Although "Odessa" has been stated to be a concept
album, "Trafalgar" seems to be more consistent in it's theme and musical
harmony. Taking the motif from the battle of Trafalgar, this album excels in diversity and
"How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" was #1 in the United States for four weeks but
"Israel" was only released in Europe as a single. No matter.
"Israel" demonstrates Barry's flair for screaming rhythm and blues with a
marvelously typical passion.
"Remembering" and "Dearest" are two ballads that Robin and Barry suck
sorrow from their gut that surpasses anything they have sung before this album.
Maurice also excels with a strong, consistent heavy bass and a piano pounding energy in
songs such as "Somebody Stop The Music", "Israel" and "Walking
Back To Waterloo". He was quoted as saying that Barry loved all his multi-layered
work on the song "Trafalgar" and told him not to change a thing. He stated he
felt surprised and happy to gain brother Barry's unconditional approval.
"When Do I" shocks the listener with Robin's vocal range, stretching his
pronounced vocals to the limit. Robin also screams out the blues on "Lion In
Winter", fading into a rising orchestral arrangement.
Maurice gets his way with "It's Just The Way" with some nice overlayed guitar
Want to rock? "Somebody Stop The Music" pulls out all the stops and proves the
Gibbs can still belt them out.
On a more somber note, I wonder why "Don't Wanna Live Inside Myself" was
released as a US single. It is far too long for AM radio and somewhat sullen. However, it
did get to #52 on the AM charts, so it couldn't have been that unpopular.
What better a song to finish this masterpiece than "Walking Back To Waterloo", a
What make this album so consistent? All songs have a orchestral lushness that carries from
song to song, giving it a rich and appealing feel. Once Maurice was joking that there were
too many strings on this album, but in person he said he felt it was a
"wonderful" disc. Now this is a concept album and it is no small wonder that
Polydor chose to release it on Ultradisc Gold.
- Back to the Battlefield - By Henar
Trafalgar! Either you love it or you hate it.
Definitely I love it. Some people may think there are too many ballads, but if the ballads
are good -and these ones are, who cares! For me it's their best album from the early 70s
before moving to the States.
Trafalgar was the second album the Bee Gees released in 1971. I really miss those
days in which making music was a more simple process and the Bee Gees made one or two
records every year; now we have to wait several years between records, a long wait though
Well, I'm digressing. The album contains the first number one hit of the Bee Gees in the
United States, How Can You Mend A Broken Heart, which also meant their first
nomination for a Grammy award. In fact the song was written the same day they wrote Lonely
Days, which appeared on their previous album, 2 Years On. Both songs were written
when the Gibb brothers got together again after the band break-up, and I guess the lyrics
relate to that process of being separated and then united again. Their significance and
the fact that both did very well in the charts has made these two songs a must in all Bee
In most albums all songs are signed by the three brothers regardless of who actually wrote
each one, but this is not the case in Trafalgar, as it wasn't in Two Years On
and wouldn't be in all their next albums till Saturday Night Fever in 1977. In Trafalgar
five songs are signed by Barry and Robin (How Can You Mend A Broken Heart, Remembering,
When Do I, Dearest, and Lion In Winter), one by Barry and Maurice (Somebody Stop the
Music), two by Maurice (It's Just The Way, and Trafalgar), three by Barry (Israel, The
Greatest Man In The World, and Don't Wanna Live Inside Myself), and only one by the three
of them (Walking Back To Waterloo).
Of the songs written by Barry and Robin my favorite ones are two with Robin on the lead:
Dearest and When do I, both very slow ballads; they sound tragic but I love
them. The former is about the feelings of a man whose love has died and the latter about
someone who is feeling miserable after a break-up.
Of Barry's songs, the one I like most is Don't Wanna Live Inside Myself, which was
released as the second single in some countries. It's also a ballad, full of melancholy.
Maurice does a good job on the title track, Trafalgar. Though the album sleeve
features a scene from the naval battle of Trafalgar, in fact the song has to do with the
square in London that was named after that battle, Trafalgar Square. Maurice sings about a
lonely man who goes there to feed the pigeons. It is a really nice song.
The track that closes the album is Walking Back To Waterloo. One could think again
that the song is about another historical battle, in this case Waterloo, but it isn't, or
at least I think it isn't, since I haven't been able to guess the meaning of this song
yet. The last time I listened to it, I interpreted it as a reflection on the situation the
Bee Gees and their music were undergoing, as if they felt their music, their ballads, were
not appreciated and wanted to show their determination to keep on trying. Anyway, I'm sure
next time I listen to it I'll understand something completely different.