Saved By The Bell: The Collected Works of ROBIN GIBB 1968-1970 3XCD Box Set

robin_1The wonder of Robin Gibb is a mix between why there are so few who know and appreciate him outside the Bee Gees and simultaneously why those people give a shit. For me, Robin has always occupied a somber, longing kind of place. This is not music that will motivate you to go out on Friday night, but instead, will motivate you to roll one and lie flat on your floor looking through old copies of Bazaar.

Saved By The Bell: The Collected Works of Robin Gibb 1968-1970 isn’t my favorite era Gibb, oddly, since it is most fans’. I’ve always been partial to the twisted yacht rock of 1983’s How Old Are You. The thing about Robin is that if you can tolerate it at all, chances are you like it. The first disc of the three-disc set is just 1970’s Robin’s Reign with the mono versions included for indiscernible “variety.” The record is pretty classic Robin and pushes his warble to it’s most intense. Chamber compositions like “Down Came the Sun’’ are so tended to production-wise that it’s difficult to ascertain how they could have ever been recorded. There’s a beauty to Gibb’s approach that will be lost on most but not on all. Overall, the record is a classic and finally being able to secure a copy without some strange import mastering or alternate track list is worth the box set by itself.

Also included are the Sing Slowly Sisters sessions (three times fast, please), which are truly prismatic and post-psychedelic. The question with Gibb is how much weird is too much weird? Here, the quirks become somewhat tedious if not confusing and overall a bit difficult to navigate through. I’m going to go ahead and estimate the references to obscure British battles and WWI at about three per minute. That’s not to say there are no gems in here. Some of these songs are overpoweringly beautiful (and concurrently overpoweringly sad) and undeniably well composed. The title track and songs like “Avalanche” reside in Robin’s wheelhouse and are worthy of the diamonds in the rough designation that the collection strives so hard for.

The demos and unreleased cuts that follow on disc three are the real treats here. Somehow even more spun out than the Sing Slowly Sisters sessions, these are the wing-spreaders for Robin and really showcase how strange his musical approach was. “The Band Will Meet Mr. Justice” sounds like a Charley Patton song if Charley Patton was from Lancashire. “Goodbye Good World” sounds as if it was recorded in space. Robin’s voice is so instantly recognizable that it’s hard to understand why it is so unsettling at the same time.

This one isn’t for everyone, but neither was Robin, it instead is an archeological dig through one of the most original and interesting song writing minds of the 60s and 70s. Think you’re into “psych”? Try and figure this one out. [Rhino]

-Alan Price

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