Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Album of the Day #160: TRAFALGAR - Bee Gees

Artist: Bee Gees

Title: Trafalgar
Label: Atco/Polydor
Year: 1971
Songs: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart*/Israel**/The Greatest Man In The World*/It's Just The Way***/Remembering*/Somebody Stop The Music^/Trafalgar***/Don't Wanna Live Inside Myself**/When Do I*/Dearest*/Lion In Winter*/Walking Back To Waterloo^^
Written by: *Robin & Barry Gibb, **Barry Gibb, ***Maurice Gibb, ^Barry & Maurice Gibb & ^^Robin, Barry & Maurice Gibb
Produced by: Robert Stigwood and the Bee Gees
Thoughts: After splitting up in 1969 and then coming back together only to produce an unsuccessful album, by 1971, the Bee Gees were probably desperate to come up with a hit. "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" was just that - the hit they needed. It gave them their first #1 hit in the US and is easily one of their best songs and certainly one I could listen to ad infinitum. As the lead off track to Trafalgar, it sets the tone for the rest of the album. There's certainly nothing rock-y about this LP, so it is just a set of smooth poppy love songs that the Gibbs are so perfect at making. "It's Just The Way", Maurice's showcase on side one, is probably the closest they get to rock on this album, with its' hammering drum parts from Geoff Bridgford and a good solo from guitarist Alan Kendall. The rest of side one is made up of Barry's great "Israel" and terribly romantic "The Greatest Man In The World" ("I'd be the greatest man in the world/'Cause I'd have the greatest girl in the world"....awwww). Robin gets his typical wistful ballad in the form of "Remembering" (it's far too similar to "I Started A Joke" and "First Of May" for me) and there's a great group harmony performance hidden behind the over-the-top strings by Bill Shepherd in "Somebody Stop The Music" (which also has a very sly ad-lib part during the fade-out).
The other side kicks-off with Maurice's lively (well, compared to everything else) "Trafalgar". What really sticks out to me is this fantastic bass line during the ending when the guys are singing "Trafalgar! Trafalgar!" over the drums and guitar. "Don't Wanna Live Inside Myself" was the second single, but was a terrible failure. The song is actually pretty good, with probably some of the most powerful vocals on the album, but the problem might have been that the public thought it sounded too much like "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart". The rest isn't that memorable. "When Do I" sounds like Robin suddenly went to the studio with amnesia and forgot how to sing. "Dearest" is another Robin sleeper , but "Lion In Winter" is pretty funky (especially since Shepherd's orchestration is kept to a minimum). "Walking Back To Waterloo" is a dramatic closing to an album housed in a package that emulates the tumultuous Napoleonic Wars.
Overall, the album is pretty good, but you can't help but feel that a lot of the stuff on it feels too much alike, especially Robin's material. He's suited to sing one style of song (the moving ballad), so when you stick more than one of those on an album they get kind of boring.
I'm kind of annoyed that I only have this on vinyl and I hope Rhino gets to it soon (we'll still have to see Cucumber Castle and 2 Years On first, neither of which I have on any format).

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