BEE GEES 'WORDS' MYSTERY
(By Nick Logan, New Musical Express,
February 24, 1968)
Transcript by Anne Marie
In the cold outside two girl fans keep a lonely vigil. In the
warmth inside Robin Gibb, Colin Petersen and Vince Melouney are discussing whether or not
pop stars should speak their minds. Vince is emphatic that they should. Maurice Gibb in a
black roll neck sweater bowls in, says hello, picks up a record and disappears. The voice
of his brother Barry, engaged in conversation, can be heard faintly from the balcony
overhanging the room.
It is nearing the end of an afternoon of interviews for the Bee Gees, home the day
before from a quick promotional trip to Germany. Vince settles into the settee where he
uncomfortably comes into contact with a pin I had had the displeasure of meeting earlier.
Several minutes later, after much pulling and tugging the pin is dislodged from its
cosy niche and removed to safety
We talk about the groups current single "Words", which is
mysteriously having a hard time in the NME Chart, reaching No 13 after three weeks and now
slipping back one place.
"I thought it would have been a bigger hit than it is," says Vince,
"because it is very commercial as commercial as "Massachusetts" and
basically it is on the same lines. I thought it would have been a no 1."
I say I had expected the same because "Words" is one of the most
beautiful of the Gibb Brothers compositions and is definitely as commercial as their
first no 1. Colin always a man of few words, nods agreeing.
The rock and roll revival is the next topic of conversation, Vince says that when
he was in Germany people kept coming up to him and saying "Have you heard Fire
Brigade by the Move? Its got this great Duane Eddy guitar bit in it"
"I thought great" says Vince, "And rushed out to buy it. But
its not rock and roll. Yes I think rock and roll will come back but the lyrics
wont be as they were. None of this "See you later alligator" bit the
lyrics will be much more advanced."
Would the Bee Gees follow the trend? "We dont like anything to do with
trends," says Vince. Robin joins us eating what looks like a Welsh rarebit and agrees
with Vince "We set out own trends," he says
"We write what we feel," he continues "and if what weve
written doesnt click with us, all of us, and we feel we can do better then we
dont release it even if its been recorded with full orchestra and everything.
If theres something about it and it only needs to come little thing, that
doesnt click then it is out."
Colin does a phone interview, someone puts in an LP of instrumental versions of
Gibb compositions, and Vince talks about the groups new LP "Horizontal".
"Ive been listening to our album," says Vince, "and listening
to other albums to compare it. I find that on most albums three, maybe four, tracks are
good and the rest are pretty well rubbish.
"There are only about two tracks on our album I dont like "Harry
Braff" is one. I cant stand it. But I think much more thought has gone into our
Vince puts this down to the groups high standards in choosing only the best
"I think the same is true of the Beatles LPs. I think they thought
the same way. You should try to give people quality all the time and you will benefit from
it in the long run. If people like you go out and buy your singles you should not put out
rubbish on an LP."
I ask Robin what they have been working on recently. "Weve been doing
some gypsy type songs and an old German port of war song. Not the last war or the one
before, this goes back centuries. Its about the drummers and the pipers and the fur.
Its not a bloodthirsty thing."
Are they being affected by any nee influences? "We avoid influences. We never
look for ideas. You look for ideas and you become unoriginal. You just leave your mind
Vince and Colin dissent, saying that everybody must be influenced by things around
them, even if it is on a subconscious level.
Colin has to go and says goodbye.
I ask Robin if their compositions have been affected by their success since coming
to England. "Travel broadens the mind," he replies "and our ideas have
changed incredibly. What was fantastic to us in Australia is rubbish to us now."
Would they have been able to write their British hits had they stayed in Australia?
"We wrote lots of stuff over there New York Mining Disaster was written
there. So was I Cant See Nobody.
"But I dont think we would have been able to write things like
Words over there. Another factor is that we are getting older and we are
moving ahead all the time."
The Gibb Brothers find it hard to sit down and attempt to write a song and instead
work on inspirations that can come to them at any time of the day.
Robin says that he never worries that the inspiration might go because song writing
is a hobby to them. "If we went on holiday we would probably spend the time
In fact Robin wrote one of the songs on the Horizontal album the day
after he was in the Hither Green train disaster. "I was told to spend three days in
bed but that is the wrong thing you can do. You should get straight back into reality.
"I wrote the song Really and Sincerely on the first day and
recorded it on the second. It doesnt mention anything about the train crash but it
does reflect the mood I was in.
"Words also reflects a mood. It was written after an argument.
Barry had been arguing with someone. I had been arguing with someone and we happened to be
in the same moods."
What were the arguments about? "Absolutely nothing," says Robin
"They were just words. That is what the song is all about. Words can make you happy,
words can make you sad."
With that poetic piece of philosophy, Robin bids goodbye and leaves. Vince and I
talk n about the groups forthcoming British tour, of the orchestra that will be
backing them, and of the new act they are getting together which will include many numbers
from the new LP.
Vince says hell play me a couple of tracks from the album, rushes off to
find a copy and returns empty handed. I compliment him on his guitar playing and he says
that he is practising all the time.
"If I was in an r-and-b group playing five or six nights a week I would be
improving all the time but with the Bee Gees you dont get the same opportunities for
solo guitar breaks. So I have to practise whenever I can."
He raves about a new record, Cold feet by ace American guitarist Albert
King and says he will play it for me, rushes off to find a copy and again returns empty
handed. As I leave he shouts after me, imploring me to get hold of a copy and repeats the
title two or three times so I dont forget.
Outside the two girls are still maintaining their lonely vigil.
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