by Kristin Battestella
Okay, I know there really isn’t much point in reviewing compilations, but sometimes they actually get it right in representing the artist. Best of Volume 2, while having a hideous cover, superbly collects the best of the Bee Gees mellow sound. 1973 was a down year for the Brothers. United, but almost artistically bankrupt, BV2 stretches back to 1968 for material. (Ironically Best of Volume 1 was released when the brothers were a house divided.) However, never has there been better material for the technology of the record!
Wouldn’t I Be Someone leads off Side One and was the proposed single from the unreleased A Kick In The Head Is Worth Eight In The Pants. Indeed this is probably the best of that bunch, with Barry and Robin alternating this moody tune. And imagine when I discovered the lyrics inside this sleeve! Alone these sounds are so great to cry to, but when you also have the words to actually read along, everything takes on a whole poetic feel. The interlude sung by Robin ‘Midnight stars are shining on my shoeshine...’ almost sounds like a child contemplating his sad fate. This combined with the instrumental arrangement is ingenious.
IOIO is the complete opposite of Someone (Also see our review of Cucumber Castle here.) It’s such an upbeat reggae style song, yet they lyrics are actually very sad. You can be happy and sing along or be sad and sing along and nobody around would know the difference. My World was a previously unreleased cut that found its way here. Despite this odd mix of old and rare, there are several gems here. This is one of them. It’s lyrics are plain and simple-mine, yours, ours, what else is there? Yet the three-part harmony is so smart and complex. Great juxtaposition.
Instead of sweeping their prior split under the rug, The Bee Gees embraced it. Saved By The Bell and Don’t Forget To Remember are added here to represent Robin, then Barry and Maurice, respectively ;0). With Bell, Robin almost sounds like a bell. The rhyme scheme and orchestral mix showed he could hold his own. Again hearing this on record just sounds so 1970 it’s cool. Don’t Forget To Remember also has some great lines from Barry and Maurice that just belong on record. (Again please see our Castle review.) There isn’t much Maurice on this compilation, which I would normally For Shame! However, the tone here is the one of crying alone in the dark, which who is better for that than Quaver Robin or Breathy Barry?
My word if ever a song was meant for the record player and the record player alone it has to be And The Sun Will Shine! The slight pops and hisses and slight flat tone of the record just put the mellow sound over the top. Never mind those lyrics of trees, skies, love, and life! The song starts off slow, almost with no music. It’s almost as if Robin were right here whispering in your ear. Then you look at the vinyl spinning and it sends chills up your spine. (We’ve also praised this one in our Horizontal review here.)
Oh Run To Me is just darling. (Please see our new To Whom It May Concern review here.) The guitar and vocal work here is marvelous. The lyric of ’Run to me, whenever you’re lonely’ is just so fitting. You’re feeling down and out, put on The Bee Gees to console you. I love the scene in The Virgin Suicides where the boys play this record over the phone for the whacky girls who are locked up by their parents. It’s the only part of the movie I understand. I think. I hadn’t heard Man For All Seasons before my first listen here. In fact, I need to look up what album it originally came from, but it’s pretty good darn good. Again harmony and rhyme, can anybody do it better?
How Can You Mend A Broken Heart leads off Side Two with its monster self. Barry and Robin poured the feelings about their rift into this song and came out with one of life’s two biggest questions. (The other being How Deep Is Your Love? 80)=) ) The Boys can’t give you the answers, but they make the questions a bit easier to deal with. Like How Can You Mend A Broken Heart, Don’t Want To Live Inside Myself is also from Trafalgar. Where Heart is more reflective and questioning, Don’t Want To Live Inside Myself is almost dark, edgy, angry, yet soft somehow. You almost feel sorry for it, but love it at the same time. Barry’s soul delivery and the rock hard music parallel this feeling.
I’m going to be in tears doing this review! Everyone needs a good cry! Melody Fair again moves you by reflecting its lyrics in the music. When Melody sees the rain, the music sounds like raindrops. Maurice’s harmonizing here is awesome. It seems to also reflect the story of Melody and the issues she’s hiding under the surface. %^&*$% good! (We've also reviewed Melody Fair on Odessa.)
Although they had to stretch for material, 1968’s Let There Be Love fits the track list here. The musical and vocal arrangement is very orchestral. When Barry’s vocal crescendo comes, you wonder how he can possibly top it, but
Robin joins in and the song rises to a whole nother level. Yes why can’t there be love? Let there be love!
Now, ahem, the one rocking testament on Best of Volume 2 is Lonely Days. Written on the same day as How Can You Mend A Broken Heart, the Boys speak of their wives being their only saving graces during the band’s split. It’s so raw and real, human nature at its high and low described perfectly in song.
Next is In The Morning, or rather as it’s entitled here Morning of My Life. This seems to be the version used for the Melody soundtrack. I personally like the original version on the 63-66 compilations better, but the slower rhythm here is ubermellow. Where the original version is more quirky, here however, it feels just like you’ve stayed up all night. The sunrise and rainbow you see are so beautiful, but somehow bittersweet. Now, anybody who’s ever done that and felt that way, did you ever think there would be a song to describe that feeling? I know The Bee Gees rock!Alive (also on To Whom it May Concern here.) starts out bittersweet like In The Morning, but it quickly picks up with its affirming beat and lyrics. As crazy as this album can make you, Alive turns everything around and tastefully flips the bird at the mellow sound. It’s so what! lyrics almost prep the Brothers Gibb for the kick-ass that was to come.
The early seventies were a very slow and mellow period for the Bee Gees, almost too mellow. However, mellow can serve its purpose, and Best Of Volume 2 is indeed a collection of the best. Try and find it on record, then save it for a rainy day. My Mom calls it ‘tin-e’, whatever that means.