Fresh from his triumphant appearance with Coldplay at Glastonbury, Bee Gee Barry Gibb has officially announced he has signed with Sony / Columbia and will soon be releasing his first solo album since the 80s*. The performance with Chris Martin and co was the perfect launching pad publicity-wise with Barry reportedly the number one trending topic on British social media – beating out even Brexit – for a couple of hours after Glastonbury finished.
Incredibly, my last blog entry mentioning Barry has become the 6th most-read entry ever on the Roxborogh Report: 9000 hits in less than two days. After nearly six years of blogging and almost 400 articles, this is pretty significant.
What did it? The combination of Barry Gibb + Coldplay + Glastonbury was never going to pass people by. Add to that the fact that if you’re only singing two songs and the two you’ve chosen are amongst the most famous, most covered, most cherished songs of their respective decades (To Love Somebody from the 60s, Stayin’ Alive from the 70s), you’re certain to get at least some positive feedback. Still, you never take for granted a reception like the one Barry received (and the one Chris Martin insisted he get) from the more than 100,000 fans at Glastonbury.
Click here to read my assessment of that performance of the 69 year old Barry Gibb alongside a band half his age who respect him so much. I’ve always been a big Coldplay fan and admire their quest to ever search for the biggest pop melodies. That pursuit of the pop hook may not’ve been how they originated, but it is the band they’ve become and as arguably the most dominant music group of the 21st century, their success cannot be brushed aside. Nor can the fact they blatantly are aiming for a meaning – or at least a resonance – that strikes beyond merely making nice music. Some people unfairly dismiss them as a poor man’s U2 with their pesky social conscience and political statements, though those critics probably have no concept of how high the praise of being the “poor man’s U2” is.
Had Barry’s surprise appearance at Glastonbury with Coldplay not happened, I was ready to tap out a few words about what the Scottish pop star Lulu is currently saying regarding her connection to the Gibbs. I saw her in Auckland on Sunday and given she was married to Maurice Gibb from 1969-1974 and has recorded many songs written by the brothers over the years, I was wondering whether she might mention them.
Turns out there’s an entire section of the show devoted to the Gibb family. Lulu spoke warmly of her love for Maurice and how lucky she was seeing how “the best in the business” went about writing songs. She told a story of one day being with Maurice and Barry and that Robin was late arriving. Barry had a pot of tea and his guitar and Maurice was at the piano. Maurice played a few notes that Barry then seized upon, making up a melody for a verse on the spot. And right when the natural melody for the verse was ending, Robin burst through the door singing, “Run to me, whenever you’re lonely, run to me, if you need a shoulder…” They polished up the song, called it Run To Me and it became a UK top 10, US top 20 in 1972.
As she told the story, Lulu broke into the song with the backing of the band and it sounded great. She also performed full versions of I’ve Gotta’ Get A Message To You and To Love Somebody. She ended the trio of Bee Gees songs by saying, “everybody says the Beatles are the greatest, but for me the Bee Gees are just as great, if not greater”. Lulu was sincere, looked amazing and was in top voice too.
*To wrap up, click here to read the full press release about the new Barry Gibb album In The Now. A release date in the Northern Hemisphere autumn / Southern Hemisphere spring is expected. As the press release explains, this is Barry’s first full solo album since Now Voyager in 1984, though his shelved 1986 LP Moonlight Madness did evolve into his 1988 Hawks movie soundtrack. Hawks starred Timothy Dalton and Anthony Edwards and was based on an original short story by Barry with longtime friend David English. My favourite song on the soundtrack is one of countless lesser-known treasures in the enormous Bee Gees back catalogue, a track called My Eternal Love. The song has a huge chorus and I can’t believe the opening groove hasn’t yet been sampled. Here it is:
And while it’s not one of the songs she performed in Auckland on Sunday, here’s a Lulu song written by the Bee Gees in the early 90s that always sounded like a hit to me. It’s the very Motown-inspired Let Me Wake Up In Your Arms, featuring background vocals from Barry. Thanks for reading, can’t wait for the new album! Tim
Visit barrygibb.com for more.