Life in a Tin Can - Bee Gees

Date: 1973
Label:
Polydor
Click here for full track listing

Where to Buy

Buy CD (released 1999)

Reviews
Nicholas James


After the excellent To Whom It May Concern, the Bee Gees produced an album that walked straight into their critics' hands. At this time in their career, the brothers were often castigated for an over-reliance on ballads and for being stuck in a musical rut going nowhere. These criticisms had been levelled at them since they reformed after their 1969-70 split. But, for the most part, the criticisms were unfounded. During this period, the Gibbs had produced some great music, on some dense and complex albums. It is true that their music lacked that spark of originality that marked the band out from their peers in the 1960s, but that was easily compensated by the quality of their song writing.

Unfortunately, on this album, the brothers are treading water. The album is short (only 8 tracks, compared to the more standard 12 or 13 songs). The songs are often non-descript and the production is crisp and clear, but thin. The album is, in fact, almost middle-of-the-road in style, and that is quite a criticism for a group that only four years earlier were at the forefront of prog rock innovation.

OK, so 'Saw A New Morning' is a lively opener, and Barry's 'I Don't Wanna Be The One' is a beautiful ballad. But that is almost as far as it goes. 'South Dakota Morning' is a shallow country number, 'Living In Chicago' is a rambling, pretentious song, saved only by Robin's vocals and 'While I Play' is a dirge; ill-conceived and poorly executed.

The album is lifted briefly by 'My Life Has Been A Song', a pleasant double-hander between Barry and Robin, and also 'Come Home Johnnie Bridie', which harks back to the classic 'Marley Purt Drive'. But even these tracks are shadows of the group's former achievements and are unlikely to have won them new fans. 'Method To My Madness' ends the album on flimsy, inconsequential note.

Oh, yes. And there is no 'token' Maurice track! Big mistake.

It is clear that, at this period in the group's history, the Bee Gees were going nowhere. Still immensely talented singers, song writers and musicians - that comes through loud and clear - but lacking the vision and self-confidence they once had. The fact that record sales had also slumped at this period (this album did not produce a hit single in the UK or US - their first album to completely fail in this way) was probably the main reason for this lack of confidence. The album barely charted.

Worse was to come. Their next album, 'A Kick In The Head Is Worth Eight In the Pants' was turned down by their record label and never released. The Bee Gees were in crisis. Something had to change, and change it did, but not before the record company attempted to wring the last few sales from the group with another Best Of album...

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Where to Buy
Buy CD (released 1999)


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