1974


After a tour of the United States early in the year the Bee Gees ended up playing small clubs in England, wondering about their future. The album Mr Natural and its singles did not sell. However bleak things were in England, by this date the Bee Gees had a truly worldwide following that should not be overlooked. Their records were popular in Japan and Australia, and the 1974 tour to that part of the world found the Bee Gees performing before enthusiastic fans in large sold-out venues.

Maurice’s creativity was slipping badly by 1974. They say he never missed a show or a recording session. But most of the new songs now were by Barry and Robin only. The incredible energy Maurice had had for writing, producing, and playing for other artists was gone. He could play bass and sing harmony in his sleep. These were his dark years.

Regardless of the sales of Mr Natural Arif Mardin believed in the group and wanted to work with them some more. This led Robert Stigwood to arrange more sessions early in 1975. Dennis Bryon suggested adding Blue Weaver, who had played keyboards with him in Amen Corner. After a very brief audition with the Gibb brothers late in 1974 they invited him to come with them to Miami Beach in January. No one knew it, but a breakthrough would come when they got there.


songs


VOICES
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 1974

MR NATURAL
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb
A side by Bee Gees, March 1974; album cut by Bee Gees, 1974

LOST IN YOUR LOVE
Barry Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 1974

HAD A LOT OF LOVE LAST NIGHT
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 1974

Only four new songs!


recording sessions


Bee Gees

Barry Gibb — vocal, guitar
Robin Gibb — vocal
Maurice Gibb — vocal, bass
Alan Kendall — guitar
Geoff Westley — piano, keyboards
Dennis Bryon — drums
arranged by Arif Mardin
engineer: Damon Lyon Shaw, Andy Knight
producer: Arif Mardin
January 1974, IBC Studios, London

IT DOESN’T MATTER MUCH TO ME
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1972)
4 January 1974
stereo 3:50, lead vocal Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb
B side, March 1974

VOICES
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1974)
5 January 1974
stereo 4:50, lead vocal Robin Gibb, Barry Gibb
Mr Natural, 1974

These would be the Bee Gees’s last sessions at IBC. On January 4 they re-made one of the unreleased songs from 1973, ‘It Doesn’t Matter Much to Me’, a little faster, with more backing vocals and a bigger arrangement. It ended up as a B side. The next day they recorded a new song, ‘Voices’, a ballad that would have fit alongside the 1973 songs, and did some more work on ‘Throw a Penny’.


Bee Gees

Barry Gibb — vocal, guitar
Robin Gibb — vocal
Maurice Gibb — vocal, bass
Alan Kendall — guitar
Geoff Westley — piano, keyboards
Dennis Bryon — drums
arranged by Arif Mardin
engineer: Alan Lucas
producer: Arif Mardin
January 1974, Command Studios, London

MR NATURAL
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb (1974)
8 January 1974
stereo 3:46, lead vocal Robin Gibb, Barry Gibb
single, March 1974; Mr Natural, 1974

HAD A LOT OF LOVE LAST NIGHT
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1974)
undated 1974
stereo 4:07, lead vocal Barry Gibb
Mr Natural, 1974

Days later they continued at Command Studios. They must have been pleased with ‘Mr Natural’, an electric rock number. It was chosen as the first single from these sessions and became the title song of the new album. It does not rock as hard as ‘Down the Road’ or ‘Heavy Breathing’ which might have been better choices. Barry was singing well on all these rock songs but they did not seem to suit Robin’s voice, and Robin starts ‘Mr Natural’. The other song ‘Had a Lot of Love Last Night’ features beautiful three-part harmony and a fine lead vocal by Barry, accompanied by Geoff Westley on piano. Two versions of it were recorded.


