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I bought The Bee Gees’ 1st a few months back because I love Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You with a real passion.  One of the finest songs ever written, if you ask me.  Not asking?  Of course you are.  Anyhoo, I first heard that song about 10 years ago and thought “there’s no way that’s the Bee Gees”.  It’s incredible.  It led to me check out their early stuff and, as you can probably guess, I liked what I heard.  See, before the mega-popular disco shenanigans, the Bee Gees made some fairly splendid records (granted, some may consider the disco stuff to be fairly splendid, but the older records are splendid-er).

Although not their first, The Bee Gees’ 1st is their first international release (they had released Bee Gees Sing And Play 14 Barry Gibb Songs in Australia in 1965 and scored a hit with Spicks And Specks the following year).  Like I say, there’s nothing to throw shapes at; it’s all dreamy psychedelic poppery here.  Think Everly Brothers, Hollies, and that obscure band from Liverpool that called themselves The Beatles or something.  Now sprinkle on some 13th Floor Elevators, The Beach Boys, Love, and Walker Brothers.  It really is marvellous stuff; overflowing with beautiful melodies, harmonies, swelling strings, and, well, just an overall loveliness.

And, did I mention Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You is one of the greatest songs ever written?  No, well, Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You is one of the greatest songs ever written. Fact.

Most folks will know the overflowing loveliness of To Love Somebody (which, according to my sources, was written for Otis Reading, but he never got the chance to record it), but the rest of the album is seriously stellar.  The psychedelic pop rhythm shenanigans no better illustrated than on Red Chair, Fade Away.  Seriously, that one plays like yon Beatles lot channeling Love (with heavy hints of Strawberry Fields Forever).

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As well as having loads of nice kooky moments, brilliant vocal melodies and a bunch of nice rhythms, there’s also some lush string arrangements in there too.  Sure, some of it might sound like it’s trying to tug at the heartstrings a wee bit too much, but it often shimmers and adds a rather sparkling effect when you listen with the sun splashing through the window (though admittedly the blinds are down and it’s, eh, dark out – but you get the drift, right?).  Then there’s the melancholic beauty of the likes of New York Mining Disaster 1941, I Can’t See Nobody, and the tremendousness of Holiday.

Red Chair, Fade Away is a psychedelic masterpiece.  Seriously – one of the absolute best tracks you’ll ever hear.  It’s got some great vocals and mellotron (I love mellotron – the musical Transformer. Or the Transformer fruit, right?).  It also signals a pretty stellar run, with the ‘blue eyed soul’ of One Minute Woman, the Beatles-esque In My Own Time, and the truly wonderously splendiferous Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You.  Seriously good stuff.  Did I mention that one is one of the greatest songs ever written?  etc etc.

There’s a lot of great stuff on Side B.  New York Mining Disaster 1941 is full of melancholy and the beat and rhythms are spot on … everything just moving with an understated beauty.  Vocally? Woah. Tremendous.  There’s not much else to say about To Love Somebody, but I Close My Eyes is all technicolor splendour and I Can’t See Nobody is as good as sad blue eyed soul jams get.  Cucumber Castle isn’t quite as bonkers good as the title would have you hope, but Please Read Me is pretty spectacular.  A loose groove and a chorus that Lennon and McCartney would have killed for.  Seriously.

The Bees Gees’ 1st is definitely a winner.  An album as wonderful as that Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s, and as psychedelically splendiferous as Disraeli Gears and The Doors.  Just a shame that it isn’t remembered as fondly.  Or at all (probably fondly by those who dug it, though).   Timeless.

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… and the cover is by that man Klaus Voormann.  Responsible for Revolver and Harry Nilsson’s Knnillssonn.

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31 thoughts on ““Don’t go talking too loud, you’ll cause a landslide, Mr. Jones” – The Bee Gees’ 1st (1967)

  1. I grew up with a greatest hits collection of the early Bee Gees stuff and I still love it. Can’t stand Staying Alive, but I love Holiday and To Love Somebody.

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    1. To Love Somebody is utterly magnificent, eh? I’m a sucker for that song …

      More folks should be alerted to the awesome early Bee Gees stuff.

