1999


The Bee Gees did two last One Night Only shows in New Zealand and Australia in March 1999. Following this they gathered in Florida to write songs for a new album. By June they reported having eighteen new songs, more than ever appeared.

Following the writing sessions, the brothers then went off and recorded songs separately starting in June. Barry and Maurice both used Middle Ear while Robin recorded in London. This development was kept secret at the time and was explained away later. But by October rumor had it that the Bee Gees were done as a unit and that their last contractually obligated album would consist of four tracks recorded by each brother. This was heatedly denied. At any rate some of the solo tracks made it through the album.

Robin returned to Florida in September, and the three were reported at Middle Ear during the next few weeks. At least one activity would have been reviewing the recordings they had made separately. They attended ceremonies in New York together in October for Isle of Man stamps issued in their honor and for the New York premiere of the Saturday Night Fever musical play. But there was not much time for recording. Robin was back in England during November, where he sang a stunning version of the traditional Christmas song ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ for television. On his return to Florida in December the Bee Gees had another concert to prepare.

The Bee Gees gave one last One Night Only show in Florida on December 31 to usher in the last year of the twentieth century.


songs


I WILL BE THERE
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
album cut by Tina Turner, 1999; B side by Bee Gees, 2001. US copyright September 1999

TECHNICOLOR DREAMS
Barry Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 2001

DÉJÀ VU
Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Barry Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 2001

PROMISE THE EARTH
Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Barry Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 2001

LOOSE TALK COSTS LIVES
Barry Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 2001

VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS
Barry Gibb, Ben Stivers, Steve Rucker, Alan Kendall, Matt Bonelli
album cut by Bee Gees, 2001

WALKING ON AIR
Maurice Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 2001

THE BRIDGE
Maurice Gibb, Samantha Gibb, Adam Gibb
no record

MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Maurice Gibb, Barry Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 2001

EMBRACE
Robin Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 2001

LOVERS AND FRIENDS
Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Ronan Keating
album cut by Bee Gees and Ronan Keating, 2005

WEDDING DAY
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
album cut by Bee Gees, 2001


recording sessions


Bee Gees

Barry Gibb — vocal, guitar
Robin Gibb — vocal
Maurice Gibb — vocal, keyboards, programming
engineer: John Merchant; Ashley Gibb
producer: Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb
probably second quarter 1999, Middle Ear, Miami Beach

I WILL BE THERE
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1999)
undated 1999
stereo 4:06, lead vocal Robin Gibb, Barry Gibb
B side, March 2001

‘I Will Be There’ is a demo that was recorded during the April to June songwriting sessions (unless it is from the sessions from the first half of 1998). It was sent to Tina Turner, accidentally they said later, and she recorded the song for her album Twenty Four Seven that came out in November 1999.

The Maurice Gibb backing track has the same sound as his Angel of Mercy (see below), and Barry and Robin trade lead vocals. The lyrics about supporting each other make it particularly apt for this last Bee Gees album, but it was used only as a B side.


Luna Park

Samantha Gibb — vocal
Adam Gibb — keyboard, vocal
Laz Rodriguez — guitar
Maurice Gibb — possibly keyboard, bass, programming
engineer: John Merchant
producer: Maurice Gibb
first half 1999, Middle Ear, Miami Beach

TOMORROW
Samantha Gibb, Adam Gibb, Laz Rodriguez (1999)
undated 1999
stereo 2:55, lead vocal Samantha Gibb
Luna Park, 2008

ONE BY ONE
Samantha Gibb, Adam Gibb, Laz Rodriguez (1999)
undated 1999
stereo 3:28, lead vocal Samantha Gibb
Luna Park, 2008

TAKE A DEEP BREATH
Samantha Gibb, Adam Gibb, Laz Rodriguez (1999)
undated 1999
stereo 4:40, lead vocal Samantha Gibb
Luna Park, 2008

Maurice produced a few more songs for Luna Park in 1999. ‘Tomorrow’ and ‘One by One’ were copyright in June, so they come before Maurice’s own recordings for the Bee Gees. ‘Take a Deep Breath’ was copyright in September so it might date from the summer. (Copyright of course can come any length of time after recording.)

All three of these songs were issued on the Luna Park download album in 2008.


Barry Gibb

Barry Gibb — vocal, guitar
Robin Gibb — vocal (‘Technicolor Dreams’, ‘Voice in the Wilderness’)
Maurice Gibb — vocal (‘Technicolor Dreams’, ‘Voice in the Wilderness’); guitar (‘Loose Talk Costs Lives’)
Ben Stivers — piano, keyboard, synthesizer, programming, organ
Alan Kendall — guitar
Matt Bonelli — bass
Steve Rucker — drums
Neil Bonsanti — clarinet (‘Technicolor Dreams’)
George Perry — bass (‘Loose Talk Costs Lives’)
engineer: John Merchant; Ashley Gibb, Geraldine Dubernet
producer: Barry Gibb
mostly third quarter 1999, Middle Ear, Miami Beach

