Friday, September 24, 2010

Bee Gees - This Is Where I Came In (2001)

Every time the brothers Gibb make another LP, the word is that they are going to return to the brilliant, crystalline pop with which they began in 1962-1972. It does make for a tasty proposition: Masters of early-'60s Merseybeat and late-'60s psych-pop, the Aussie teen sensations returned to their native England and wrote and recorded 12 indelible rock/pop hits from 1967-1972, all with fantastic three-part harmonies, as well as seven inspired LPs. So when one notes this album's title and the cover photo of the Bee Gees as teens, it's clear what the Gibbs intend, but they come up woefully short. Probably the best LP they've given in three decades, since Trafalgar and To Whom It May Concern, but that still says so pitifully little.

 It's shot down by '90s/'00s overproduction and Barry Gibb's penchant for oversinging; even when he writes a whimsical little "When I'm 64"/"Honey Pie" dance-hall pop tune such as "Technicolor Dreams," he still can't stop himself from trilling with all that bogus, phony air, where once he nailed such material with his natural voice. Worse, the LP is sabotaged by limpid, edge-less, polite production, so sanitized and squishy and mushy it's like aural wallpaper. The guitars have no bang, the keyboards are facile, the drums too mechanical, the bass too relegated to the background. In short, it's so over-stylized, there's no longer any there there. This is too bad, because their old songwriting knack isn't entirely absent. There's no "World," "Lemons Never Forget," or "Please Read Me," but the highlight title track racked up some deserved adult contemporary play (and some great, vintage singing from Robin Gibb), and the verses of "She Keeps on Coming" and "Walking on Air," and the choruses and bridges of "Wedding Day" and "Man in the Middle" are fine -- showing that with less sappy production, less overdramatizing, and/or a younger, grittier backing band, these three nice men might have been justly hailed again for something more than being has-been heritage artists. They can still sing instinctive harmonies like few others, and they can still write, but this is just another bad Bee Gees record.

01 - This Is Where I Came In
02 - She Keeps on Coming
03 - Sacred Trust
04 - Wedding Day
05 - Man in the Middle
06 - D?©j?  Vu
07 - Technicolor Dreams
08 - Walking on Air
09 - Loose Talk Costs Lives
10 - Embrace
11 - The Extra Mile

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