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Pure Pop Pleasure with a Psychedelic Flavour
on 3 March 2010
Once upon a time, the Brothers Gibb sailed from Australia and landed in Swinging London. Late 60s psychedelia was in full flood. Sergeant Pepper was released on June 1st, 1967. The following month, the Bee Gees appropriately named 'First' album emerged in its wake. Revealed on this double disk edition is an album of pure pop perfection, sprinkled with enough magical, psychedelic pixie-dust to endear it to a legion of fans at the time. Honestly, pop albums don't come much better than this. The opening track, 'Turn of the Century,' sets out the Gibbs' stall, packaging the then-popular Edwardian revival into a Carnaby Street friendly tune about time-travel. The mysterious 'Holiday' follows, replete with a simple-sounding but impenetrable lyric. 'Red Chair, Fade Away' is similarly opaque. But now we have the benefit of the really excellent booklet provided with this set, in which the inspirations behind the songs are recalled and explained. Many forty-year mysteries are answered in the process.
For me, the highlight of the album comes with tracks 6 to 8, beginning with the awesome, droning chant of 'Every Christian Lion-hearted Man...,' moving on to the delightfully chirpy yet mildly demented 'Craise Fenton Kirk: Royal Academy of Arts,' and then to their bizarre hit single, 'New York Mining Disaster, 1941.' Perhaps only in the experimental 60s could a downbeat song about people dying in a mining disaster become a pop hit. It is, though, a mesmerising performance backed by brilliant production. The same could be said of every track on the album. These boys were announcing their arrival and proving themselves to be great tune-smiths, fine, oblique lyricists and damn fine singers of Beatles-esque harmonies.
The bonus tracks are very welcome, my favourite being 'House of Lords,' which really should have been included on the original album.
Wonderful stuff then, and a million miles from the Micky Mouse vocals of the 70s disco hits for which the Bee Gees are now chiefly known. So, 5 stars and worth every penny.