Robin Gibb

Sing Slowly Sisters

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After his debut solo album, Robin's Reign, was completed, Robin Gibb began working on a second album in 1970 that never came out -- and might not have even been completed -- as by the end of the summer, the Bee Gees were back together again. It's uncertain whether this 20-song bootleg of (largely) unreleased circa-1970 Gibb solo material would have been (in whole or part) his second album, or if (as is far more likely) it's just a collection of tracks he was working on at the time, before the decision to cancel the LP. Whatever the case, it's unsurprisingly highly reminiscent of Robin's Reign (some of these might in fact be outtakes from Robin's Reign rather than from the unreleased LP), and not that far removed from the late-'60s Bee Gees: quality melodramatic British pop, grandiosely orchestrated. As with Robin's Reign, though, the orchestration tends toward the grander and puffier, and the songs even sadder and more bittersweet than the early Bee Gees, particularly since Robin's sing-sob takes all the vocals, lead and background. There is little rainier rainy-day music in all of rock history; "Engines, Aeroplanes" is virtually the only bouncy, upbeat tune on the CD. But the songs aren't quite up to the level of the best work by the early Bee Gees, coming off as a bit formulaic, though it's a good formula, no mistake. There are some moments of eerie beauty on songs like "A Very Special Day," "Iron in the Fire," and two songs on which he's only accompanied by shaky church-like organ, "Janice" and "You're Going Away." And throughout, there's self-absorbed lyrical enigma aplenty. Unfortunately the sound quality isn't so hot, sounding like nth-generation tapes where the highs have been tweaked and squashed. If the original tapes could be found and an official collection compiled from those, it would be a major archival release for Bee Gees fans. As it is, only obsessive Bee Gees fans will be able to put up with the trade-off of rarity versus subpar fidelity. The CD also includes mono versions of "Weekend" (from Robin's Reign) and "One Million Years" (his second solo single, which appeared on the German version of Robin's Reign), and the fidelity on these songs isn't optimal either, though it's better than the rest of the tracks.

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