Bee Gees

Barry Gibb — vocal, guitar
Robin Gibb — vocal
Maurice Gibb — vocal, bass, organ
Alan Kendall — guitar
Geoff Westley — piano, keyboards
Dennis Bryon — drums
arranged by Arif Mardin
engineer: Gene Paul
producer: Arif Mardin
January 1974, Atlantic Recording Studio, New York

GIVE A HAND, TAKE A HAND
Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1969)
21 January 1974
stereo 4:44, lead vocal Barry Gibb
Mr Natural, 1974

LOST IN YOUR LOVE
Barry Gibb (1974)
28 January 1974
stereo 4:36, lead vocal Barry Gibb
Mr Natural, 1974

The album was completed at two sessions in New York. Maurice later expressed their frustration at having to fit in recording sessions between tour dates. At the first session they re-made a song that Barry and Maurice had written in 1969 and that had been released that year as a B side by P P Arnold. Compared to their 1969 demo, this version is slower and emphasizes more the gospel sound of the melody. A week later, for the last song, Barry contributed a very nice ballad with some of the same feel to it, starting cool and becoming more emotional as it goes.

The album notes mention ‘additional recording’ with engineers Gene Paul and Lew Hahn, thus probably at Atlantic in New York. This would be the orchestral parts directed by Arif Mardin.

This was the last Bee Gees recording for eleven months, the longest they had ever gone since they started in 1963.


Andy Gibb

Andy Gibb — vocal, guitar
John Alderson — guitar
John Stringer — drums
Maurice Gibb — organ
unknown — bass, cello
engineer: ?
producer: Col Joye
September 1974, ATA Studio, Sydney

TO A GIRL
Andy Gibb (1974)
undated 1974
stereo, lead vocal Andy Gibb
unreleased

Andy Gibb turned sixteen on March 5, 1974. By June he was playing professionally with his band Melody Fayre, mostly on the Isle of Man. In September they went to Australia with the idea of making it big there and then returning to England.

In Australia Andy began working under the guidance of Col Joye and Kevin Jacobsen, who had helped the Bee Gees twelve years earlier. His planned first single and only completed recording of 1974 was ‘To A Girl’, which included a cello part and a guest appearance by Maurice on organ. Maurice’s appearance narrows the unknown recording date to September, when the Bee Gees played in Australia. As John Stringer recalls it, Andy needed help with the melody, so Maurice and John Alderson might deserve credit as co-writers.

Andy made his television debut in Australia performing this song on The Ernie Sigley Show, Ernie informing the audience that it was from his forthcoming album. The single however never appeared.


Andy Gibb

Andy Gibb — vocal, guitar
John Alderson — guitar
John Stringer — drums
unknown — bass
engineer: ?
producer: Col Joye
about November 1974, ATA Studio, Sydney

YOU’VE GOT TO LIVE YOUR LIFE
Andy Gibb (1974)
undated 1974
stereo, lead vocal Andy Gibb
unreleased

FLOWING RIVERS
Andy Gibb (1974)
undated 1974
stereo, lead vocal Andy Gibb
unreleased

WESTFIELD MANSIONS
Andy Gibb (1974)
undated 1974
stereo, lead vocal Andy Gibb
unreleased

WORDS AND MUSIC
Andy Gibb (1974)
undated 1974
stereo, lead vocal Andy Gibb
unreleased

MISTER MOVER
Andy Gibb (1974)
undated 1974
stereo, lead vocal Andy Gibb
unreleased

TURN ME ON
Andy Gibb (1974)
undated 1974
stereo, lead vocal Andy Gibb
unreleased

Barry, Robin, and Maurice had absolutely no involvement in these recordings, which are shown here only to fill in Andy’s musical career.

These six song demos appear on a rehearsal tape Andy made one day at Col Joye’s ATA studio. Possibly the date was around November and the band were Melody Fayre and a bass player (as shown above), or possibly the date was 1975 and the band were Zenta, Andy’s second band. The songs include ballads and rockers. This version of ‘Flowing Rivers’ includes am additional second verse missing from the one recorded in 1976.


selected record releases


Bee Gees : single
UK: RSO, March 1974; US: RSO, March 1974.

