Thoughts on Robin Gibb’s “50 St. Catherine’s Drive” and some of RJ Gibb’s surprise revelations
Robin Gibb’s solo album "50 St. Catherine’s Drive" was released in the U.K. and in Europe on Monday 29th and in the States on Tuesday 30th. So RJ and Dwina Gibb had a media day on Monday and gave interviews with the UK Daily Express and the Manchester Evening News, both of which will be published later this week. They also did a short interview for Radio 2 News and did 11 interviews live on regional BBC radio shows.
One of the most prominent interviews is the one RJ gave to Huffington Post titled "From Los Angeles to 50 St.Catherine’s Drive: Chat with RJ Gibb" which is also posted on the News section of RobinGibb.com as "Conversation with RJ Gibb," where he made some quite astonishing revelations.
About the solo album, RJ said:
Pete Vettese and him (Robin Gibb) started the production back in 2008 and then I started a couple of years ago and we just finished last year. Number 50, Saint Catherine’s Drive in the Isle of Mann (sic) was the first house my father lived in. It was actually the house he was brought back to from the hospital immediately following his birth. This was a project he wanted to do because he wanted to team back up with Barry. Barry wasn’t feeling well at the time but when he was feeling a bit better, they were going to get back together, so he shelved the album. So for about four years, it just lay dormant and then when it came back up that Warner wanted to put it out, we went into the studio and finished the production.
About his collaboration with Robin on Titanic Requiem:
my father had always adored classical music, we both loved Mozart and Schubert, so we teamed up with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. We decided to do a requiem because it was the hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic and we decided to do it as a tribute to the fallen of the Titanic.
About the confusing timeline of Robin Gibb’s illness where widow Dwina Gibb once put the blame on an earthquake that had not happened yet, now it’s RJ who made another surprising revelation. (Dwina once said in an interview that Robin’s treatment was fatally delayed because he needed to go away to take part in a charity for the New Zealand earthquake. However, she was obviously confused as Robin was in New Zealand in November 2010, and the earthquake did not happen unitl early 2011):
It (Titanic Requiem) debuted at Westminster Hall, sadly he never made the opening as he’d fallen into a coma and this was after going into remission about four times, so this was after a long, hard battle. As a realist, I knew what could happen and of course I think he also knew as well—he didn’t write himself off but he knew what could happen and I think that’s what made him strive to do so many things in the last few years. He knew he had cancer for about two and a half years.
RJ maintained in an earlier statement (from July 2011) that, due to Robin’s refusal to be diagnosed, nobody, least of all Robin himself, knew he was afflicted with life-threatening illness until "it was too late" in September 2011. It was big brother Barry alone that said: "I knew he was very ill two and a half years before that," in an interview he gave to a New Zealand radio in autumn 2012.
Now RJ also seems to echo Barry’s earlier statement that Robin was doing his bucket list:
We accomplished a lot, after the requiem we wrote a lot of popular music together as well, those will be coming out at some point as well, he was making films as well in the garden, it was unbelievable. He’s made a few comedy sketches, he was always into the Goons—Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan. He had a sharp wit, a very dry sense of humor, a very admirable sense of humor.
So the chances are we may yet to expect, albeit fragmentary (?!), more music from Robin? During one of our recent phone conversations, Dwina Gibb also expressed a wish to "eventually put out those comedy sketches Robin made between chemo sessions." So, patience, folks.
With regard to the interaction or the roles of the three talented brothers that were the Bee Gees, RJ had this interesting analysis:
I think Barry had the image as the ladies’ man and I think my father had the boyish, angelic vocals and Maurice was the tech man, very good with music.
About the tracks on the new solo album, he made another astonishing revelation:
“Days Of Wine & Roses,” where the song itself is actually a reverse. He played it backwards from a song, “Broken Wings.” He played that song backwards and he came up with “Days Of Wine & Roses,” which is another potential single for this album.
In her liner notes to "Broken Wings," Dwina Gibb reveals that:
At the very beginning of this song there are some experimental otherworldly sounds that could be Icelandic music or similar (Robin enjoyed watching Bjork sing). But it is actually a part of the song “Days Of Wine And Roses” played backwards.
Now RJ says "Days of Wine and Roses" was inspired by "Broken Wings" played backwards. So the two songs are actually like two "mirrored images"?
About "Instant Love":
But the third potential single is the song we wrote together, “Instant Love,” which is quite poignant because it’s the last time we actually sang together. It’s father and son together, sing a verse each and then duetting on the chorus.
Another surprise. Which version is he referring to? We understoond the vocal parts of RJ for this album version were recorded earlier this year at Red Bus Recording Studios in London, but, according to RJ, he did it with Robin. So maybe this album version is an end result of some careful editing of earlier versions?
Asked about his own plans, RJ reveals that his own pop music album is in the works. Also, with his long-time interest in performing arts, he is going to make his debut as a mentalist/illusionist at Children In Need at Savoy Hotel this October.
About the opening track of the album "Days of Wine and Roses," RJ offers this touching insight:
My dad did admire him (Oscar Wilde) for his wit as we were just saying, but I think when he found the phrase as an ode to his friend it kind of reminded him of Maurice and of others he’d lost. I think it was kind of poignant thing because it also talks about the days when they were young and coming up in the world and remembering all the beautiful things in the past. I think it struck a note with him.
Yes, the album echoes with feelings for the loved ones lost and laughter and tears of the days gone by. There is also a repeated wish that it’s not too late yet. Now, some two years after Robin Gibb’s passing, the world of people have the chance to listen to the works that marked his final years. As fhe autumn air is sweet with the scent of fragrant olives, I find myself humming the phrase from "Days of Wine and Roses": "I hope it’s not too late,"
Suddenly, I was back in 1974 and having drinks with a very young Robin. He had long, golden locks back then; Not yet a vegetarian, eating ham sandwiches and potatoes with relish, and on the whole looking radiantly healthy. He was in the middle of the longest Japanese tour of his career with his brothers. He was asking me to count his drinks so that he would not drink too much. He was a very measured drinker. For some reason we found ourselves talking about life and death that golden autumn afternoon. In hindsight, it was only a few years after the fatal Hither Green train crash, and the memory of the nightmarish experience must still have been very fresh. Robin was very philosophical for a man in his mid-twenties. He was deep in thought for a while, and then suddenly pointed up his index finger and said, "There is only one life," then sank back in thought. When I first listened through the new album (well, actually, it took me a few weeks to listen through it, because it was just too painful), I remembered this again and again.
(Thanks: Robin Hurley, Dwina Gibb)
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