1967’s (other) Psychedelic Masterpiece

bee gees - bee gees 1st

A little over a month after the world premier of The Beatles “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band” saw the release of the first album by an English folk band of brothers who had recently relocated back to England to find fame and fortune in their native land after a ten year residency in Australia. They had actually been performing for close to a decade by this point. And their “1st” album was not even their first, it was actually their third album (or their second album depending on how one looks at it seeing as their actual first LP album début was a collection of previously released singles and b-sides).

Despite heralding three much loved radio friendly schmaltzy hit singles the album helped usher in the bright and shiny but short lived era of the new multicoloured psychedelic age.

According to music critic Bruce Eder of Allmusic:

“In one fell swoop, they became competitors with the likes of veteran rock bands such as The Hollies and The Tremeloes, and this long-player, Bee Gees’ 1st, is more of a rock album than the group usually got credit for generating. Parts of it do sound very much like the Beatles circa Revolver, but there was far more to their sound than that. The three hits off of Bee Gees’ 1st, “To Love Somebody” “New York Mining Disaster 1941” and “Holiday” were gorgeous but relatively somber, thus giving Bee Gees’ 1st a melancholy cast, but much of the rest is relatively upbeat psychedelic pop.” In My Own Time” may echo elements of the Beatles’ “Doctor Robert” and “Taxman” but it’s difficult to dislike a song with such delicious rhythm guitars and a great beat, coupled with the trio’s soaring harmonies; “Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You” was close in spirit to The Moody Blues of this era, opening with a Gregorian chant backed by a Mellotron, before breaking into a strangely spaced-out, psychedelic main song body. Robin Gibb’s lead vocals veered toward the melodramatic and poignant, and the orchestra did dress up some of the songs a little sweetly, yet overall the group presented themselves as a proficient rock ensemble who’d filled their debut album with a full set of solid, refreshingly original songs.”

According to music critic Bill Sherman:

“I was surprised by how tunefully eclectic (1967’s 1st) was. In addition to its trio of Sensitive Guy hit singles (elegantly schlocky “Holiday,” quiet desperation classic “New York Mining Disaster 1941” and the Motown-indebted “To Love Somebody” which would also be a British hit for Nina Simone), the album is a veritable fruit basket of sweet stuff: from the chamber psychedelia of “Red Chair, Fade Away” to the Moody Blues-driven chant-work of “Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You” to a surprisingly garage-stained nugget like “In My Own Time” (check out that “Taxman”-driven guitar), plus several risible slips of veddy veddy swingin’ sixties whimsy and the songs are “Craise Finton Kirk Royal Academy of Arts” “Turn of the Century”. And for those who simply must have their unabashed Gibbian wimpiness, there’s “One Minute Woman” which features Barry Gibb getting down on his knees for a fickle and ungrateful lass.”

Perhaps better known for ushering in a completely different age of music some ten years later via the pulsating dance floor rhythms of 1970’s disco it should not be forgotten that a little over a month after the release of “Sgt. Pepper” the Bee Gees, with the release of their  1st record, scored the “other” psychedelic masterpiece of 1967.

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