As Bee Gees fans around the world count down these final few days until the release of Barry Gibb’s new album In The Now on Friday, here’s part 2 of my interview series with him. As mentioned in part 1, this collection of transcribed articles for the Roxborogh Report is a little bit different than the clips that will play on my radio shows and the newspaper and magazine articles I’ve written based on the interview. These blog transcriptions are reprinted purely with the diehard fans in mind.
For Barry Gibb In The Now With Tim Roxborogh Part 2 I’ve chosen a section of the interview (Barry and I spoke on the phone at the start of September) where he talked about how Robin tended to want Bee Gees albums to have more songs on them whereas Barry would lean towards wanting fewer. Barry mentioned a couple of songs that he felt would’ve been hits if they’d been singles, though concedes that one of those – High Civilization – may’ve have been a little too “abstract” to have worked on the radio.
As far as my own opinion on what songs should’ve been singles, it’s a bit of pastime! Where do you start? Unlike a lot of fans, I love the High Civilization (1991) album. While it may suffer from protracted intros on some of the songs, the songwriting, the rhythms and the melodies weren’t just strong, they were really very interesting. With the famous stomps from You Win Again (1987) having been such a success just four years earlier, perhaps Barry thought the heavy, electronic percussive sound of High Civilization could’ve had similar cut through. The off-beat chorus is unique and it’s a song I find myself liking more and more as an adult than I did as a kid for whatever reason.
Personally, I think Robin was right that the Chain Reaction-recalling Secret Love was the best choice as single given it hit the UK top 5 and went all the way to number 2 in Germany. But it didn’t have to be one or the other. Probably the main issue as far as Stateside success went was that When He’s Gone was promoted instead of Secret Love. This was perhaps due to the fact the similar-sounding Chain Reaction (Diana Ross, 1985 – written by the Bee Gees) failed in the States despite being a UK #1.
Speculation from me of course, but if you haven’t listened to High Civilization in a while, go back to it. When He’s Gone, Happy Ever After and The Only Love are all beautiful, big-hooked, harmony-filled Gibb songs. Ghost Train and Party With No Name are also dark horse Bee Gees R&B tracks that seldom get mentioned but are filled with ideas (the drum loop at the end of Ghost Train followed by the lighting of a match, for example) and modern – for the times – production.
Fast-forwarding a decade, my position has always been that Deja Vu from This Is Where I Came In (2001) should’ve been re-recorded by all three brothers and then put out as a single. It had the hooky hallmarks of a potential smash, but maybe wasn’t considered due to it being one of the solo tracks Robin did for the album. For fans unfamiliar with that project, it was a almost like a collection of three solo EPs plus a handful of group songs to create a full Bee Gees album. Deja Vu sounds good, but imagine how good it could’ve been with the presence of Barry and Maurice too.
Then there are the songs left off those 90s albums Size Isn’t Everything (1993) and Still Waters (1997) that rank as some of the finest late-period Gibb songs: tracks like My Destiny (1993) and Rings Around The Moon (1997), though there are many more. But as Barry said with a laugh during this interview, “You can’t change a thing now!” He’s right, but it’s often fun to speculate about some of the what ifs.
The transcription begins with Barry talking about how he feels there are no dud tracks on In The Now:
Barry Gibb In The Now With Tim Roxborogh Part 2: