"THE FLAG HE FLEW"

(Andrew Male, Mojo, December 12, 2002)

(Posted by Robert Kim from Bee Gees Collections)
(Thanks to David Yang)

Robin Gibb: Ambition, energy, sadness.

ROBIN GIBB IS TALKING VERY QUIETLY, looking at his feet. "It's just something I wanted to do," he mutters, "for fun... I mean, you can't always do The Bee Gees. It's not a desire to be a solo artist, so much as to offset some of that creative energy."

He is talking about his new album Magnet, a mix of new and old Gibb tracks produced by noted R&B producer Deacon, a chance to show the world his love and knowledge of modern R&B, and, as he says, to offset some of "that creative energy". But things are a little tense. About an hour ago, he walked out of an interview on Radio 4's Front Row, after Mark Lawson dared to ask why despite record sales, The Bee Gees are still regarded as a joke. MOJO isn't here to talk about The Bee Gees or respect but Gibb's own idiosyncratic solo career. And no one seems more surprised about this than Robin Gibb.

Back in 1969 Robin was a moody introspective 19-year-old, one of a trio of egomaniacal nervous wrecks, private lives magnified out of all proportion in the press. Following their 1969 double epic Odessa, and a barney with big brother Barry over tracks, Robin split from The Bee Gees.

"There was a disagreement," he says, "a lot like the Gallaghers are doing now. We weren't doing concerts, we weren't showing up, we had egos."

Amid rumours of his working with 97-piece orchestras and 60-strong choirs and working on elaborate movie projects, Robin's then wife Molly signed a solo contract for him with NEMS Enterprises.

When dad Hugh asked him to get back with Bee Gees manager Robert Stigwood, Robin told that, "I'll put a pair of cement shoes on you." Robin's family subsequently made him a ward of court. Amid all this, Gibb made Robin's Reign, a dark work of orchestral beauty, suffused with adolescent sadness. His first date, in Auckland, was met with a hail of tomatoes.

"I was watching Great Britons with John Lennon the other night," says Gibb, "and he had a copy of Robin's Reign in his room. I mean, it was just made on 2-track tape recorders, and a crude Binson echo machine [but] you do capture something."

Gibb soon had enough material for a second startling solo effort, Sing Slowly Sisters. However, prior to release, The Bee Gees reformed and the album was shelved. For years Gibb refused to talk about ...Sisters. MOJO didn't even believe it existed.

"Yeah? Well neither did I!" says Gibb, smiling. "There are albums you don't even remember making. We were very good as far as drugs were concerned but speed stuff, yeah, the late '60s was very much in that vein. We only ever did it for creative reasons. I should go back and listen to that."

Gibb didn't return to solo work until 1983. He made a further three unique albums, How Old Are You?, Secret Agent and Walls Have Eyes, often coupling electro pop rhythms and hip hop beats with bleak lyrics, some inspired by a divorce from Molly.

"It did take me a few years to get over that shit [but] that turned into energy. Out of the three brothers I have the most energy that I need to offload."

And now he has to move on. Things to do. He doesn't enjoy interviews, but, he says, he's enjoyed this one. "That thing you said about putting out Sing Slowly Sisters? I'm going to have a look at that. Yeah." And he shakes MOJO's hand, very forcefully. No joke.

 

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