Various Artists

Assault the Vaults: Rare Australian Cover Versions of the Brothers Gibb

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It's not well-known that the Bee Gees wrote many songs between 1963 and 1967 that were covered by Australian artists, but never recorded by the group. Most of those were solo Barry Gibb compositions, but there were a few songs that Maurice Gibb co-wrote with Spin Records chief Nat Kipner as well. Thirty-one of these rare efforts that the Gibbs gifted to others are assembled on this Australian compilation. All are original versions, and none were recorded by the Bee Gees themselves (indeed many were never covered again). That makes this quite a catch for devoted Bee Gees collectors, especially considering that the Bee Gees themselves played support roles on some of these sessions. On its own terms, though, the music's rather hit-and-miss. On the Bee Gees' own Australia-era recordings, they were stylistic gadflies, able emulators of contemporary trends without fully establishing their own identity. That formative confusion is reflected in many of this disc's songs, which run the gamut from bad country-pop and teen idol rock to excellent early Beatles imitations. In the latter category, Bryan Davies' "I Don't Like to Be Alone" will certainly please anyone who likes the sound of early-1964 British Invasion rock, with Trevor Gordon's "And I'll Be Happy" sounding much like a Billy J. Kramer outtake. Gordon's "Little Miss Rhythm & Blues" is another highlight, and is about as rowdy as Barry Gibb ever got in his writing. The numerous girl-sung tunes on this anthology tend not to nearly measure up to those standouts, though Sandy Summers doesn't sound bad in a (very) sub-Lulu fashion, and April Byron's "A Long Time Ago" is a decent dramatic ballad. The three collaborations between all three Gibb brothers -- Ronnie Burns "All the Kings Horses" and Jon Blanchfield's "Town of Tuxley Toymaker, Pt. 1" and "Upstairs Downstairs" -- find them getting far closer to the tuneful, slightly fanciful and neurotic variation of the Beatles' pop side that they finally perfected after moving to England in 1967.

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