13, lead vocal Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb
A side, August 1974; Mr Natural, 1974

Four more songs for the album. ‘Down the Road’ was another hard rocking number featuring Barry and Alan. ‘Dogs’ was in the style of Elton John with the requisite obscure lyrics. The much softer ‘Charade’ made full use of Arif Mardin’s talents as arranger, with a nice clarinet break.

On December 23 they spent some time crossfading ‘Charade’ into ‘Throw a Penny’ with a quiet sound effect, and then ‘Throw a Penny’ into ‘Down the Road’, with possibly a newly recorded link track. No other songs on the album would fade into each other. (The Bee Gees had done a crossfade on Life in a Tin Can out of ‘Saw a New Morning’.)

Recording with Arif Mardin continued in 1974.


selected record releases


Bee Gees : single
UK: RSO, March 1973; US: RSO, March 1973

A SAW A NEW MORNING
B MY LIFE HAS BEEN A SONG

Bee Gees : Life in a Tin Can
UK: RSO, March 1973; US: RSO, January 1973

A 1 SAW A NEW MORNING
A 2 I DON’T WANNA BE THE ONE
A 3 SOUTH DAKOTA MORNING
A 4 LIVING IN CHICAGO

B 1 WHILE I PLAY
B 2 MY LIFE HAS BEEN A SONG
B 3 COME HOME JOHNNY BRIDE
B 4 METHOD TO MY MADNESS

The RSO label debuted with a new single and album by the Bee Gees. The LP was released earlier in the US to tie in with tour dates.

Life in a Tin Can is the first album produced by the Bee Gees alone, although they had done a lot of the record production for years. It’s tempting to read self indulgence into misjudgements like the occasional overblown arrangement and the needless repeats of song sections, but the freedom also leads to some interesting and welcome experiments, including the single ‘Saw a New Morning’ which may not have come across on AM radio in all its dynamic range and clear acoustic guitar sound. It was at least the first American Bee Gees single in stereo.

How bad is it though? Life in a Tin Can and its companion album A Kick in the Head have a little more country influence than previous albums, and a little more pure harmony vocals by all three. It took them closer to the singer-songwriter sound. They were getting more relaxed about writing a lot of verses (‘While I Play’) and letting a song drift along (‘Living in Chicago’) instead of the tight song structures Barry and Robin had been doing. Life in a Tin Can is actually the more radical of the two albums; A Kick in the Head balances the new and old approaches better and probably would have been more commercial.

CD: All on Life in a Tin Can.


Steve Hodson : single
UK: York, January 1973.

A CRYSTAL BAY
B SAN DIEGO BAY

Steve Hodson was a handsome young actor in the Yorkshire television program Follyfoot and made this record for their label York. The record was produced by Jack Winsley and Bob Saker, and Bob wrote the B side. The A side ‘Crystal Bay’ was the last of the collaborations by Maurice and Billy, because of Maurice’s separation from Billy’s sister Lulu.


Jimmy Stevens : Paid My Dues
US: RSO, January 1973.

A 1 PAID MY DUES
A 2 TEARS (BEHIND MY EYES)
A 3 WHEN YOU GROW UP
A 4 GIRL FROM DENVER
A 5 BYE BYE, LOVE

B 1 YOU ARE THERE
B 2 DON’T FREAK ME OUT
B 3 HIGH HEEL BLUES
B 4 SWEET CHILD OF MINE
B 5 YOU’RE THE LADY I WANT TO GROW OLD WITH

The same as the English release Don’t Freak Me Out except for the inclusion of the A side ‘High Heel Blues’, which was issued as a single about the same time, in place of ‘Is It Me Babe’. Apparently the title Don’t Freak Me Out did not appeal to somebody.


Bob Saker : single
UK: York, June 1973.

A THEY’VE TAKEN BACK MY NUMBER
B FAMILY SUNDAY MORNING

Mike Berry : Drift Away
UK: York, June 1973

A 1 TAKE ME HOME, COUNTRY ROADS
A 2 KEEP MY EYES ON THE ROAD
A 3 DRIFT AWAY
A 4 509
A 5 BREAK MY MIND
A 6 TAKIN’ TIME

B 1 ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE
B 2 ME WITHOUT YOU
B 3 YANKEE LADY
B 4 ON TIME
B 5 LOUISIANA MAN
B 6 I’LL SING FOR YOU

Bob Saker : They’ve Taken Back My Number
UK: York, June 1973

A 1 THEY’VE TAKEN BACK MY NUMBER
A 2 509
A 3 FAMILY SUNDAY MORNING
A 4 SHEENA
A 5 ONE WAY RIDE
A 6 BY THE WAY

B 1 SPIGGY BOOKER BACK DOOR JACK AND ME
B 2 LATER WITH YOU (BIG TIME MAN)
B 3 EVERYBODY OUGHT TO GET A GUN
B 4 OOH BE DOO
B 5 DO YOU REMEMBER JOHNNY
B 6 LONG WAY WE GOTTA GO

Mike Berry : single
UK: York, July 1973.

