1990


Few dates are known for 1990. After a busy year of touring in 1989 the Bee Gees this year performed publicly only for a few special events. During the course of the year they recorded their third and last album for Warner Bros, documented in a tape submitted for copyrights in December.

As outside projects, Maurice started another film score, and Barry created one or two songs for a young singer.

In time for Christmas, Polygram issued the first Bee Gees box set, covering their entire career since 1967 including a few songs from the Warner Bros releases.


songs


SONJA
Maurice Gibb
no record

DON’T TAKE AWAY THE MAGIC
Amanda Green, George Perry, Scott Glasel, Maurice Gibb
no record

LET ME WAKE UP IN YOUR ARMS
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
album cut by Lulu, 1993

HUMAN SACRIFICE
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 1991

WHEN HE’S GONE
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 1991; A side by Bee Gees, May 1991

SECRET LOVE
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
A side by Bee Gees, March 1991; album cut by Bee Gees, 1991

GHOST TRAIN
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 1991

DIMENSIONS
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 1991

PARTY WITH NO NAME
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 1991

TRUE CONFESSIONS
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
B side by Bee Gees, March 1991; album cut by Bee Gees, 1991

HIGH CIVILISATION
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 1991

THE ONLY LOVE
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 1991; A side by Bee Gees, August 1991

HAPPY EVER AFTER
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 1991

BORN TO BE LOVED BY YOU
Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb
no record

EVOLUTION
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 1991

The songs from ‘Human Sacrifice’ to ‘Happy Ever After’ were submitted to the US copyright office on one tape called ‘High Civilization mixes’ on December 10, 1990. The songs ‘Let Me Wake Up in Your Arms’ and ‘Born to Be Loved by You’ were also copyright the same date but on separate tapes.


recording sessions


Maurice Gibb

Maurice Gibb — keyboard, synthesizer
engineer:
producer:
about March 1990, Panther House, Miami Beach

Maurice took on another film score project, Sonja. It was based on the 1984 nonfiction book The Doctor and the Damned, Albert Haas’s account of his experiences in the French Resistance in World War II and in a concentration camp as a prisoner doctor. Sonja was his wife, imprisoned separately. Andy Gibb had been inspired by the book and suggested the brothers get it made into a movie. Maurice and Robin now wanted to produce it. But the project did not get off the ground. Nonetheless somewhere in the vault are Maurice’s instrumental tracks for it.


Amanda Green

Amanda Green — vocal, guitar
George Perry — bass
possibly Maurice Gibb — keyboard
others unknown
engineer: Scott Glasel
producer: Scott Glasel
1990, Middle Ear, Miami Beach

DON’T TAKE AWAY THE MAGIC
Amanda Green, George Perry, Scott Glasel, Maurice Gibb (1990)
undated 1990
stereo 3:32, lead vocal Amanda Green
unreleased

Amanda Green worked at Middle Ear, and recorded an album of songs in available studio time in 1990. This one song was co-written with Maurice, so he may have played on it. Barry said for a while that he would help promote Amanda’s work but he changed his mind later, and this album was never released. Her boyfriend Scott Glasel quit working as engineer at Middle Ear not long after that.

This dance track with high breathy vocals was not the road Amanda would later take with her music. The first Amanda Green album, Junk and Stuff (1996), featured none of these early songs, and had a wide ranging musical approach one reviewer called ‘fun and energetic’. She has released further recordings under her own name and as her band the Audients, in which she plays loud electric guitar. While she performs most often in her home town, Miami, Amanda has toured widely.

(Amanda Green of Miami is not to be confused with singer-songwriter Amanda Green, the daughter of Adolf Green and Phyllis Newman, who has written songs and performed in New York.)


Bee Gees

Barry Gibb — vocal, guitar
Robin Gibb — vocal
Maurice Gibb — vocal, keyboards, synthesizer, guitar
Tim Moore — keyboards, synthesizer, programming
Alan Kendall — guitar
George Perry — bass
Lenny Castro — percussion
possibly Julia Waters, Maxine Waters — vocal
engineer: Femi Jiya; John Merchant
producer: Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb
1990, Middle Ear, Miami Beach

The Bee Gees album High Civilisation (High Civilization in American spelling). All of the songs except ‘Evolution’ were registered for US copyright on December 10, 1990, in the order shown here. ‘Evolution’ followed separately on February 5, 1991. Nothing is known about recording dates.

