How do you follow up the masterpiece that
was Odessa? Sadly, this was almost certainly
not the question that was on the Bee Gees'
mind when they recorded Cucumber Castle. As
you can see from the cover image, Robin is
conspicuous by his absence. The Gibb
brothers had just been through a very
difficult patch, which had started when
the Odessa album was recorded. Barry's relationship
with Robin had deteriorated dramatically as
1969 progressed, until the two could no
longer work together. Robin jumped ship,
leaving Barry and Maurice to carry on the
Bee Gees name.
Given the behind-the-scenes upheaval, it is
surprising that Barry and Maurice managed to
pull off an album this good. (The album's
slightly odd cover, by the way, is explained by the fact
that it tied in with a television special,
starring British comedian Frankie Howerd
alongside the two brothers.) Whilst the album
suffers from the lack of Robin's voice and
the brothers' three-part harmonies, the song writing
is as strong as ever and Barry and Maurice
are on top form. The production on Cucumber
Castle is perhaps
less interesting than the previous albums,
and the group start relying on ballads to
carry the album, something that would be
much more pronounced over the coming years.
But there are some very strong tracks. The
opening track is a pleasant little ditty, with
nice vocals from Barry. Tracks like 'Then
You Left Me' and 'I Was The Child' are great
love songs in the classic early Bee Gees
tradition. The country-tinged 'Don't Forget
To Remember' is one of the Bee Gees' great
tracks and deserved its number two chart
placing as a single. 'The Lord' is an
amusing song on the subject of religion,
with some great guitar work, and
Maurice's 'token' song is the equally
amusing 'My Thing'. It is difficult to tell
some of the later tracks apart at first
listen, but even they grow on the listener.
'Turning Tide' is an acquired taste, but
once acquired, it is mouth-watering.
And that really sums up the album as a
whole. It probably isn't what the Bee Gees
would have done had the group not started
to fall apart at the seams, but after a few
listens, you will love it to bits!
Castle was released at a time when
the Bee Gees no longer existed and
the final album compilation did not
really showcase how many great
songs, including several that were
more up-tempo and experimental, that
Barry and Maurice had finished
before they split. The album could
have had a very different sound if
they had chosen these songs from the
sessions of 1969:
'Who Knows What A Room Is?' -
Up-tempo rocker with a fantastic,
strong vocal by Barry.
'Give A Hand, Take A Hand' - A fast
soul guitar ballad.
'Every Time I See You Smile' - A
beautiful ballad by Maurice.
'Every Morning, Every Night' - A
slow hard beaten bluesy.
'One Bad Thing' - A very strong and
catchy pop song, could have been a
'End Of My Song' - A heavy blues
There was a later remake of 'Give A
Hand, Take A Hand', which was
released on the
Hopefully all these songs/outtakes
will be included on the new remastered
versions from Reprise/Rhino Records.