The Bee Gees had entered the early '70s with a roaring success in the guise of "Lonely Days" and its accompanying album, which established their sound as a softer pop variant on the Moody Blues' brand of progressive rock. Trafalgar, which followed, carried the process further on what was their longest single LP release, clocking in at 47 minutes. The music all sounded meaningful, much of it displaying the same kind of faux-grandeur that the Moody Blues affected on their music of this era, the core group (playing pretty hard) acompanied by either Mellotron-generated orchestra or the real thing, with the group's soaring harmonies and Robin Gibb's quavaring lead vocals all over the place. As with 2 Years On's "Man for All Seasons," there was also one title ("Lion in Winter," featuring a startling falsetto performance) lifted from a recently popular film and play having to do with English history. It was all very beautifully produced and, propelled into record-store racks by the presence of "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart," the group's first No. 1 single, Trafalgar shipped very well initially. Nothing else on the record was remotely as memorable as the single, however, and its sales were limited. Trafalgar was also the handsomest and most elaborately designed of their albums, its cover reprinting Pocock's painting "The Battle of Trafalgar" and the interior gatefold containing a shot of the brothers enacting the scene of the death of Lord Nelson. It all imparted the sense of a concept album, though nothing in the music said so, except perhaps the finale, "Walking Back to Waterloo." Despite the hit single, the album showed the limits of the Bee Gees' talents as songwriters and of their appeal as album artists.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder