by Nicholas James
Now this album is almost worth four stars.
The Bee Gees are now working together more
cohesively after the discordant
2 Years On
(1970). This is a softer Bee Gees than we
knew in the 1960s, and this is a group that
now takes less risks musically. But it is
also a group that seems to be able to
effortlessly write timeless songs. Here the
song writing credits suggest that the
brothers are still working apart as well as
together, but this time it works. Almost.
The first track, 'How Can You Mend A Broken
Heart', became the group's first US number
one, but yet again their sales deteriorated
in the UK. And like the previous album,
Barry's songs ('Israel', 'The Greatest Man
In The World' and 'Don't Wanna Live Inside
Myself') are pleasant, melodious creations,
but carry little weight. Barry puts in
a fantastic vocal performance on 'Israel',
and the song sounds worthy, but a closer
look reveals some very ambiguous lyrics.
Robin takes a step back from the solo song
writing this time, but Maurice supplies a
couple of corkers (more than just the usual 'token' song this time). 'It's Just The Way'
and 'Trafalgar' both feature really engaging
guitar intros, but the latter track is a
really nice early 1970s period piece.
This album also works well when the brothers
write and perform together. 'Dearest' and
'Remembering' are both slightly mournful (or
in the case of 'Dearest' very mournful,
almost funereal), but they illustrate that
the brothers are still continuing to pursue
the themes of despair and death, but that their
storylines have moved from adventurous
stories of trapped miners and killers on
death row to the more homely subject of lost
lovers. 'When Do I' is a gem of a song,
showing Robin's vocal range to good effect,
but on this CD they have saved the best
until last. 'Walking Back To Waterloo'
demonstrates that they are at their best
when writing together and harmonising
together (and, in the case of this song,
when Robin and Barry share lead, something
they often did right until the end of the
group's exiatence). This song is
rousing, and the lyrics are suitably
enigmatic - just like all the best Bee Gees
songs - so that the listener can take from
it what he or she wants (is it a song about
the repetitive nature of daily life or a
statement on the British town planning
system? Or is it something else completely?)
Three and half stars!
Why Buy Trafalgar?
This is a rich album with some really great
songs. Explore a little known part of the
Bee Gees history.