Idea

The Bee Gees

Polydor, 1968

http://beegees.com

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/30/2008

For the best music that the Bee Gees had to offer, you have to go all the way back to 1968, when they were still a quintet comprising the three Gibb Brothers and Australian friends Vince Melouney and Colin Peterson. Produced by the ever-present Robert Stigwood, their third release Idea is also a great example of how acoustic-based pop hooks are supposed to sound. This album spawned the hit singles “I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You” and “I Started A Joke,” and the eventual CD edition even contains a bonus track entitled “Such A Shame,” which features a terrific harmonica solo.

The title track is another standout for the sole reason that it is the most psychedelic and overtly sixties song the Bee Gees have ever recorded. There is a lot of other catchy material to be found on Idea, from the finger-snapping ditty “Kitty Can” (which is a helluva lot of fun to sing along to), to the military recruiter’s dream song “I Have Decided To Join The Air Force.” Even better is “Indian Gin And Whiskey Dry,” a deceptively simple drinking song made all the stronger with its soaring vocals.nbtc__dv_250

If lush strings are your thing, there are plenty of sweeping epic ballads to satisfy your romantic urges. The album starts off with the best of the lot, “Let There Be Love.”  I particularly admire the dense melody and tone of this song, which serves as a kind of flower child anthem, one that is all about peace and love. Certainly, with the current Iraq war threatening to last as long as Vietnam did, we could use a song just like it these days. 

Robin Gibb is the designated balladeer on Idea, supplying his quivering, distinctive voice to the lackluster “In The Summer Of His Years” and the deadly serious “Down To Earth.” While Robin is bemoaning his loneliness to anyone who will listen, Barry fleshes out other slow songs like the elegant “Kilburn Towers” and the bittersweet closer, “Swan Song.” Barry’s tracks here are noticeably stronger than Robin’s, mainly because they aren’t as languid or depressing. In addition, Barry hadn’t yet discovered that falsetto of his that he made ample use of in the decades to follow.

Once the sixties were over, so were the music careers of the two non-Gibbs, Vince Melouney and Colin Peterson. Melouney left the Bee Gees voluntarily after the completion of Idea, while Peterson was summarily fired the following year. Then without any warning, Robin left the group as well, leaving Barry and Maurice alone to record the disappointing Cucumber Castle. As a result of all the inner turmoil, many lawsuits would be filed and the Bee Gees future was left hanging in the balance. Had Robin decided not to return to the fold, there probably wouldn’t have been any more Bee Gees. Then there would have been no Saturday Night Fever or Spirits Having Flown, two albums that made the seventies -- and the Bee Gees -- so memorable.

Rating: A

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© 2008 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Polydor, and is used for informational purposes only.