A NOW THAT I’M WITHOUT YOU
B 509

Bob Saker and Mike Berry recorded their albums together with all the same musicians. Maurice is one of the two bass players listed on the LP sleeves, but there is no clue which songs he played on. Those shown above in color are the most obvious candidates judging solely by listening. It’s quite possible Maurice plays on other songs too.


Graham Bonnet : single
UK: RCA, June 1973.

A TRYING TO SAY GOODBYE
A CASTLES IN THE AIR

First released version of ‘Castles in the Air’, just ahead of its planned release on the next Bee Gees album. Produced by Maurice and Billy, but they probably did not sing or play on it. Graham had been in the Marbles (see 1968 and 1969). This may also be the first release of the A side, ‘Trying to Say Goodbye’ by Neil Sedaka and Phil Cody.


Bee Gees : single
UK: RSO, June 1973; US: RSO, July 1973

A WOULDN’T I BE SOMEONE
B ELISA

Bee Gees : single
Germany: RSO, June 1973

A WOULDN’T I BE SOMEONE
B KING AND COUNTRY

The very long ‘Wouldn’t I Be Someone’ was faded early on singles. Each country did its own edit, ranging from 4:05 in Germany to 3:55 in the US. Polydor Germany somehow released a different song on the B side, ‘King and Country’, faded out quickly at 2:48, for many years the only release of the song.

CD: All three on Tales from the Brothers Gibb.


Bee Gees : A Kick in the Head Is Worth Eight in the Pants
proposed, 1973

A 1 ELISA
A 2 WOULDN’T I BE SOMEONE
A 3 A LONELY VIOLIN
A 4 LOSERS AND LOVERS
A 5 HOME AGAIN RIVERS

B 1 HARRY’S GATE
B 2 ROCKY L A
B 3 CASTLES IN THE AIR
B 4 WHERE IS YOUR SISTER
B 5 IT DOESN’T MATTER MUCH TO ME

This is the running order of the proposed album as fixed on December 4, 1972. The commercial failure of Life in a Tin Can caused Robert Stigwood to withhold this entire album, which should have appeared not too long after the single, about August 1973.

The rejection was a landmark in the Bee Gees’ career that led to them working with Arif Mardin and ultimately to the dance music that made them superstars— but that was in the future. For the time being the brothers felt they had reached an all-time low.

CD: ‘Elisa’ and ‘Wouldn’t I Be Someone’ on Tales from the Brothers Gibb. This version of ‘It Doesn’t Matter Much to Me’ was released in 1974 on the LP Gotta Get a Message to You but has never appeared on CD. Thirty seconds of ‘Castles in the Air’ appeared on a promo LP called Words and Music in 1978, but never on CD.


Best of Bee Gees volume 2
UK: RSO, August 1973

A 1 HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART (1971)
A 2 I O I O (1969)
A 3 DON’T WANNA LIVE INSIDE MYSELF (1971)
A 4 MELODY FAIR (1969)
A 5 MY WORLD (1972)
A 6 LET THERE BE LOVE (1968)
A 7 SAVED BY THE BELL (1969)

B 1 LONELY DAYS (1970)
B 2 MORNING OF MY LIFE (1971)
B 3 DON’T FORGET TO REMEMBER (1969)
B 4 AND THE SUN WILL SHINE (1968)
B 5 RUN TO ME (1972)
B 6 MAN FOR ALL SEASONS (1970)
B 7 ALIVE (1972)

Best of Bee Gees volume 2
US: RSO, August 1973

A 1 WOULDN’T I BE SOMEONE
A 2 I O I O (1970)
A 3 MY WORLD (1972)
A 4 SAVED BY THE BELL (1969)
A 5 DON’T FORGET TO REMEMBER (1969)
A 6 AND THE SUN WILL SHINE (1968)
A 7 RUN TO ME (1972)
A 8 MAN FOR ALL SEASONS (1970)

