Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New Oldies - Timber! by The Bee Gees

Robin Gibb passed away in London last Sunday, 20 May 2012, following a battle with liver cancer. He was 62. Robin's twin brother Maurice died in 2003 of acute intestinal problems, a fate that Robin also suffered in 2010. Their baby brother, pop idol Andy Gibb, suffered a heart ailment and died at the young age of 30 in 1988. Now there is only one surviving member of Australia's legendary Bee Gees, their older brother, Barry Gibb. Robin's passing marks the third loss of a musical-prodigy child for mother Barbara Gibb, who is now 91 years old and living in California. She believes that her family may be cursed. Robin also believed this and wondered if the tragic deaths in his family were some kind of Karma payback for the phenomenal success they enjoyed.

Everyone knows by now that The Bee Gees name comes from the initials B-G, which stands for The Brothers Gibb. The name is also significant because they happen to be the initials of two gentlemen who helped launch the career of these three English lads. They were discovered by a race car driver named Bill Goode. He brought them to the attention of a disc jockey in Sydney named Bill Gates (just like the Microsoft guy). And, of course, the letters B-G are also the initials of Barry Gibb himself. The boys started singing and performing in their home town of Manchester England when older brother Barry was only nine years of age. They invited their older sister, Lesley, to join their group, but she wasn't interested. They first called their group The Rattlesnakes. For a time they became known as Wee Johnny Hays And The Blue Cats. Just after the birth of Andy Gibb, the family left for Australia on a cruise ship. Their passage cost only 20 Pounds. Their final performance in England took place at the Russel Street Club. Wouldn't you love to jump into a time machine and go back to hear that concert?

This uptempo Teener comes from one of the first singles ever made by The Bee Gees. It was made just a year after the family moved from England to Brisbane, Australia. At the time, the boys lived in a poor neighborhood called Cribb Island, later demolished to make room for the expansion of the Brisbane airport. The song was recorded at the Festival Recording Studio in Sydney in the summer of 1963. Just sixteen at the time, young Barry Gibb plays guitar (his first time on record) and sings the lead vocal, with backing vocals from his 13-year old twin brothers, Robin and Maurice. Although it may sound like there's a full studio orchestra backing them up, it's really just a single violin, upright string bass, and drums. Engineer Robert Iredale managed to coax a much fuller sound out of this session using some creative echo and overdubbing. It was released on the Leedon label, which was founded in 1958 by an American named Lee Gordon and sold to Festival Records in 1960.

Here's Timber! by The Bee Gees on Leedon 412 from 1963:

You'll hear every song the Bee Gees ever released through 1973, along with many others they composed or contributed backing vocals, when you listen to MusicMaster Oldies. Rest in Peace, brother Robin.

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