Review Summary: Before the hits and the falsettos there were The Bee Gees
We like it or not, the Bee Gees were one of the biggest bands in pop history thanks to their many disco singles in the seventies; albums like Saturday Night Fever's soundtrack are filled with cheesy, yet ultra catchy classics, but it is that success the one that overshadows their earlier work in the sixties and the fact is, that many people will laugh when you tell them that they used to be as important in the psychedelic pop scene as bands like The Zombies or The Beach Boys.
"1st" was the first album by the band released worldwide and even if it has some flaws is still an essential record for every psych pop fan.
So, how do you describe the band's original sound?, well, just saying they were a psych pop band will only give a glimpse of what they had to offer, the truth is they just weren't as talented instrumentally speaking as bands like Love and their songwriting wasn't as good as Brian Wilson's but there were some aspects in their style in which they were the kings, the most important of them?: The vocal harmonies
During this era Barry's voice was way more than just ultra-high pitched falsettos, the sound he created combined with his siblings's voices was just perfect. In 1st we can see a band full of life with happy and catchy songs like Red Chair, Fade Away
, or calm ballads like the beautiful Holiday
, they created a palette full of different atmospheres in here without a single note being out of place, the harmonies aren't exaggerated like in most of their seventies albums, they're warm, happy when needed or melancholic when they're supposed to, but always, always extremly catchy. Probably the best two examples of what they were capable of are To Love Somebody
and New York Mining Disaster
, the first one is one of the band's classic songs and shows what a powerful voice Barry really had, probably the best in the genre, while the second one is the first glance of what would be the band's most important contribution to the psych pop era: A sadder, more tragic side of the genre that would later lead Chris White to write the classic that Butcher's Tale
became in Odessey and Oracle
, and that would evolve into the own Bee Gees's sound in what would become, not the best, but by far one of the most innovative albums in the genre: Odessa
The band's international debut isn't a perfect album, the instrumentation while still superb is extremly influenced by the one bands like The Beach Boys showed in their album Pet Sounds
with many baroque accompaniments and the lyrics aren't something out of this world even if a couple of songs in here show some incredible songwriting (the band would latter change this in Odessa) but still manages to stand on its own among many pop classics; many of the songs in here are actually timeless tunes that deserve as much praise as other band's hits of the time.
The Bee Gees would continue with their psychedelic style for a few more years, releasing their three other fundamental albums: Horizontal, Idea and Odessa before their decline and, with some time, their revival as a Disco band, full of classic hits but with very inconsistent albums.
In 1967 the Bee Gees were:
Barry Gibb - Lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Robin Gibb - Lead vocals, organ
Maurice Gibb - Backing vocals, bass guitar, piano
Vince Melouney - Lead guitar
Collin Petersen - Drums