The songs as sequenced on the ‘High Civilization mixes’ tell a story of ‘secret love’ that might be all in the singer’s head and secret from the girl too. He hesitates one moment and speaks explicitly the next, but is he telling her what he feels or only imagining it? The contradictions give the story a dreamlike effect of details shifting while the singer’s feelings remain consistent. The only song that does not fit is the dystopian political title song, unless (as a stretch) it expresses the singer’s anger and confusion with the world as he feels things are all falling apart. He then casts it all as a romantic tragedy, before finally proposing that maybe even the girl being in love with someone else does not mean the end of it. It is very unusual for a Bee Gees album to carry a consistent idea across all the songs and therefore notable that they chose to undercut the theme by changing the running order for release and saying nothing about it.

The Bee Gees recorded this and the next album Size Isn’t Everything with engineer Femi Jiya, known for work with Prince. Both have a hard-edged loud percussion sound that grabs attention and pushes the Gibb vocals a little farther back than usual.

HUMAN SACRIFICE
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1990)
undated 1990
stereo 5:37, lead vocal Barry Gibb
High Civilisation, 1991

WHEN HE’S GONE
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1990)
undated 1990
stereo 5:53, lead vocal Robin Gibb
High Civilisation, 1991; A side, May 1991

The story opens in two songs with absolutely pounding dance beats and synthesizer effects. In ‘Human Sacrifice’ Barry protests the girl moving away, somewhat frighteningly offering to be a human sacrifice, ‘shoot my love between the eyes’, if he cannot have her. In ‘When He’s Gone’ Robin (as the same character) lets her know that he will be waiting for when her boyfriend leaves. Both songs have some of their lead singer in them, with Barry’s line ‘never wanna lose control’ and Robin’s ominous waiting right out of ‘One Million Years’ (1969), yet they combine into a consistent stalker. ‘When He’s Gone’ ends with a long instrumental of Alan Kendall’s guitar and someone’s synthesizer horns.

SECRET LOVE
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1990)
undated 1990
stereo 3:38, lead vocal Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb
A side, March 1991; High Civilisation, 1991

Sonic relief in the sparser ‘Secret Love’, with a nice Motown beat reminiscent of ‘Chain Reaction’. The change makes the song stand out, and having Barry and Robin both sing a verse confirms that they are voicing the same character. This was a logical lead single both musically and thematically, and may have been written specifically to order.

GHOST TRAIN
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1990)
undated 1990
stereo 6:02, lead vocal Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb
High Civilisation, 1991

DIMENSIONS
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1990)
undated 1990
stereo 5:25, lead vocal Maurice Gibb
High Civilisation, 1991

The singer here becomes more spooky. In ‘Ghost Train’ Barry imagines how strange it would be to go to see the girl, to a chorus of ‘shouldn’t do it’. Maurice makes it even more explicit in ‘Dimensions’ imagining her as a ‘love machine’. Both songs introduce some nerdy science fiction aspects: the reference to Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land and travel to the girl’s dimension. The protagonist is in a fantasy world.

The extended ending of ‘Ghost Train’ has a babble of synthesizer sound, children’s voices, and what appears to be a drum sample of Ringo Starr from ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.

PARTY WITH NO NAME
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1990)
undated 1990
stereo 4:50, lead vocal Barry Gibb
High Civilisation, 1991

TRUE CONFESSIONS
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1990)
undated 1990
stereo 5:14, lead vocal Barry Gibb
B side, March 1991; High Civilisation, 1991

Barry refers to himself as the ‘Party with No Name’, sung to a happy dance beat, offering to ‘die so she could live’, the same clash of music and lyric opposites as in some of the Bee Gees’ 1960s songs. It’s the sad clown. The girl’s ‘True Confessions’ threaten to break his heart— has he now spoken to her and had a dose of reality? The transition to the next song is in the last verse, where he says he is ready for war.

