BEE GEES – Cucumber Castle

You might think it strange to see the Bee Gees in this column, but in the late 60’s they were one of our best pop-sike groups. As the 60’s merged into the 70’s the band became slightly more commercial and netted themselves a fistful of top ten singles. Their first three albums from ‘67 and ‘68 - ‘1st’, ‘Idea’, and ‘Horizontal’ - contain some of my favourite psychedelic pop, and I have often been tempted to try something from their later period. This album turned up at a recent fair, and never having seen it before I snapped it up. Released in 1970, you can hear straight away that the pop whimsy has been replaced with a more commercial edge, and indeed two of the tracks – ‘Don’t Forget To Remember’ and ‘I.O.I.O.’ – were hit singles. Robin Gibb had left the group by this time, and so his distinctive vocals are missing from these songs, but the other two brothers are more than capable of continuing that trademark hamonising on their own, and they do a very good job on filling out the sound to make up for Robin’s absence. The songwriting is generally up to their usual high standard, although to my ears the country inflections of ‘The Lord’ and ‘Sweetheart’ sound really out of place on a Bee Gees album, although even I must admit that the latter does have an infectious chorus. However, tracks such as ‘If Only I Had My Mind On Something Else’, ‘I Was The Child’, and ‘The Chance Of Love’ are as good as anything on that early trio of albums, and so it was not a total disappointment. The band were obviously going through something of a hard time when they made this album, and the mood is generally downbeat, with only ‘The Lord’ injecting any oomph to the proceedings, but then arguably the band were always at their best on the tear-jerking ballads. It is out on CD, which is by far the easier way of hearing it, as although a vinyl copy will only set you back £12 it might be years before you see one. Certainly not for fans of their disco period, and even lovers of their early work may find the odd song here not to their liking, but on the whole I am glad that I finally got around to hearing it.