Yes, this was the Bee Gees 'white' album, only this doubled LP had a red velvet cover and a 'Titanic'-like illustration in the gatefold. Now available on a single CD, it marks the end of the sixties period for the Bee Gees.
The music? This was an important time for the Gibbs' who were maturing (at ages 19 and 21) and already millionaires. The music was conceptual and starting with the title track, it delivers with powerful orchestration and emotional, lyrical simplicity. It is a skewed look at a fabled seafarer lost at sea and emotionally destitute. At least, that's what the project started out to be.
Somewhere during the recordings, egos flared and tempers snapped, so what you ended up with is a collection of half Bee Gees conceptual songs and half individual Gibb contributions. It is still a remarkable recording!
Stand-out cuts are "Marley Purt Drive" that could have been recorded by "The Band" and "Melody Fair", a single in some countries and a well covered track.
Most of the other tracks deal with period issues like, drugs, sex, rock 'n roll, psychodelia and why not? Producer Stigwood unwittingly fueled the tensions by choosing "First Of May" as the A-Side single instead of B-Side "Lamplight", which was just as strong.
Regardless, the final outcome is a conceptual album filled with an orchestrally sweeping moodiness aligned with perfect harmonies and lyrics envied by everyone. This is one of the few albums of the period with orchestral solos with the Gibbs providing the chorus. It is monumental.
on 25 October 2004
Despite or because of the creative tension between the brothers, this turned out to be, arguably, the one truly essential Bee Gees album and the only one that could convert a sceptic who previously sneered at them, dismissing them as a trivial pop act (I'm speaking from personal experience, of course). Basically it perfects the baroque-pop formula of the previous albums by taking it further out, varying the song-structures and adding more to the arrangements. And needless to say the vocals are exceptional.
The lyrics are still mixtures of the bland and the incomprehensible. And there's the little matter of the "you're only a woman" chorus of 'Melody Fair' - what DID they mean by that, bearing in mind that they've just told her to smarten herself up a bit? But elsewhere the lyrics are notable for being not irritating but actually thought-provoking. The odes to Thomas Edison and to a pet dog (`First Of May') and the Band-influenced tale of an orphanage manager (`Marley Purt Drive') manage to charm, and even born-sceptics will be intrigued to know what `Laugh In Your Face', `Whisper Whisper' (an odd tempo-shifting rocker) and `Black Diamond' are really about.
And the epic title track - the most powerful single song in the Gibb catalogue. Several songs on this album resemble early Genesis, but this one could be a `Trespass' outtake, dense with detail from its startling stereo-panning introduction through the main song body (letters never sent, from a shipwrecked sailor in danger of freezing to death) to its climactic spanish-guitar solo. It's almost worth the price of the album in its own right.
on 4 August 2009
Having purchased all the previous Bee Gees' Rhino re-issues (with bonus tracks) I was eagerly awaiting this triple CD set....and on the whole it's a great collection, as with all the Series it's superbly remastered and has a wealth of Demos and unreleased tracks...
After Bee Gee's 1st, Idea and Horizontal - Odessa sees the Bee Gees' talent with song writing in the 60's at its creative peak - I would liken their run of 60's albums to the run of albums from The Beatles from an almost identical time period - Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and their creative peak: The Beatles (White Album)...
I mention this because as with the White Album, Odessa can be a little confusing and simplistic on first listen, with only the title track and several well known singles of initial interest....then, over time, the album as a whole grows to be a fully fledged musical classic with real depth and contrast....listen to it late at night with headphones and enjoy!
on 20 July 2007
well i loved it when it first came out (loved the velvet cover) and found it hasnt lost its charm. Thought at the time that "Lamplight" should have been the A side single release and listening again still think that.
Well wot=rth buying it again just to listen to the Bee Gees singing with decent voices.
Originally released in February 1969, and criminally ignored when compilers and critics list their `must buy' albums from the decade, this double album foray into `concept' territory is the next instalment in the Brothers Gibb reissue campaign, expanded to cover three CDs. What, a double album on a trio of compact discs? How can that be? As with their first three albums, `Odessa' (it was going to be called 'Masterpeace' or 'The American Opera') includes both stereo and mono versions with the third disc comprising of no less than 20 previously unissued demos, outtakes, and alternate mixes, along with two songs left off the original release and not heard until now. This might be a long review, but I'm sure you'll want to know about all the tracks on this third CD.
