1996


The Bee Gees cannot be accused of rushing the Still Waters album. Most of the songs were written in 1995, most of the recording was done here in 1996, and CDs reached the market in 1997. What a contrast with their old routines. At the start of 1996 the expected release date was August. By March the date had slipped to October, and before October it was pushed to January 1997.

The Bee Gees had the idea of working with different producers and the producers’ choice of session players. This turned Still Waters into a very lengthy project because of the need to schedule sessions with so many people in so many places. During 1996 the title was given as Irresistible Force, or Obsessions, or (mysteriously) Crusader. Barry gave the title as Still Waters in November at the Storytellers show, and that was the title that stayed.

The concept of a musical play based on Saturday Night Fever came up this year. Barry was talking about it by March. It would need more songs, either new ones or selected older songs. The brothers wrote ‘Immortality’ in 1996 and a special intro piece to ‘Tragedy’ in 1997.

The Bee Gees cooperated in the making of a documentary that was called Keppel Road. In October they visited their childhood home in Keppel Road, Chorlton, Manchester, and around that time they allowed filming of a songwriting session in Florida for a song called ‘Just in Case’ that was not released until 2001.

Lastly on November 25 the Bee Gees performed a set of songs for the VH1 television series Storytellers. The format of the show was for them to say a little about each song and then perform it in a simple arrangement. The Bee Gees had just Barry on guitar, Maurice on keyboard or guitar, and Ben Stivers on synthesizer, with Barry, Robin, and Maurice singing live at the same time. The performance was first shown on television in 1997 and later some of the songs were released on disk.


songs


WITH MY EYES CLOSED
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 1997

CLOSER THAN CLOSE
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 1997

IMMORTALITY
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
album cut by Céline Dion, 1997

JUST IN CASE
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
B side by Bee Gees, 2001


recording sessions


The notes in the booklet for Still Waters detail who plays on each track, but not where and when the recordings were made. Each track is probably a composite made at several locations, for the instrumental tracks, vocals, and any orchestral backing.

A few dates are known. The two songs produced by Arif Mardin were said to be made in October 1995 around the same time as they did ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’, and since the same personnel and engineer are listed this is probably correct (so see 1995 for those two recordings). The Bee Gees were reported working with Grammy Award Winning Producer David Foster in Los Angeles in March 1996. Crossing the country, they then recorded something with Hugh Padgham at the Hit Factory in New York on March 24 and 25, which was ‘Irresistible Force’ judging by the personnel, and only the instrumental tracks judging by Robin’s absence from the session. The only later checkpoint is an uncertain report that they had the album complete and assembled in August.


Bee Gees

Barry Gibb — vocal
Robin Gibb — vocal
Maurice Gibb — vocal; keyboard (‘I Surrender’)
David Foster — keyboard (‘I Could Not Love You More’)
Michael Thompson — guitar
Alan Kendall — guitar (‘I Surrender’)
Dean Parks — guitar (‘I Could Not Love You More’)
Gen Rubin, Doug Rasheed, Chucky Booker — programming (‘I Surrender’)
Simon Franglen — synclavier programming (‘I Could Not Love You More’)
engineer: John Merchant, Felipe Elgueta; Humberto Gattica (‘I Surrender’)
producer: David Foster; and Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb (‘I Surrender’)
March 1996, Los Angeles; probably other dates 1996

Grammy Award Winning Producer David Foster is also a musician and songwriter. At this date he had recently worked with Céline Dion, Barbra Streisand, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Mathis, and the Corrs. His records are typically a blend of traditional pop and modern dance sounds.

I SURRENDER
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1995)
undated 1996
stereo 4:18, lead vocal Barry Gibb
Still Waters, 1997

I COULD NOT LOVE YOU MORE
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1995)
undated 1996
stereo 3:43, lead vocal Barry Gibb
Still Waters, 1997; A side, June 1997

Possibly from two separate sessions, one of which was March. ‘I Surrender’ is played entirely by Maurice, Alan Kendall, and a session guitarist who is on both songs, Michael Thompson. Production is also credited to David Foster and the brothers as if they had more to do with this one. This all might mean that it contains elements of a demo played by Maurice and Alan but that is just a guess. Neither Maurice nor Alan plays on ‘I Could Not Love You More’, which has Foster himself on keyboard (a synclavier) and another guitarist.

‘I Could Not Love You More’ is a beautiful love ballad arranged here in an inappropriately over the top style. Barry sings of his lover softly sleeping but within half a minute he is shouting the chorus of the song. Whether David Foster suggested this or just allowed it, he did not serve this important song well. ‘I Surrender’ is a dance track.