TECHNICOLOR DREAMS
Barry Gibb (1999)
undated 1999, 2000
stereo 3:05, lead vocal Barry Gibb
This Is Where I Came In, 2001

LOOSE TALK COSTS LIVES
Barry Gibb (1999)
undated 1999
stereo 4:19, lead vocal Barry Gibb
This Is Where I Came In, 2001

VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS
Barry Gibb, Ben Stivers, Steve Rucker, Alan Kendall, Matt Bonelli
undated 1999, 2000
stereo (first mix) 4:37, lead vocal Barry Gibb
unreleased
stereo 4:37, lead vocal Barry Gibb
This Is Where I Came In, 2001

Barry’s solo songs come the closest to being Bee Gees tracks, with Maurice on all three and Robin on two. However in all three cases the Robin and Maurice contributions may be late additions. The basic tracks for all three are by Barry, Alan Kendall, Ben Stivers, Matt Bonelli, and Steve Rucker, with Barry on vocals. The songs are very different from each other in style.

‘Technicolor Dreams’ was nearly all done during the solo period. The credited vocal by Robin and Maurice was probably added later in 1999 and is barely noticeable. Since it was intended to be the title song Barry wanted all three to be on it even though it was written only by Barry. ‘Technicolor Dreams’ is a period piece that Barry likened to a Noel Coward song. The quietly spoken ‘kiss my arse’ intro was added in October 2000 as a comment on Polygram’s insistence that Bee Gees records needed to be suitable for family listening.

The light jazz ‘Loose Talk Costs Lives’ seems to have been altered after its initial recording with the addition of guitar by Maurice and bass by Chocolate Perry, either late in 1999 or in 2000.

‘Voice in the Wilderness’ is a great rocking track that suffered from dynamic range problems on the album as released. The music is credited to the whole band, indicating that it originated in a jam session. Barry would have then added lyrics and vocals. The first mix made for release was scrapped when backing vocals by Robin and Maurice were added in October 2000.


Maurice Gibb

Maurice Gibb — vocal, keyboard, synthesizer, guitar, programming
Samantha Gibb — vocal (‘The Bridge’, ‘Angel of Mercy’)
Adam Gibb — vocal (‘The Bridge’)
John Merchant — programming
engineer: John Merchant; Geraldine Dubernet
producer: Maurice Gibb
mostly third quarter 1999, Middle Ear, Miami Beach

WALKING ON AIR
Maurice Gibb (1999)
undated 1999
stereo 4:05, lead vocal Maurice Gibb
This Is Where I Came In, 2001

THE BRIDGE
Maurice Gibb, Samantha Gibb, Adam Gibb (1999)
undated 1999
stereo 4:31, lead vocal Maurice Gibb, Samantha Gibb, Adam Gibb
unreleased

MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Maurice Gibb, Barry Gibb (1999)
undated 1999
stereo 4:21, lead vocal Maurice Gibb
This Is Where I Came In, 2001

ANGEL OF MERCY
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1995)
undated 1999
stereo 4:31, lead vocal Maurice Gibb, Samantha Gibb
unreleased

Maurice recorded four tracks. The two entirely by himself were put on the album, while the two with vocals by him and Samantha were set aside.

‘Walking on Air’ and ‘Man in the Middle’ are similar in style and arrangement. The programmed beats and overdubbed instruments come off as a little mechanical, and the many layers of vocal track do not offset it. Maurice had successfully done tracks all by himself before, but these do not have the homemade sound those did. He sounds afraid to expose his voice. On the album both tracks suffer the effects of the ‘loudness wars’ craze in CD engineering. Maurice often mixed his tracks quiet, but someone has boosted the volume causing excessive clipping and distortion that makes the sound harsh.

The idea of Maurice as the ‘man in the middle’ of the Bee Gees helped popularize the song by that title, but it is actually about a man letting people down and telling lies. Lyrically it is the follow-up to ‘The Bridge’, written by Maurice and both his children about their reconciliation after Maurice took control of his alcoholism. Sung mainly by Maurice, ‘The Bridge’ has one verse sung beautifully by Samantha and another managed with overdubs by non-singer Adam. Here Maurice’s voice is less distorted, and this and the unusually personal subject matter make a moving song that should have been released.

Possibly done at this time, or at some other date in 1999 or 2000, is yet another version of the unreleased 1995 song ‘Angel of Mercy’ sung about equally by Maurice and Samantha. To what end is unknown, since it fits in with neither his band nor hers. But they sound achingly wonderful together. It is sad that there can be no more of these. This is surely the definitive version of the song.