B 1 HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART (1971)
B 2 DON’T WANNA LIVE INSIDE MYSELF (1971)
B 3 MELODY FAIR (1969)
B 4 LET THERE BE LOVE (1968)
B 5 LONELY DAYS (1970)
B 6 MORNING OF MY LIFE (1971)
B 7 ALIVE (1972)

Best of Bee Gees volume 2 may have been rushed to market to take the place of A Kick in the Head. The attraction for fans was the first release of the full-length ‘Wouldn’t I Be Someone’ (on the US version only) and the 1970 version of ‘Morning of My Life’ that was previously available only on the Melody soundtrack. Some of the other choices are just baffling. There is no obvious reason for the presence of the album cuts ‘And the Sun Will Shine’, ‘Let There Be Love’, and ‘Melody Fair’ from the time period covered in the first Best of Bee Gees, and no compelling reason for the B side ‘Man for all Seasons’. Among the missing are the solo singles of 1970, and the two most recent singles, ‘Saw a New Morning’ and (outside North America) ‘Wouldn’t I Be Someone’.

CD: The CD Best of Bee Gees volume 2 has the UK song sequence. The long ‘Wouldn’t I Be Someone’ finally appeared on CD in the Tales box.


Bee Gees : Kitty Can
South America: RSO, 1973

A 1 KITTY CAN (1968)
A 2 RAILROAD (1970)
A 3 BARKER OF THE UFO (1967)
A 4 I’LL KISS YOUR MEMORY (1970)
A 5 COUNTRY WOMAN (1971)
A 6 ONE MILLION YEARS (1969)
A 7 ON TIME (1972)

B 1 THE SINGER SANG HIS SONG (1968)
B 2 JUMBO (1968)
B 3 SINKING SHIPS (1968)
B 4 I’VE COME BACK (1970)
B 5 AUGUST OCTOBER (1970)
B 6 WOULDN’T I BE SOMEONE (1973)
B 7 THIS TIME (1970)

Latin American Bee Gees releases deserve a separate study. They did not start in 1967, and Polydor’s Latin American division seems to have had a free rein to issue variant forms of albums and special collections. This one was the first unusual collection to be issued on the RSO label, and it was of special interest to collectors— those who somehow heard about it in the pre-Internet world— because of the many rare single sides it contained.

This was the first LP appearance anywhere of four songs: the 1968 A side ‘Jumbo’, Maurice’s B side ‘I’ve Come Back’, Barry’s B side ‘This Time’, and the 1971 B side ‘Country Woman’. Additionally Robin’s ‘One Million Years’, Maurice’s ‘Railroad’, and Barry’s ‘I’ll Kiss Your Memory’ had still not appeared on LP in the UK or US. The B sides ‘Barker of the UFO’, ‘Sinking Ships’, and ‘The Singer Sang His Song’ had appeared on LP only on the UK LP Massachusetts in 1972. The title song, a B side and album cut in 1968, was in fact the only song here that was not at least somewhat rare. Sadly ‘Wouldn’t I Be Someone’ was here in an early-fade single form rather than its full five and a half minutes.


Roy Head : single
US: TMI, 1973.

A CAROL
B CLYDE O’REILLY

First released version of Barry’s 1970 song ‘Clyde O’Reilly’. Roy Head was a Texas country rock singer. The date is unknown but appears to be in the second half of 1973. The single was also released on RCA in Australia.


Billy Lawrie : Ship Imagination
UK: RCA, December 1973.

  FREEDOM

This song was possibly recorded in 1970 or 1971, with Maurice on bass. The album was produced by Gary Osborne and Billy Lawrie, not naming Maurice or the Moby Productions company.


Ian B MacLeod : Restless
Australia: Troubador, 1973; Bunyip, 1974.

  RINGS OF GOLD
  KEEP ON SMILING
  GIVE YOUR BEST

This album by Australian country singer Ian B MacLeod has nothing to do with the Bee Gees other than a cover of ‘Give Your Best’. But these three songs are the only recorded appearance of the ‘sister of the world famous Bee Gees’ (as she is billed), Lesley Gibb, singing duet with Ian. She also appears on the cover of the first release on Troubador, released some time in 1973.

The group Ian B MacLeod and the Major Six recorded two songs at Ossie Byrne’s St Clair studio in 1966. Whether the Bee Gees were there that day is unknown.