Odessa - Bee Gees

Date: 1969
Click here for full track listing

Where to Buy

Buy CD (released 1989)

Nicholas James

Having released three highly successful albums and having an unbroken three-year run of hit singles, the Bee Gees could have just produced another version of Idea. Instead, they took the brave move of releasing a concept album, a double record (although only a single disc CD) with velvet cover. Odessa takes the listener on an Odyssey, a voyage around the world and through history, and in doing so proved the Gibb Brothers to be the most progressive and innovative recording act of the time. It also sold rather well and spawned a major hit single, 'First of May'.

This album demands a closer look. Whilst it is tempting to review this album track-by-track, for brevity, I will pick my personal favourites. The title track is a glorious and beautifully produced story of a ship lost in the North Atlantic and is over seven minutes long. 'Black Diamond', a story of exploration, features a powerful Robin lead and defies categorisation. Barry also takes the lead on a number of tracks, including the catchy 'Never Say Never Again' and 'You'll Never See My Face Again'', but his finest moment is the tongue-in-cheek country-flavoured 'Marley Purt Drive'. If you haven't got a smile on your face after that song, you haven't got a sense of humour! 'Whisper Whisper' is a moving and quite fascinating track about the 1960s drugs scene.  'Give Your Best' is a hilarious 'square dance' track, and three of the tracks ('Seven Seas Symphony', 'With All Nations' and 'The British Opera') are actually classical music pieces with no lyrics.

Odessa is also notable for being the first album to include what would become a feature of most future Bee Gees albums, a 'token' Maurice track. 'Suddenly' is a real highlight of the album, as many of Maurice's tracks would be.

And if you want a song that will send you running for the hankies, skip to the splendid 'Lamplight', a gorgeous production, with Robin almost equalling his performance on 'I Stared A Joke'.

So whilst their previous album, Idea, was somewhat lightweight, this album is major-league material of considerable distinction. It has been described by other critics as "dense and complex". That it is, but it is also incredibly atmospheric to boot.

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Where to Buy
Buy CD (released 1989)


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