A MR NATURAL
B IT DOESN’T MATTER MUCH TO ME

The first single from the Arif Mardin sessions, with a non-album B side.

CD: ‘Mr Natural’ on Mr Natural. Both on Tales from the Brothers Gibb.


Bee Gees : single
US: RSO, June 1974.

A THROW A PENNY
B I CAN’T LET YOU GO

A second US-only single just before the album release date. Atlantic (which still distributed the RSO label) edited ‘Throw a Penny’ to 3:32, removing the quiet middle section.

CD: Both on Mr Natural.


Bee Gees : Mr Natural
UK: RSO, July 1974; US: RSO, July 1974.

A 1 CHARADE
A 2 THROW A PENNY
A 3 DOWN THE ROAD
A 4 VOICES
A 5 GIVE A HAND, TAKE A HAND

B 1 DOGS
B 2 MR NATURAL
B 3 LOST IN YOUR LOVE
B 4 I CAN’T LET YOU GO
B 5 HEAVY BREATHING
B 6 HAD A LOT OF LOVE LAST NIGHT

Mr Natural barely dented the charts and is one of the Bee Gees’ most obscure albums. In retrospect it was the key transition from the old Bee Gees to the new, but at the time it was an experiment that seemed to have failed. It is not a bad album though. There are more rock songs than usual, and Barry turns in some very strong vocals.

The Bee Gees are not pictured anywhere in the album package. The front and back are an art concept of a man in a bar, looking blissfully out the window on the front and being ejected smiling on the back. The group are not shown on the outside of the next album either although on that one there is at least a small monochrome photo on the inner sleeve. Some have said Atlantic had the idea of hiding the fact that they were white Englishmen.

CD: All on Mr Natural.


Bee Gees : single
UK: RSO, August 1974; US: RSO, August 1974.

A CHARADE
B HEAVY BREATHING

A second or third single. ‘Charade’ was edited to 3:14 for the single. They kept avoiding the rock songs that were going over well in the live shows. None of these singles went anywhere.

CD: Both on Mr Natural.


Bee Gees : I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You
UK: Contour, 1974

A 1 I’VE GOTTA GET A MESSAGE TO YOU (1968)
A 2 ELISA (1973)
A 3 ROAD TO ALASKA (1972)
A 4 MY LIFE HAS BEEN A SONG (1973)
A 5 JUMBO (1968)
A 6 I AM THE WORLD (1966)

B 1 WORLD (1967)
B 2 RAILROAD (1970)
B 3 ONE MILLION YEARS (1969)
B 4 I’LL KISS YOUR MEMORY (1970)
B 5 IT DOESN’T MATTER MUCH TO ME
B 6 PAPER MACHE, CABBAGES AND KINGS (1972)

This is more or less part 2 of the Massachusetts LP of 1972, but it still did not get all the rarities on the South American Kitty Can LP of 1972. Once again each side starts with a well-known song, and the rest is B sides and one non-album A side.

This was the first UK appearance of the stereo mix of ‘I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You’ that had been on the Atco versions of Idea and Best of Bee Gees. The B side ‘Elisa’ made its first LP appearance anywhere. ‘Jumbo’, Maurice’s ‘Railroad’, Robin’s ‘One Million Years’, and Barry’s ‘I’ll Kiss Your Memory’ made their first LP appearances in Britain.

‘Jumbo’ and ‘I Am the World’ (their first B side on Polydor) are mono reprocessed to simulate stereo because there was no stereo mix, and ‘I’ll Kiss Your Memory’ is also reprocessed even though there was a stereo mix.

There are two real rarities. In August a stereo mix of ‘One Million Years’ was prepared specifically for this LP, and by some means it has an alternate lead vocal track. This mix has never appeared on any other release. Even better, ‘It Doesn't Matter Much to Me’ is not the B side, but the completely different, previously unreleased version from the Kick in the Head album, also making its only appearance on this LP.