`Odessa' has a spoken intro from Barry with a few lyrical changes and is missing the "ba ba black sheep" bit but isn't that different other in the delivery and the length. Missing the orchestra and double tracking, `You'll Never See My Face Again' certainly benefits from what was added later whilst 'Black Diamond' is a piano and cello led early run through without the wordless backing vocals. As for `Marley Purt Drive', only Bee Gees die-hards would notice the minor differences between this alternate mix and the original (it's in the coda). `Barbara Came to Stay' was reworked with a different title and lyrics morphing into `Edison', which gets an outing in an alternate mix, complete with a couple of dreadful edits at the start of Barry's "oh, oh" vocal. The `Melody Fair' demo is taken at a faster pace than the finished article and knowing it was going to be filled with something, the Gibbs simply chant the title for the last minute or so. The second appearance of this song doesn't have the strings. Other than dispensing with the ocarina-sounding instrument at the beginning, most people would be hard pressed to differentiate between the alternate mix of `Suddenly' and the approved version. Recorded in two parts, `Whisper Whisper Part Two' is the final 65 seconds of that song, but played in a completely different tempo without drums and orchestration; the group was wise to remake this section. With a backing of guitar, drums and piano and with the opening lines of French yet to be added, `Lamplight' sounds rather sparse without the string accompaniment, but that's what makes these alternative versions interesting. This demo has a complete ending rather than the familiar fade out whilst an aternative mix is also included. What might have made a decent A side, `Sound of Love', in this bonus mix with nascent lyrics, to me, is actually better, the orchestra being kept to a minimum producing a more successful result. Another track that is improved is the single voiced `Give Your Best' mix. It also seems strangely out of place considering the other songs.
The first of three instrumental tracks on the original release, the bonus cut of `Seven Seas Symphony' is Maurice on solo piano for two minutes, immediately followed by an unearthed gem: a vocal version of `With All Nations'! Why the Gibbs decided to forgo this is unknown but these are the reasons why we clamour for such delights. It's short but effective. Originally a contender for a B-side, `I Laugh in Your Face' was remixed for `Odessa' but it's that first consideration that is heard here. Is it worth it? It doesn't sound as much of a dirge as the album version if that's any help. The weirdest selection on this disc with words added and removed, what can only be thought of as an experiment is the basis of the fuzz guitar heard throughout the alien mix of `Never Say Never Again'. But is it any good? If nothing else, it makes for interesting listening. `First of May' appears in two different forms on this third CD; the first is take two, which is a brief 90 second piano demo whilst the other is an entirely different Barry vocal mixed to the front, probably discarded because he had trouble reaching the high notes. Recorded during these sessions, both `Nobody's Someone' and `Pity' may have been left off the final running order due to space. Heard for the first time, the former is Barry, guitar, bass, drums and a 'plinky plink' style orchestral backing on a pleasant but nothing special song. The latter sounds like a demo to which the group never returned. With its piano and drums augmented by what could be a xylophone, it's all topped off with a creepy organ ending. The final track is an 'in store' advert for the album and, hence, is a complete waste of space and time. One minor aberration is the absence of an alternate version of `The British Opera'. Maybe such a thing no longer exists, which seems odd considering everything else appears to have been preserved.
This is the 40th Anniversary box set edition, complete with felt cover, poster and sticker (but no t shirt, unlike the USA issue) though there is a cheaper jewel case available for those who just want the music. Though not as good as the first three albums in this series in respect to bonus material, whichever one you buy (and the deluxe edition is quite expensive), this is how reissue campaigns should be undertaken and both Rhino and the Gibb brothers should be commended. The downside of this reissue campaign is that by keeping to schedule, we won't see the next instalment until May 2010.
After forty years, the Gibb Brothers have finally re-released their most classic and eclectic of albums, "Odessa". Released at the height of their first popularity and the start of their ultimate eighteen-month breakup, these three musicians, barely out of their teens, produced their only double studio album. Originally coated in a red velvet cover, this is one of the most extravagant re-releases to date. Originally seventeen songs, varying from the near operatic, "Odessa (City On The Black Sea)" to country flavored tunes like, "Marley Purt Drive" and "Give Your Best", the Gibbs cover nearly every style of pop music available, including rock, orchestral, country and R&B.
Originally slated to be titled, "An American Opera" or "Masterpeace", this double album epitomizes the height of talent of the Bee Gees boundless creativity. In addition to two new studio songs, "Pity" and "Nobody's Someone", there are alternate and demo mixes that will surprise in their originality, beat and alternate verses. "Edison", "Lamplight", First Of May" and "Whisper, Whisper" all are given special treatment, sometimes twice. "Whisper, Whisper" is actually Part Two, a welcome addition to a song that originally ended too quickly on a fast, rock driven pace.
