Saved by the Bell: The Collected Works of Robin Gibb 1968-1970

Robin Gibb

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Saved by the Bell: The Collected Works of Robin Gibb 1968-1970 Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

A little known phase of the Bee Gees' history is the late '60s, when Robin Gibb left the band in a pique following the decision to banish his song "Lamplight" to the B-side of a single. Gibb pursued a solo career, releasing Robin's Reign in 1970 and coming close to completing a second called Sing Slowly Sisters before he decided to return to the fold in the summer of 1970. Robin was on his own for just over a year, but he recorded plenty of material during that time, all of which is collected on the 2015 triple-disc box Saved by the Bell: The Collected Works of Robin Gibb 1969-1970. Producer Andrew Sandoval began work on this set while Gibb was alive and continued after the singer's 2012 death, creating it by digging through the vaults and relying on fans to provide rarities (Saint Etienne's Bob Stanley provides the much-needed liner notes). The resulting box contains all of Robin's Reign, presented in its stereo mix, along with selected mono mixes and an outtake ("Hudson's Fallen Wind"), and an alternate take of "Lord Bless All," a finished version of Sing Slowly Sisters on the second disc, then a collection of BBC sessions, Italian versions, and demos on the third disc. With the exception of a couple of grand, punchy pop tunes and the mock-country of "Engines Aeroplanes," all of the music is very much of a piece with the Baroque stylings of Odessa: eccentric, deeply melancholy pop perched on the edge of being slightly too precious. The only time where it seems as if Gibb is indulging himself is on the demos -- the eight-minute "Return to Austria" is a very long sit -- but there's a precocious curiosity to his ideas here. He's willfully following his muse and while it may lead him into twisted, flowery tunnels, it's often quite compelling and it's good to have it preserved for the historical record in this fashion.

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