Robin Gibb

Robin Gibb — vocal
Peter-John Vettese — keyboard, synthesizer, programming, vocal
Mark Evans — programming
Robbie Mackintosh — guitar (‘Déjà Vu’)
Roger Lyons — programming
engineer: Mark ‘Tuffy’ Evans
producer: Robin Gibb, Peter-John Vettese
mostly third quarter 1999, Area 21, London

SENSUALITY
Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Barry Gibb (1998)
undated 1999
stereo 5:19, lead vocal Robin Gibb
unreleased

DÉJÀ VU
Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Barry Gibb (1999)
undated 1999
stereo 4:17, lead vocal Robin Gibb
This Is Where I Came In, 2001

PROMISE THE EARTH
Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Barry Gibb (1999)
undated 1999
stereo 4:29, lead vocal Robin Gibb
This Is Where I Came In, 2001

EMBRACE
Robin Gibb (1999)
undated 1999
stereo 4:43, lead vocal Robin Gibb
This Is Where I Came In, 2001

Robin recorded four songs in England with Peter-John Vettese. Three of them were written before the solo break with Barry and Maurice including ‘Sensuality’ from 1998, which probably fell afoul of Polygram’s family listening rule for Bee Gees tunes and was not released. Robin wrote one by himself for the first time since 1972.

These Europop productions were hailed by Bee Gees fans as Robin’s best work in many years and the logical followup to ‘Fallen Angel’ (1993). Robin sings lead and backup vocals with Peter-John Vettese handling most of the rest including some additional backing vocals. Robin’s voice is loud and strong and he hits the emotional moments perfectly.

The powerful ‘Déjà Vu’ was on many fans’ wish lists for second single, although as a solo recording it was probably never a possible candidate. ‘Embrace’ has especially good lyrics about lovers separated and would work well even with an acoustic arrangement. ‘Promise the Earth’ was relegated to album bonus track but it is as strong as the other two.


Bee Gees

Barry Gibb — vocal, guitar
Robin Gibb — vocal
Maurice Gibb — vocal, guitar, keyboard
Ben Stivers — keyboard, programming
Alan Kendall — guitar
Matt Bonelli — bass
Steve Rucker — drums
engineer: John Merchant; Ashley Gibb
producer: Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb
about October 1999, Middle Ear, Miami Beach

WEDDING DAY
Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (1999)
undated 1999
stereo 4:44, lead vocal Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb
This Is Where I Came In, 2001

‘Wedding Day’ has the same band lineup as Barry’s solo songs and the concert on New Year’s Eve, with Ben Stivers and Matt Bonelli. It was probably recorded when the three brothers were together in October 1999. It would become one of the songs proposed as a single by them and the record company, but after the fresher sound of the solo songs it is a real throwback in style. Did they have to compromise on this safe style to work together?

(Or was this Barry’s fourth song, under the rumored plan for four songs by each brother? If so it had more extensive re-recording than the others to bring in Robin as co-lead vocal and Maurice on instrumental parts. The main argument against is the sound of the song itself.)


Ronan Keating

Ronan Keating — vocal
Barry Gibb — vocal
Maurice Gibb — vocal, guitar, keyboard
Alan Kendall — guitar
Ben Stivers — programming
Matt Bonelli — bass
Steve Rucker — drums
engineer: John Merchant; Ashley Gibb
producer: Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb
November 1999, Middle Ear, Miami Beach

LOVERS AND FRIENDS
Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Ronan Keating (1999)
about November 1999
stereo 5:17, lead vocal Ronan Keating
Love Songs, 2005

After five years in the English boy band Boyzone, Ronan Keating was recording his first solo album in 1999. He wrote ‘Lovers and Friends’ with Barry and Maurice in August, and returned to record it with them in November. Robin was not involved at either time.

The song was expected to appear on his Ronan album (July 2000). Ronan mentioned recording with Barry and Maurice in interviews to within weeks of release date, and he thanks them in the CD booklet, but the song itself was missing. The last minute change of lineup was never explained. This recording with Ronan on lead vocal was finally released in 2005 on the Bee Gees album Love Songs, the only title included that was not a Bee Gees record.


selected record releases


Bee Gees : single
Isle of Man: Ellan Vannin Post, October 1999

  ELLAN VANNIN

The second issue of the 1998 recording ‘Ellan Vannin’ was in a stamp set issued by Ellan Vannin Post, the postal service for the Isle of Man. The set contained the Isle’s stamps honoring the Bee Gees and a CD with the song. As with the previous Children in Need issue the CD contained just the one song.


Tina : Twenty Four Seven
UK: November 1999; US: February 2000

  I WILL BE THERE

The first release of the song ‘I Will Be There’. The Bee Gees are not on the recording.


Mulberry Lane : single
US: Refuge/MCA, 1999

A HARMLESS
2 sneak preview

The first major-label single by Mulberry Lane bore a striking resemblance to ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’. The melody in the first part of the two-part verse and in the chorus is just about identical. ‘Harmless’ is credited to Allison Rizzuto, Jaymie Rizzuto, Rachel Rizzuto, and Heather Rizzuto for words and music and also Leland Mickles for music only. Since ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ was not a hit record in the United States, it is not immediately obvious how one of the five heard it.

Mulberry Lane are four sisters from Nebraska whose indie-label first album in 1998 got them a record deal with Refuge/MCA. Their beautiful harmony singing took ‘Harmless’ to number 25 in the US. It is also on their album Run Your Own Race.