Of the three discs (57 songs), the stereo had been remixed to absolute, crystal clear perfection, bringing out all the muffled sounds that the original LP contained. The Mono mixes present the songs with emphasis on different vocals and instruments, while the third disc contains all the previously unreleased material.
Fan Joe Brennan of website "Gibb Songs" has this great explanation of Stereo vs. Mono recordings: "Odessa was recorded on 1-inch 8-track tape reels. Each of the 8 tracks can be played separately, and each might have the input from one or more microphones. Each of the 8 could be recorded at different times and places (like New York and London), or erased and re-recorded. To make stereo, you have to mix down to 2 tracks, and for mono, mix down to 1 track. While doing this you get to decide how relatively loud each track should be. That's where the differences come from. The source is the same 8 track master. Mono was for old record players, and for AM radio, which was where you heard the latest tunes on your transistor radio or car radio".
With three discs, a poster, extensive liner notes, photographs of the group, handwritten lyrics, single covers and reel-to-reel listings, a T-Shirt and a sticker all enclosed in a nifty red velvet covered box, this limited edition is a fan and collector's dream.
on 5 February 2009
The CD is alive and well. If proof were ever needed that CD is the finest sound delivery format ever to grace this earth then look no further. How sad the MP3 obsessed culture and vinyl bandwagon cruisers can't seem to get it into their hearing deficient skulls. No matter, for those who are fortunate enough to hear this peak in the history of Bee Gees Vol 1 you are in for a pleasant experience.
I was captivated by this album the first time I played it. I can't put my finger on why it draws me in the way it does. Quite simply it is just an example of very fine song compositon and incredibly detailed arrangements. I consider it to be the quintessential Bee Gees album. After this it went downhill and with the move to disco and tight rubber bands around the nether regions I couldn't take them seriously. Odessa is of a different time. It's bold, beautiful and blessed with the innocence of a time when creation mattered more than image.
The remastering is possibly the best I have heard EVER. The ever dependable Dan Hersch of Rhino's favourite mastering house, Digiprep, has proved once again he is at the very top of his game with an obvious passion for quality and authenticity. The purity and accuracy of the sound is truly outstanding and does not suffer any digital indignities often present in many modern remasterings of archive material.
Andrew Sandoval must also be congratulated for overseeing the whole package. When a reissue is handled by people with a genuine personal interest in what they are doing then the result, like this package, is a pleasure to behold.
on 23 January 2010
I waited for this release for so long and was so pleased with the resulting package. Odessa was my favourite album from the time I first played my vinyl copy in the Sixties. I still have that double album and a cheap CD version which omits With All Nations. The Bee Gees have been my number one artists since I first heard Massachusetts, and I have everything they have ever released, but this album is the jewel in the crown. The sound is superb and it brings out the best in the wonderful voices of Robin and Barry Gibb. The title track, Melody Fair, Lamplight, Sound Of Love, Seven Seas Symphony, I Laugh In Your Face, and First Of May are my particular favourites but, in my opinion, every song by the Bee Gees has something special. What this set does is to capture the beauty of the album, either in stereo or mono and to give an insight into alternative versions and demos on the 3rd disc. The biggest bonus for Bee Gees fans is that the previously unreleased Nobody's Someone and Pity are included on disc 3. This is the Bee Gees at their very best!
on 7 January 2016
I was always aware of this album but the price was always too high for a cd purchase. I knew of 3 particular tracks but the lure of this album and knowledge from 1969 was driving me crazy. I kept my eye on the market & I spotted just what I was looking for. £11 for the album including p&p, said to have been played only once so I ordered. Pete, I apologise, I can't remember your business details other than this. The cd arrived 1 day earlier than expected, the unit was well packaged & as described. Pete even included a personalised note saying I hope I enjoy your purchase & if not, to let him. Played it, wow, my wife & I & I just melted away. Use all the superlatives you want, if you're looking for something different, get this. You don't have to be BG's lover, absolutely fantastic music.
on 29 January 2015
Wow, an absolutely superb item. Anybody in any doubt regarding the Bee Gees tremendous talent needs to listen to this album. Like another reviewer here, I was moved to buy as many of the Bee Gees recordings as I could after seeing recent programmes on tv detailing their career. I've always loved the Bee Gees, was lucky enough to see them live & already have some of their albums. However many of the albums I'd bought were from the later part of their career & I have a real desire to get hold of as many of their past recordings as I can.
I already know that this is going to be one of my favourite cd's. It was worth every penny & I'm only sorry I hadn't discovered the wonder of this real gem before.