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    1. Pre-disco Bee Gees is where it’s at … definitely worth checking out. The vocals aren’t as overwhelming and it’s all a bit more textured. Really marvellous.

      As for Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You, you betcha. I don’t know if I mentioned already, but it is one of the greatest ever written. Fact.

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  2. I love all the facts I’ve learned here!
    I would normally be skeptical but you’ve never steered me wrong so I’m track this down to gift to Sean. The nice thing is that for once I know for sure he doesn’t already have it!

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      1. You did. Took a while for my record store to get it in. My mom thinks it’s awfully funny. Reminds her of her own childhood collection – long gone to yard sales.

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      2. Excellent! I hope you enjoyed it!

        My ol’ man sometimes has a wry smile when I mention picking up albums that he too used to own.

        Guess he also has memories of me shaking my head and saying “aw, not that rubbish again” when I was too young to appreciate that stuff!

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  3. For years, the bee gees were akin to ‘nails on a chalkboard’ or ‘styrofoam being rubbed together’ to my ears, I could not handle the falsetto. So I was quite surprised and a little dismayed to see they had 2 albums on the 1001!
    However – your post gives me plenty of hope J, and the things people have told me about the 2 records I’ll hear (odessa and trafalgar) have all been favourable. So I may be late to the Bee Gees party after all, nice review!

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    1. Both of those albums are stellar, Geoff (Trafalgar gets two thumbs up!). The vocals are quite understated against the disco-era Bee Gees.

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  4. “Think Everly Brothers, Hollies, and that obscure band from Liverpool that called themselves The Beatles or something. Now sprinkle on some 13th Floor Elevators, The Beach Boys, Love, and Walker Brothers. ”

    Really? Man, I avoid these guys because of all the disco shite, but you’re saying they did good stuff before that? What the hell happened to them?

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    1. You betcha – loads of awesome prior to the disco-era sounds. Definitely worth keeping an eye out for them. Everything right up to Trafalgar is worthwhile in my opinion. All goes a bit too soft rock and then disco after that … but aye, there’s some very good stuff.

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      1. It’s an apt title, but then again, I’m not a fan of that period of their lives (and I like tea!). I’m glad to know there was something else prior to that that didn’t suck.

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      1. It’s not anything you’ve done, surely, just WP being WP. After I click through, I can comment, so that’s all good. Your replies do appear in my email, which is the big thing. And I can Like your post fromt he Reader, just not comment like the rest of them. It’s not a huge issue or anything. Oh, and after I go to post a comment, it asks me if I’m sure I want to send this non-secure form! Way to go, WP!

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      2. Odd. Seems the .org platform has a couple of niggles. May well head back over to the .com hosting, but it was worth a try.

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      3. Niggles! I like that word.

        Anyway, as Billy Joel said, man, ‘don’t go changin’ to try and please me.’ It’s only a couple of extra clicks. Besides, there’s probably a WP forum out there somewhere that would explain some of this stuff and help… at least, I would hope there is!

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  5. Great to see a truly wonderful (international) debut get some love. I rate this album very highly too. 1967, man!!

    The song craft is outstanding and the psychedelic flourishes integrated rather than bolted on. My two faves are the same as yours; ECLHMWSY and Red Chair. Did you know The Posies covers the former?

    If you ever see the next album, ‘Horizontal’, grab it. It’s perhaps not as scintillating as the 1st, but is also strong.

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    1. Thanks, Bruce. Every song on this, while not equally brilliant, are unquestionably crafted with care, love, and skill. A really beautiful album.

      I wasn’t aware of The Posies cover, I’ll need to check that out. Is recommend looking up the Goon Moon take if you haven’t heard it, cause it really is pretty great.

      I intend on picking up everything up to Trafalgar (though focusing on the first four initially).

      I’ve heard a few of the early albums and I was really rather taken by them. I haven’t heard Horizontal, right enough so I’ll get that on the list pronto. Odessa is a favourite, though. Quite an interesting concept – lost ship and all – particularly given the results!

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