Bee Gees: 1st (1967)

It's a little tough for those of us who grew up in the '70s to objectively assess the Bee Gees, their legacy so intertwined with their disco-era success.  And, sure, most of what they did both before and after their Saturday Night Fever heyday was pretty damn sappy.  Still, I don't mind confessing a little love for their initial run of late '60s albums, which managed some pretty decent light psychedelia and sunshine pop amidst the saccharine.

Their 1967 debut was far more indebted to the Beatles than most of what came later, and while this makes a few songs a bit derivative, the Bee Gees were often better served being derivative of the Beatles than carving out their own ground.  Take "In My Own Time," a punchy little pop tune that sounds like a Rubber Soul-era outtake, and a damn good one at that.

As was mandatory for most British (or, in this case, Australian) bands in '67-'68, there's a large debt to Sgt. Pepper and like-minded pop-psyche.  Opener "Turn of the Century," "Red Chair Fadeaway," and "Craise Finton Kirk" are all whimsical and of the moment; and they venture into outright psychedelia on the trippy, Moody Blues-ish "Every Christian Lion Hearted Man," odd Gregorian chants paired with an infectious chorus that was arguably borrowed by a little-known band called the Clique on their non-hit "Superman" (later covered by R.E.M.).

You've also got a few better-known singles: "New York Mining Disaster 1941" is perfectly fine, a little dirge-like but with a catchy chorus; "Holiday" is way too saccharine for me (a weaker cousin to the Stones' "Ruby Tuesday"), an indicator of the sound they'd pursue on their largely interchangeable soft rock albums in their pre-disco early '70s.  Alas, much of the balance is similarly sappy and often string-laden, not something I have much appetite for.

Still, a chunk of this is charming enough, a ratio that would carry over to the next three '60s releases, each of which had a few surprisingly colorful sunshine pop/light psychedelia tracks (particularly on 1969's impressively ambitious Odessa) amidst the more cloying work.  Personally, I took these highlights and made a pretty great mix of psyche-era Bee Gees, something surprisingly cohesive.  If you're a fan of early Moody Blues, maybe the first Genesis album, odds are you'll like some of this stuff as well.

Here's "In My Own Time":
 ...and "New York Mining Disaster":
Here's "Turn Of The Century" live in 1973:
Here's an audio rip of "Every Christian...":
Somewhat surprisingly, Barry Gibb pulled out "Every Christian.." at a 2013 concert, a pretty unlikely choice and presumably not on the wish list of many in attendance:


  1. Thank you for putting me out of my misery. I was listening to Every Christian Lion hearted man …and knew I had heard that chorus before. After much trawling through my records, I narrowed it down to REM. But still couldn’t pinpoint the song. I didn’t realise Superman was a cover. I agree about Bee Gees First. It’s pretty good.


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