Bee Gees - Odessa

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

1969 saw the Bee Gees stretching themselves creatively, delivering their magnum opus, Odessa. The band’s 4th International record and 6th overall, it remains my favorite Bee Gees record. This also happened to be the band’s only double LP and was a concept album of sorts. Most people know the Bee Gees from their mid to late 70’s commercial peak period (DISCO) – and while I do confess to loving those songs, my heart resides firmly with the band’s output from 1966 to 1969. The Gibb brothers were barely in their 20’s (Robin Gibb was 19 when Odessa was released), but carried an aura of world-weariness that gave the music depth. In those early years it wasn’t Barry Gibb’s famous falsetto that carried the tunes – vocals were split pretty evenly among Barry and Robin, with Maurice helping out occasionally. Barry’s songs veered towards Beatles pop and country, whilst Robin’s….well, Robin’s are hard to describe. Vocals that seem not of this earth, quivering, emotive – a precursor to Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons. Black Diamond is one of my favorite tunes from this era – music that recalls other 60’s bands, but elevated to another level by Robin’s otherworldly vocals. The song starts out on a deceptively simple note – pop music imbued with warmth. It’s a nice trick – within a minute the song absolutely crushes you with emotion as Robin sings “And I’m leaving in the morning / And I won’t die, so don’t cry. I’ll be home / Those big black diamonds that lie there for me / By the tall white mountains which lie by the sea”. The song fades out on a refrain that sounds inspired by The Beatles “Oh oh oh oh oh / Say goodbye to Auld Lang Syne”. This song is just one of the many masterpieces by the Bee Gees in the 60’s. I also recommend hunting down Robin Gibb’s albums from 1970 – Robin’s Reign  and Sing Slowly Sisters (this one was never released, but can be found on bootleg. It is my favorite Robin Gibb record).

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