by Nicholas James
Having released three highly successful
albums and having an unbroken three-year run
of hit singles, the Bee Gees could have just
produced another version of
they took the brave move of releasing a
concept album, a double record (although
only a single disc CD) with velvet cover.
Odessa takes the listener on an Odyssey, a
voyage around the world and through history,
and in doing so proved the Gibb Brothers to
be the most progressive and innovative
recording act of the time. It also sold
rather well and spawned a major hit single,
'First of May'.
This album demands a closer look. Whilst it
is tempting to review this album
track-by-track, for brevity, I will pick my
personal favourites. The title track is a
glorious and beautifully produced story of a
ship lost in the North Atlantic and is over
seven minutes long. 'Black Diamond', a story
of exploration, features a powerful Robin
lead and defies categorisation. Barry also
takes the lead on a number of tracks,
including the catchy 'Never Say Never Again'
and 'You'll Never See My Face Again'', but
his finest moment is the tongue-in-cheek
country-flavoured 'Marley Purt Drive'. If
you haven't got a smile on your face after
that song, you haven't got a sense of
humour! 'Whisper Whisper' is a moving and
quite fascinating track about the 1960s
drugs scene. 'Give Your Best' is a
hilarious 'square dance' track, and three of the
tracks ('Seven Seas Symphony', 'With All
Nations' and 'The British Opera') are
actually classical music pieces with no
Odessa is also notable for being the first
album to include what would become a feature
of most future Bee Gees albums, a 'token'
Maurice track. 'Suddenly' is a real
highlight of the album, as many of Maurice's
tracks would be.
And if you want a song that will send you
running for the hankies, skip to the
splendid 'Lamplight', a gorgeous production
with Robin almost equalling his performance
on 'I Stared A Joke'.
So whilst their previous album,
somewhat lightweight, this album is
major-league material of considerable
distinction. It has been described by other
critics as "dense and complex". That it is,
but it is also incredibly
atmospheric to boot.
Now available as a box set,
released by Warner in 2009, a 3-disc
set featuring outtakes and deleted tracks.
Why Buy Odessa?
It is a masterpiece. Period.
Click here to buy Odessa 3-disc box set version (released
Click here to buy original CD version (released 1999)