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


Hard time

We talk about the group’s 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? It’s got this great Duane Eddy guitar bit in it"

"I thought great" says Vince, "And rushed out to buy it. But it’s not rock and roll. Yes I think rock and roll will come back but the lyrics won’t 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 don’t 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 we’ve written doesn’t click with us, all of us, and we feel we can do better then we don’t release it even if it’s been recorded with full orchestra and everything. If there’s something about it and it only needs to come little thing, that doesn’t 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 group’s new LP "Horizontal".

"I’ve 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 don’t like "Harry Braff" is one. I can’t stand it. But I think much more thought has gone into our album."

Vince puts this down to the group’s high standards in choosing only the best material.


Same way

"I think the same is true of the Beatles LP’s. 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. "We’ve 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. It’s about the drummers and the pipers and the fur. It’s 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 open."

Vince and Colin dissent, saying that everybody must be influenced by things around them, even if it is on a subconscious level.


New idea

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 Can’t See Nobody’.

"But I don’t 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 writing."

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 doesn’t 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 group’s 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.


Rushes off

Vince says he’ll 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 don’t 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 don’t forget.

Outside the two girls are still maintaining their lonely vigil.

Back to List of Articles

1