Jordan Hill

Jordan Hill — vocal
Barry Gibb — vocal
Michael Thompson — guitar
Claude Gaudette — synthesizer
Gen Rubin — programming
arranged by Gen Rubin and David Foster
engineer:
producer: David Foster
March 1996, Los Angeles

TOO MUCH HEAVEN
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1978)
undated 1996
stereo, lead vocal Jordan Hill
Jordan Hill, 1996

Barry sang multiple tracks of backing vocals for this recording produced by David Foster, almost identical to his 1978 Bee Gees version.


Paul Anka

Paul Anka — vocal
Anthea Anka — vocal
Barry Gibb — vocal
Kenny G — sax
David Foster — keyboards
Dean Parks — guitar
Toledo — guitar
backup singers
arranged by David Foster
engineer: Humberto Gattica
producer: Humberto Gatica and David Foster
March 1996, Los Angeles

YO TE AMO / DO I LOVE YOU (YES IN EVERY WAY)
Yves Dessca, Maxine Piolot, Alain Chamfort [Alain Le Govic], Michel Pilay (1971);
Paul Anka (English, 1971); Alejandro Lerner (Spanish)
undated 1996
stereo (Spanish and English) 4:40, lead vocal Anthea Anka, Paul Anka
Amigos, 1996
stereo (English) 4:42, lead vocal Anthea Anka, Paul Anka
A Body of Work, 1998

Barry recorded falsetto backing vocals for another David Foster production. An earlier recording of ‘Do I Love You (Yes in Every Way)’ was a single for Paul Anka in 1971. The song was written in French, and Anka provided an English lyric for his version, which was not a hit. Here Anka recorded it again in a similar arrangement but as a duet with his daughter Anthea, who sings lead in the first of two verses. The mix released in 1996 is bilingual, Anthea singing in Spanish and Paul in English, while another mix released in 1998 is all in English.


Bee Gees

Barry Gibb — vocal; programming (‘Irresistible Force’)
Robin Gibb — vocal
Maurice Gibb — vocal, keyboard
Robbie Kondor — keyboard
Waddy Wachtel — guitar
Carlos Alomar — guitar
Pino Palladino — bass
Steve Jordan — drums
engineer: John Merchant, Hugh Padgham; Glen Marchese
producer: Hugh Padgham
March 1996, The Hit Factory, New York; other dates, 1996

Hugh Padgham was an engineer by background who worked mostly in the English art rock scene, notably with Genesis and Phil Collins, and the Police and Sting. He is very highly regarded in the business and by the artists he has worked with.

IRRESISTIBLE FORCE
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1995)
undated 1996
stereo 4:36, lead vocal Robin Gibb, Barry Gibb
Still Waters, 1997

MIRACLES HAPPEN
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1994)
undated 1996
stereo 4:12, lead vocal Barry Gibb
Still Waters, 1997

‘Irresistible Force’ was one of the highlights of the album with its guitar and synth rock sound and a good vocal by Robin. On keyboards Maurice worked again with Robbie Kondor (E S P), and guitars were handled by top players Waddie Wachtel (hundreds of sessions) and Carlos Alomar (David Bowie and others). Bass was by Welsh session player Pino Palladino and drums by Steve Jordan of the World’s Most Dangerous Band (Late Night with David Letterman). The lyrics have some Beatlesque flavor (‘all things must pass’) and so does the arrangement. How much of this is owed to Hugh Padgham is unknown but it certainly fits in with the music he produced.

‘Miracles Happen’ was a re-make of a song they recorded in 1994 but did not release. The Florida’s Singing Sons Boys Choir are possibly the same group who were on that version. The song has a long winding Barry melody (a little longer this time around than in 1994) and inspiring lyrics, both obscured by overproduction not typical of Padgham. Perhaps a simpler arrangement might have been in order.


Bee Gees

Barry Gibb — vocal; guitar (‘Alone’); programming (‘Alone’, ‘Smoke and Mirrors’)
Robin Gibb — vocal
Maurice Gibb — vocal; guitar (‘Alone’); keyboard (‘Alone’, ‘Smoke and Mirrors’)
Robbie Kondor — keyboard (‘Alone’, ‘My Lover’s Prayer’); synthesizer (‘Smoke and Mirrors’);
  programming (‘My Lover’s Prayer’)
Jeff Bova — synthesizer bass (‘Alone’, ‘Smoke and Mirrors’); keyboard (‘Smoke and Mirrors’)
Alan Clark — keyboard (‘Alone’)
Rob Mounsey — keyboard (‘My Lover’s Prayer’)
Marc Schulman — guitar ‘Alone’, ‘My Lover’s Prayer’)
George Perry — bass (‘Smoke and Mirrors’)
Anthony Jackson — bass (‘My Lover’s Prayer’)
Jimmy Bralower — programming, percussion
Dave Halpern — percussion (‘Alone’)
Ralph McDonald — percussion (‘Alone’)
David Elliott — drums (‘Alone’)
Russ Titelman — programming (‘Smoke and Mirrors’);
arranged by Russ Titelman, Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb (‘Smoke and Mirrors’)
arranged by Robbie Kondor, Russ Titelman (‘My Lover’s Prayer’)
strings arranged by Arif Mardin (‘My Lover’s Prayer’)
engineer: John Merchant, Dave O’Donnell; Jason Goldstein (‘Alone’);
  Steve Eigner, Mike Viola (‘Smoke and Mirrors’, ‘My Lover’s Prayer’)
producer: Russ Titelman; Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb (‘Alone’, ‘Smoke and Mirrors’)
1996

Russ Titelman is a producer and songwriter who had produced George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Chaka Khan.

ALONE
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1995)
undated 1996
stereo 4:23, lead vocal Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb
A side, February 1997; Still Waters, 1997
stereo (single mix) 4:23, lead vocal Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb
A side, May 1997

SMOKE AND MIRRORS
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1995)
undated 1996
stereo 5:00, lead vocal Robin Gibb, Barry Gibb
Still Waters, 1997

MY LOVER’S PRAYER
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1995)
undated 1996
stereo 4:00, lead vocal Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb
Still Waters, 1997

Possibly more than one session, since some musicians are on only one song. But Robbie Kondor (also on the Hugh Padgham sessions, above) and Jimmy Bralower are on all three, and Jeff Bova (synthesizer) and Marc Schulman (guitar) are on two different pairs. The two songs with Barry and Maurice playing guitar or keyboard are shown as produced by Russ Titelman and Barry, Maurice, and Robin, and the third song (‘My Lover’s Prayer’) is shown as produced by Russ Titelman only.

‘Alone’ is dominated by rhythm guitars and by Maurice’s synthesizer setting that sounds like bagpipes. This foundation was credited to the Bee Gees and the rest follows along. It was good song to play live and although it was not typical of the album it was made the lead single and first cut on the album itself.

‘Smoke and Mirrors’ is an ambitious composition put together from different melodic parts. There’s an existentialist bent to it: the golden summers of childhood (which the Gibb brothers did not really experience), the idea of being safe from harm, and how it fades away. It is immediately reminiscent of vintage Robin songs, but Barry has also written on such themes. The arrangement may be a little awkward, but the feel of the song is a little awkward, something like the classic Robin songs that struggle to speak their mind, so it works very nicely. Certainly smoother overproduction would have been out of place on this piece.

‘My Lover’s Prayer’ is intended to be a smooth soul ballad, and that’s just how it plays. It is beautifully done. Barry sings a fine lead that could have been shared more than it is with Robin, and Robin did record it again later on in 2003.

Overall the three Titelman tracks work well and sound like classic Bee Gees tracks. But how much of this is just a matter of re-creating the demo versions?


Bee Gees

Barry Gibb — vocal
Robin Gibb — vocal
Maurice Gibb — vocal
others unknown
engineer: John Merchant, others
producer: Attrel Cordes and Jarett Cordes
1996

FIRE WITH FIRE
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1995)
undated 1996
stereo, lead vocal unknown
unreleased

STILL WATERS RUN DEEP
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1995)
undated 1996
stereo, lead vocal unknown
unreleased

Two songs recorded with the duo P M Dawn, Attrel Cordes and Jarett Cordes, were not used. ‘Fire with Fire’ was dropped, but ‘Still Waters’ was re-made with Hugh Padgham.


Bee Gees

Barry Gibb — vocal
Robin Gibb — vocal
Maurice Gibb — vocal
Raphael Saadiq — programming, bass, guitar, vocal
Kelvin Wooten — keyboard
Spanky Alford — guitar
Carl Verheyn — guitar
engineer: Darrin Harris, Gerry Brown, Bill Malina, John Merchant
producer: Raphael Saadiq
1996

WITH MY EYES CLOSED
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1996)
undated 1996
stereo 4:19, lead vocal Barry Gibb
Still Waters, 1997

Raphael Saadiq, formerly of Tony! Toni! Toné!, produced an excellent version of ‘With My Eyes Closed’, a new song from 1996. Barry sings the lead vocal with a great backing vocal by Robin on the choruses. Some recordings on the Still Waters album are guilty of excess but this one is just perfectly right for the song.


