Robert Stigwood

Plays Bee Gees' Hits

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Of all the various instrumental adaptations of 1960s rock done at the time, this album might be the best -- that it seems to stray the least distance from what we know to be the songs speaks volumes about the quality of the singing on the originals; that arranger/conductor Bill Shepherd, who worked with the Bee Gees for five years, from 1967 through 1972, accounts for the combination of authenticity and inventiveness. Thus, "Birdie Told Me" opens with a moody, brooding sax part, whilst "Words" closes with a delightful flourish on the winds; and "To Love Somebody" captures a playful side to the opening verse that is often eclipsed by the haunting choruses. Shepherd knew his way around an orchestra well enough to add percussion flourishes to the second verse, while not sacrificing the harp arpeggios that ornamented much of the group's second and third albums (and why would he, as he scored them in the first place?). The presence of several less familiar compositions, such as "Sinking Ships" and "Swan Song," also lends the record greater import for serious fans, who can get to hear these less-well-known corners of the group's songbag explored. The original production was very fine, and any serious fan of the group's work will heartily wish that this record will re-surface on CD one of these days.

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