1969, Music

Odessa (1969) by Bee Gees

I mostly know the Bee Gees from their most famous songs. And I can tell you categorically that their most famous songs from the ’70s gave me zero hint of what this record was going to sound like. I had, of course, heard a couple hits of theirs from the ’60s, and that gave me some limited idea, but nothing really prepared me for this double album. Ambition is not a word that I thought I would associate with these guys.

It is fascinating that this record sort of killed their career. I suspect, though I obviously don’t know, that if I ever listen to more of this records this one will remain my favourite. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but this is the kind of thing that appeals to me and I don’t know that they ever attempted anything like this before or since.

There are a lot of pretty catchy songs here but the one that really wins me over is the title track, which is super ambitious and unlike anything I’ve ever heard from them. If this song had been located elsewhere on the record, I don’t know if I would have been so pleasantly disposed to the rest of it. Still, the rest of it is full of catchy music.

I can’t say I love a lot of the lyrics and the more I pay attention to them the more I get a little grumpy. They’re not all bad – far from it – but enough of them are weak or bad that I’d rather just not listen to the words.

The arrangements run quite a wide gamut, which is another reason this record is appealing. There is both baroque pop (and vaguely psychedelic and progressive pop) on here, as well as dalliances with country. And unlike so many British bands, here the country sometimes actually sounds like country. It’s a weird combination that shouldn’t work but it does more often than not. I have no idea why they did this (though country was trendy in 1969) but kudos to them for this rather unique combination.

Anyway, I’m very pleasantly surprised by this record. It makes me think I should listen to other Bee Gees ’60s records, which I never thought I would say.


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