Bee Gees

In Their Own Time

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The Bee Gees were never bootlegged during the vinyl era, so the arrival of In Their Own Time as a CD-R on this reviewer's desk was an unexpected treat. The first two songs, "Mrs. Gillespie's Refrigerator" and "Deeply, Deeply Me," are from the demo that the trio's father had sent to NEMS and other recording and publishing organizations in December of 1966, prior to their setting out for England. Both are very (and very pleasantly) Beatlesque without offering much that is original, which doesn't mean that they aren't worth hearing -- indeed, for any other outfit, they'd have likely made the cut in some form for the group's first album; we just happen to know that the Bee Gees delivered much better material. "Deeply, Deeply Me" is particularly interesting, offering the trio's take on raga rock; they were astonishingly advanced for teenagers working at this stuff from half a world away, even if this particular direction didn't play to their greatest strengths. Most of the rest is made up of appearances on such broadcast showcases as Top Gear and Top of the Pops, featuring the group playing live in the studio; their sound is amazingly consistent, whether performing with a small pickup band or their own accompanists, and "New York Mining Disaster 1941," "In My Own Time," and "One Minute Woman" come off beautifully in what amount to preview performances for their first album. Some of the sound quality is uneven, as is par for the course on compilations of this kind -- the bass is represented a little too well at times, but not at the expense of enjoying the songs. And in the absence of any official live recordings of the group from this era, it is fascinating to hear these lean, stripped-down concert renditions of their core repertory. One can finally appreciate fully what Maurice Gibb, Colin Petersen, and Vince Melouney -- on bass, drums, and lead guitar, respectively -- added to the group's early sound on-stage; they're a really top-flight garage band on "I Close My Eyes," "To Love Somebody," and even "Massachusetts," albeit with extraordinary voices. It's amazing to contemplate that the group pulled this off regularly in concert, in essence doing in 1967-1968 what the Beatles might've done had they not given up concertizing. One can even hear their sound advance and tighten up, so that "Mrs. Gillespie's Refrigerator" turns into something decidedly more Bee Gees-like and not Beatlesque at all by September of 1967. A number of other songs, including "Cucumber Castle" and "New York Mining Disaster 1941," are represented several times, but no two performances are alike. Other highlights include the instrumental track for the single "Jumbo" and a pair of Coca-Cola commercials that the group recorded for radio broadcast in 1968.