Bee Gees

Barry Gibb — vocal, guitar
Robin Gibb — vocal
Maurice Gibb — vocal, keyboard, guitar
Mike McAvoy — keyboard, guitar
Alan Kendall — guitar
Pino Palladino — bass
Manu Katche — drums
engineer: John Merchant, Hugh Padgham; Jason Geek
producer: Hugh Padgham
1996

STILL WATERS RUN DEEP
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1995)
undated 1996
stereo 4:08, lead vocal Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb
Still Waters, 1997
stereo remix 4:08, lead vocal Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb
A side, October 1997

‘Still Waters Run Deep’ was re-made with Hugh Padgham after the version produced by P M Dawn was scrapped. Conclusive evidence is lacking, but this appears to be a separate session from the other two songs produced by Hugh Padgham. Pino Palladino is back, but the keyboard, guitar, and drums are different players.

The demo of ‘Still Waters Run Deep’ was released as a B side and it is almost identical to this completed recording. If this was typical of the other songs, all the time and trouble spent using big-name producers was almost useless. Some of them actually commented on how little they needed to do, since Barry had already worked out everything ahead of time.


Bee Gees

Maurice Gibb — vocal, keyboard
Barry Gibb — vocal
Peter-John Vettese — keyboard, programming
Alan Kendall — guitar
engineer: John Merchant
producer: Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb
about July 1996, Middle Ear, Miami Beach

CLOSER THAN CLOSE
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1996)
undated 1996
stereo 4:34, lead vocal Maurice Gibb, Barry Gibb
B side, February 1997; Still Waters, 1997

The last song recorded for Still Waters was the obligatory Maurice lead vocal, actually sung by Maurice and Barry together. Maurice’s desire to stay in the background seems to have led to him running his own session for this song, without any outside producer.

This completed recording for Still Waters.


Bee Gees

Barry Gibb — vocal, guitar
Robin Gibb — vocal
Maurice Gibb — vocal, keyboard
Alan Kendall — guitar
Ben Stivers — keyboard
Matt Bonelli — bass
Steve Rucker — drums
engineer: John Merchant
producer: Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb
about October 1996, Middle Ear, Miami Beach

IMMORTALITY
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1996)
undated 1996
stereo 4:15, lead vocal Barry Gibb
The Record, 2001

This demo of ‘Immortality’ for Céline Dion was released in 2001 on The Record. Barry sings it in falsetto to be in Céline’s range. ‘Immortality’ was first mentioned in November 1996 as a new song written for the stage musical of Saturday Night Fever.


Bee Gees

Barry Gibb — vocal, guitar
Robin Gibb — vocal
Maurice Gibb — vocal, keyboard
Alan Kendall — guitar
Ben Stivers — keyboard
Matt Bonelli — bass
Steve Rucker — drums
engineer: Brian Tench, John Merchant
producer: Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
November 1996, Middle Ear, Miami Beach

STAYIN’ ALIVE
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1977)
undated 1996
stereo 4:06, lead vocal Barry Gibb
B side, May 1997

‘Stayin’ Alive (1996)’ is a band rehearsal, deliberately taken slow, and film of it was considered but not used for the television documentary Keppel Road (1997). This band would play the One Night Only concerts in 1997. They also played on the ‘Immortality’ demo.


selected record releases


Jordan Hill
US: M143 Records, June 1996

  TOO MUCH HEAVEN

Barry sings backing vocals on this David Foster production.


Paul Anka : Amigos
US: Sony International, July 1996

  YO TE AMO / DO I LOVE YOU (YES IN EVERY WAY)

This is the Spanish and English version. Barry sings backing vocals. The concept of Amigos was to record new versions of some of Paul Anka’s songs as duets with guest singers with vocals in Spanish and English.


Soul of the Bee Gees
US: The Right Stuff, 1996

01 Al Green : HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART (1972)
02 Rufus featuring Chaka Khan : JIVE TALKIN’ (1975)
03 Candi Staton : NIGHTS ON BROADWAY (1977)
04 Portrait : HOW DEEP IS YOUR LOVE (1995)
05 Dionne Warwick HEARTBREAKER (1982)
06 Percy Sledge : I’VE GOTTA GET A MESSAGE TO YOU (1975)
07 The Staple Singers : GIVE A HAND, TAKE A HAND (1971)
08 Richie Havens : I STARTED A JOKE (1969)
09 Nina Simone : PLEASE READ ME (1968)
10 Jerry Butler and Thelma Houston : LOVE SO RIGHT (1977)
11 Yvonne Elliman : IF I CAN’T HAVE YOU (1977)
12 Tavares : MORE THAN A WOMAN (1977)
13 Samantha Sang: EMOTION (1977)
14 Robin Gibb : TOYS (1985)

A collection of previously released versions of Gibb brothers songs, mostly by black American artists. Barry appears on Dionne Warwick’s ‘Heartbreaker’ and Samantha Sang’s ‘Emotion’, and all three brothers are on Robin’s own version of ‘Toys’. Candi Staton’s ‘Nights on Broadway’ was top ten in Britain, and Al Green’s ‘How Can You Mend a Broken Heart’ was a soul chart hit. Some of these are much less well known.