HIGH CIVILISATION
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1990)
undated 1990
stereo 5:27, lead vocal Robin Gibb, Barry Gibb
High Civilisation, 1991

‘High Civilisation’ has people running screaming in the streets to Robin’s robotic predictions of doom and Barry’s recitation of places (including Afghanistan and Iran, in 1990) as he counts down to ‘are you ready for the end?’. The cut originally ran about 20 seconds longer and had sound bites of political leaders dubbed in here and there. The chorus is disconcertingly off the beat, and it ends in a frenzy of percussion and distorted guitar that fades away.

THE ONLY LOVE
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1990)
undated 1990
stereo 5:32, lead vocal Barry Gibb
High Civilisation, 1991; A side, August 1991

HAPPY EVER AFTER
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1990)
undated 1990
stereo 6:15, lead vocal Barry Gibb
High Civilisation, 1991

Barry’s big ballads have in the context of what came before more impact than usual. He had often sung of tragic romance, but now it sounds like a desperate attempt to give meaning to the singer’s life. Musically ‘The Only Love’ sounds like an extended Barry verse welded to the type of big singalong chorus that Robin and Maurice always favored. The lyrics are well put and under the circumstances he seems entitled to the over-the-top repeats at the finish.

The ironic ‘Happy Ever After’ makes explicit one of the undercurrents of the fantasy, that it is an older man dreaming of a much younger girl. It’s hinted at elsewhere, like in ‘Ghost Train’ where he says he was born too soon. This would explain his difficulty in gaining her interest. Barry as the protagonist still hasn’t given up though, and wonders whether there will be a happy ending.

EVOLUTION
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1990)
undated 1990
stereo 5:36, lead vocal Barry Gibb
High Civilisation, 1991

‘Evolution’ was filed two months after the other songs but sounds as if it was recorded along with them. Its rather hot subject matter may have led to some disagreement over including it, but at any rate it needs to be last. The happy ending now involves the protagonist imagining the girl and her boyfriend together, and even all three of them together. He seems to be trying to convince himself that this would be a ‘form of evolution’. Wait till he tells her!

This completed the album. It was released in April 1991, with probably little or nothing added that year.


Kelli Wolfe

Kelli Wolfe — vocal
Barry Gibb — vocal, guitar
Stephen Gibb — guitar
George Perry — bass
Lester Mendez — keyboards, programming
engineer:
producer: Barry Gibb and Scott Glasel
September 1990, Middle Ear, Miami Beach

BORN TO BE LOVED BY YOU
Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1990)
undated 1990
stereo 4:41, lead vocal Kelli Wolfe
unreleased B side, August 1993

Kelli Hartman, performing as Kelli Wolfe, was age 19 when Barry first heard her perform in Miami. He offered to sign her to Polydor. As she recalled in 1998, Barry first offered her ‘The Only Love’, but he then replaced it with a song he wrote specifically for her, ‘Born to Be Loved by You’. Kelli has a demo of it with just Barry on voice and guitar. The recording they made together features Barry’s son Steve, age 17, playing guitar, and backing vocals by Barry. Kelli dated it as September.

After recording this one track, Barry lost interest in recording Kelli, but characteristically he would not say so outright, and let her continue to visit Middle Ear over the next couple of years. Ultimately ‘Born to Be Loved by You’ was slated for the B side of a Kelli Wolfe single in 1993, but it was withheld at the last minute after CD singles had been manufactured, and some copies of it were sent to radio stations and even accidentally sold.

The song ‘Let Me Wake Up in Your Arms’ dates from the same time, so it was probably also for Kelli, but she was not told about it.


selected record releases


Bee Gees : single
US: Warner Bros, 1990.

A BODYGUARD
B WILL YOU EVER LET ME

In the US Warner Bros issued an odd cassette-only single of ‘Bodyguard’ early in 1990 that did not chart. Promo copies did get it some radio play. This was the second US single off One.


Nobody’s Child: Romanian Angel Appeal
US: Warner Bros, August 1990; UK: Warner Bros, August 1990

  HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART (live 1989)

This charity album for the Romanian orphans included a live Bee Gees cut recorded at the National Tennis Center, Melbourne, on November 18, 1989, that was not otherwise available.


Tales from the Brothers Gibb
US: Polygram, November 1990; UK: Polygram, November 1990

01 NEW YORK MINING DISASTER 1941 (1967)
02 I CAN’T SEE NOBODY (1967)
03 TO LOVE SOMEBODY (1967)
04 HOLIDAY (1967)
05 MASSACHUSETTS (1967)
06 BARKER OF THE UFO (1967)
07 WORLD (1967)
08 SIR GEOFFREY SAVED THE WORLD (1967)
09 AND THE SUN WILL SHINE (1968)
10 WORDS (1968)
11 SINKING SHIPS (1968)
12 JUMBO (1968)
13 THE SINGER SANG HIS SONG (1968)
14 I’VE GOTTA GET A MESSAGE TO YOU (1968)
15 I STARTED A JOKE (1968)
16 FIRST OF MAY (1969)
17 MELODY FAIR (1969)
18 TOMORROW TOMORROW (1969)
19 SUN IN MY MORNING (1969)
20 SAVED BY THE BELL (1969)
21 DON’T FORGET TO REMEMBER (1969)
22 IF ONLY I HAD MY MIND ON SOMETHING ELSE (1970)
23 I O I O (1970)
24 RAILROAD (1970)
25 I’LL KISS YOUR MEMORY (1970)

01 LONELY DAYS (1970)
02 MORNING OF MY LIFE (1971)
03 HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART (1971)
04 COUNTRY WOMAN (1971)
05 DON’T WANNA LIVE INSIDE MYSELF (1971)
06 MY WORLD (1972)
07 ON TIME (1972)
08 RUN TO ME (1972)
09 ALIVE (1972)
10 SAW A NEW MORNING (1973)
11 WOULDN’T I BE SOMEONE (1973)
12 ELISA (1973)
13 KING AND COUNTRY (1973)
14 MR NATURAL (1974)
15 IT DOESN’T MATTER MUCH TO ME (1974)
16 THROW A PENNY (1974)
17 CHARADE (1974)

01 JIVE TALKIN’ (1975)
02 NIGHTS ON BROADWAY (1975)
03 FANNY (BE TENDER WITH MY LOVE) (1975)
04 YOU SHOULD BE DANCING (1976)
05 LOVE SO RIGHT (1976)
06 BOOGIE CHILD (1976)
07 EDGE OF THE UNIVERSE (live 1976) (1977)
08 HOW DEEP IS YOUR LOVE (1977)
09 STAYIN’ ALIVE (1977)
10 NIGHT FEVER (1977)
11 MORE THAN A WOMAN (1977)
12 IF I CAN’T HAVE YOU (1977)
13 DON’T THROW IT ALL AWAY (1979)
14 TOO MUCH HEAVEN (1978)
15 TRAGEDY (1979)
16 LOVE YOU INSIDE OUT (1979)

01 HE’S A LIAR (1981)
02 ANOTHER LONELY NIGHT IN NEW YORK (1983)
03 THE WOMAN IN YOU (1983)
04 SOMEONE BELONGING TO SOMEONE (1983)
05 TOYS (1985)
06 MY ETERNAL LOVE (1988)
07 WHERE TOMORROW IS (1988)
08 LETTING GO (1988)
09 E S P (demo)
10 YOU WIN AGAIN (1987)
11 ORDINARY LIVES (1989)
12 ONE (1989)
13 JULIET (live 1989)
14 TO LOVE SOMEBODY (live 1989)
15 NEW YORK MINING DISASTER 1941 (live 1989)
16 HOLIDAY (live 1989)
17 TOO MUCH HEAVEN (live 1989)
18 HEARTBREAKER (live 1989)
19 ISLANDS IN THE STREAM (live 1989)
20 RUN TO ME (live 1989)
21 WORLD (live 1989)
22 SPICKS AND SPECKS (live 1989)

The Bee Gees box set, on four CDs. Announced as a major career retrospective, this is actually a slightly uneasy combination of greatest hits, rare B sides, and a short live album. Essential album cuts— ‘Odessa’ would be a prime example— were outside the scope of the package. It is hard to summarize 23 years of prolific recordings on four disks. The same problem the Bee Gees faced in planning concerts haunts this box: once you include all the hits, that’s quite long enough already.

Whatever one’s alternate choices would have been, this was an important set that no fan could be without. The older songs sounded much better than on any previous release, mainly because Polydor had finally been allowed to remaster from the original stereo mixes instead of from the album masters. Songs on the first disk showed the most improvement over earlier releases.

Previously unreleased recordings were limited to the demo of ‘E S P’, the second half of ‘King and Country’, and the 1989 live recordings on the fourth CD. Staff at Polygram led by their box set wizard Bill Levenson proposed the inclusion of more unreleased songs or versions, but after tossing the idea around the Bee Gees decided against it. A couple of the B sides had had very limited release. ‘Barker of the UFO’ was unreleased in North America. ‘King and Country’ was unreleased outside Germany.

For this set, reissue engineer extraordinaire Bill Inglot made the first ever stereo mixes of many old songs, using the mono mixes as a reference. The following appeared here in stereo for the first time: ‘Barker of the UFO’, ‘Sir Geoffrey Saved the World’, ‘Sinking Ships’, ‘Jumbo’, ‘The Singer Sang His Song’, ‘Tomorrow Tomorrow’, and ‘Sun in My Morning’. Bill also made significantly improved stereo mixes of ‘World’ and ‘Words’, and he made a special stereo mix of ‘I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You’ in the style of the mono mix heard on the single. Finally he made a new stereo mix of ‘I’ll Kiss Your Memory’.

The fourth disk raises the most questions. Robin’s ‘Juliet’ may well have been omitted because it appears in a live Bee Gees version, but where is ‘Boys Do Fall in Love’? And where are Barry’s singles ‘Shine Shine’ and ‘Fine Line’ or his Hawks single ‘Childhood Days’? Maurice’s rare non-album single ‘Hold Her in Your Hand’ would have been a good inclusion as well. Despite these omissions there are no less than three songs from Barry’s unreleased album, ‘My Eternal Love’, ‘Where Tomorrow Is’, and ‘Letting Go’, although all three were quietly dropped from the North American version of the box.

The attractive packaging includes symbols for each song, photos taken in 1989 at a video shoot, and comments from one of the brothers on each song. No historic photos were used. As to the symbols, the artist did not provide a key even to package coordinator Bill Levenson, and while some are pretty obvious others continue to challenge fans’ imaginations.

The set was also issued as a four-cassette box and in Europe as a six-LP box. A CD reissue a few years later replaced the 12 x 12 inch box with a 12 x 6 inch book package.


Very Best of Bee Gees
UK: Polygram, November 1990

01 NEW YORK MINING DISASTER 1941 (1967)
02 TO LOVE SOMEBODY (1967)
03 MASSACHUSETTS (1967)
04 WORLD (1967)
05 WORDS (1968)
06 I’VE GOTTA GET A MESSAGE TO YOU (1968)
07 FIRST OF MAY (1969)
08 DON’T FORGET TO REMEMBER (1969)
09 SAVED BY THE BELL (1969)
10 RUN TO ME (1972)
11 JIVE TALKIN’ (1975)
12 NIGHTS ON BROADWAY (1975)
13 YOU SHOULD BE DANCING (1976)
14 HOW DEEP IS YOUR LOVE (1977)
15 MORE THAN A WOMAN (1977)
16 STAYIN’ ALIVE (1977)
17 NIGHT FEVER (1977)
18 TOO MUCH HEAVEN (1978)
19 TRAGEDY (1979)
20 YOU WIN AGAIN (1987)
21 ORDINARY LIVES (1989)

A one-disk summary of Tales from the Brothers Gibb using the same improved masters was released in much of the world but not North America.