Very, very good pop – Album review “50 St. Catherine’s Drive”
Here is another excellent review of Robin Gibb’s new album "50 St. Catherine’s Drive" by a musician/fan Robin Setty. He starts by clarifying his position in this manner:
The review aims to be as objective as possible. I’m trying to divorce myself from the circumstances surrounding its release.
We agree that at the end of the day this is the only way that we can try to review this album if we respect Robin Gibb’s talent and his achievement as an artist at all.
The album is orders of magnitude better than the ill-conceived "Magnet" Project. It’s a really quick burner. It takes very few plays to get into it. It’s full of incredibly strong hooks that are almost instantly etched into the mind. It’s completely unpretentious pop – aiming to be no more than that. But it’s very, very good pop.
Although produced by the same producer as the ‘Robin Gibb’ tracks on the last Bee Gees album, the production is not as strong – maybe at times it’s a little thin. There aren’t as many interesting production
tricks as on “This is Where I Came in”. Maybe that was intentional or maybe it was not possible to spend as much time.
Robin’s voice is less ‘unique’ than it used to be. But this is a continuation of a trend that started from ESP: less vibrato, less nasal, much purer and a little lower. Some may find that less “Robin”. I actually prefer it – though I would say that it’s slightly weaker than on Magnet. There are times when his voice cracks, but this only goes to add to the emotion of the performances and I’m sure it’s deliberate.
Other points of interest:
‘Alan Freeman Days’ really should have been a single, when it first came out It’s got a wonderful acoustic pop feel and for no reason beyond the subject of the song, at least in the UK, it would have received plenty of airplay.
I’m not a great fan of what they now call “R&B” but ‘Cherish’ is much better than any of the R&B tracks taken off "Magnet, " so clearly Robin picked up something there. ‘Broken Wings’ is a really strong dance
track – again not a genre that always appeals to me (though I also really liked ‘Promise the Earth’). It also has a synth sound at the end that I swear comes off the “Secret Agent” album! Talking of older Robin Gibb albums, Robin’s singing on the chorus of ‘One Way Love’ takes me back to the “How old are you?” album. Unfortunately, it’s only a demo vocal and leaves something to be desired in verses, which is shame because it’s a really good track – reminiscent in style of the tracks on the “Sunrise” album Robin Gibb wrote to Jimmy Ruffin in 1980.
Other notable tracks:
‘Days of Wine and Roses’ – A beautiful opening track. So poignant and reflective, with that lovely ‘Elan Vannin’ pipes sound sound that belongs that truly represents the album’s title.
‘Don’t Cry Alone’ – great song from The Titanic Requiem and it’s lovely to have at least one track here with real orchestra among what’s otherwise a fairly electric sound.
‘Sanctuary’ – Probably the most innovative track on the album, but it’s the cheerful aspect of the song that gets more and more uplifting as it goes on.
I don’t think there are any weak tracks on the album at all, though with sixteen completed songs it would still be a full album without ‘Anniversary’, ‘Avalanche’, ‘Solid’ and ‘Instant Love’. ‘Instant Love’ is probably my least favourite. This has nothing to do with the vocals of RJ, which I think are very strong. I just think the chorus is a bit dull. I also think the lyrics on ‘Solid’…well aren’t that solid!
But if some of the album’s lyrics aren’t strong (and I’m still struggling to come to terms with “The magic would emerge, on Radio Luxembourg!”) those on the final track, “All We Have Is Now” are just beautiful. In fact, I don’t really think anything I write can do justice to that song, the context surrounding it and therefore what it means to me. I must have played the song twenty times already and I still get a shiver at the back of my neck when I hear “All we have is now / as we fly through space and time / We’re only visitors / and nothing’s by design.” It’s early days, but this might just turn out to be my favourite solo Gibb song….ever.
So, marks out of ten? At least 8.
One final thought: To think that Robin Gibb’s last two projects were "50 St Catherine’s Drive" and the stunning “Titanic Requiem” just shows what an unbelievable versatile talent this man was.
This review was first posted on Words and Music Fans of Brothers Gibb better known among fans as Words Mailing List, one of the best places in the cyber sapce to discuss anything and everything Brothers Gibb, and reproduced here in its entirety with the kind permission of its author.
(Thanks: Robin Setty, Words Mailing List)
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