Posthumous album releases can either add an exceptional balance to the catalogue of an artist, or they can be disastrous by trying to capitalise on the fame of an artist. Thankfully, 50 St Catherine’s Drive brings a beautiful balance to one of the most talented musicians to have walked the earth.
I have been a fan of the Bee Gees since I was a child, but only recently have I started to look deeper into the individual catalogues of the Gibb brothers. To be honest, I don’t know why I hadn’t explored their music in more depth, as their talents are certainly not restricted to the Bee Gees brand. This is perhaps where streaming services, such as TIDAL Hi-Fi, are essential to music lovers as they allow one to sample an album, prior to purchase. Yes, I will be buying this album on CD, despite having the exact same quality available on TIDAL Hi-Fi. One key reason that confirmed this process, in my mind, was when we moved home a couple of months ago. It took three weeks until a service technician was able to come out to the home and transfer our Internet connection. During that time, I simply wasn’t able to use TIDAL Hi-Fi and had to turn to my own collection of music for entertainment. Plus, I personally feel more connected to the music if I can hold a CD case while enjoying the album. You will note that I have said CD. That is because this album was sadly not released on vinyl. In-fact, the entire Bee Gees catalogue needs to be reissued on vinyl, but that’s a story for another day.
50 St. Catherine’s Drive is said to be the last album of unreleased recordings by Robin Gibb. I couldn’t be happier with how his legacy has been presented and I have had the album on heavy rotation, having listened to it completely at least a dozen times. Upon each listen I appreciate the album further as I marvel at the unique vocal delivery that only Robin Gibb was able to bring to music. Honestly, this is an album that you can easily play all day without getting fatigued. I even thoroughly enjoyed it on my morning walk. When music can remove the monotony of walking from my consciousness, I know something special is occurring.
So let's take a look at the songs that make this album special:
Days Of Wine And Roses opens with a beautiful intermingling of piano and vocals. You instantly know what to expect from the rest of the album. It feels fresh, while also being reminiscent of Robin's work in the Bee Gees.
Instant Love is an instant love for this fan. I adore this song. The musical arrangement is exceptional. There is an electronic sound in the background that is subtile, by really appeals to me. As I’m not a musician, I couldn’t tell you what this sampled sound is called, but if anyone can elaborate, I would love to hear from you.
Alan Freeman Days was written in tribute for Australian DJ Alan Freeman. It is a lovely song, but I feel a little too upbeat for a tribute song. That said, it was obviously recorded with artistic license so, one must respect the approach that Robin took with this song. He also adds a single lyric in memory of his late brother Maurice Gibb. It is a lovely addition and well worth a listen.
Wherever You Go is rhythmically perfect. It is a toe tapper and Robin’s vocal delivery is perfect on this song. Without a doubt, this is one of my favourite songs from the album.
I Am The World (New Version) is a re-recording of the Bee Gees version that first appeared as a B-Side on their 1966 release Spicks And Specks. From my point of view, this re-recording is superior to the original. That isn’t to say I dislike the original, but the increased professionalism, maturity, and vocal development over the years ensured the song is significantly more polished than the original release. It was also the first single released from 50 St. Catherine’s Drive.
Mother Of Love is such a peaceful song. Magnificent vocal delivery and pace again proves what an exceptional vocalist Robin was.
Anniversary has a simple but appealing acoustic guitar introduction. I may love the distorted sound of an electric guitar, but a well played acoustic is equally as good; albeit different. However, while the song is lovely and Robin's vocals are spot on, there is just something that isn’t quite grabbing my attention with this song. I could quite easily proceed to the next track when this one comes on.
Sorry is a song that has a modern pop styling to it. It isn’t bad, but reminds me of another really popular song that I just can’t put my finger on at the moment. If I ever figure it out, I will add an appendix.
Cherish has a fantastic beat and flow. Sometimes that is all you need.
I absolutely love the vocal delivery on Don’t Cry Alone. Seriously, just take a listen to this track. It is moving and emotional and is nothing short of beautiful.
Avalanche is a nice song, but it does feel like filler and lacks a little bit of polish in my opinion.
One Way Love unfortunately falls into the same category as Avalanche. The beginning of the song had promise, but again something is missing.
Broken Wings has an interesting entrance whereby it is very atmospheric as it builds to the initial verse. It then merges into a dance/disco style song. Not bad at all, just unexpected.
Sanctuary brings back that wonderful acoustic guitar. Robin’s vocals really work well in conjunction with the acoustic sound. The overall beat and pace of this track is pleasing, although the sibilance in Robin’s vocals becomes apparent and it is a little distracting. If you don’t know what sibilance is, keep it that way. After researching it and knowing what to listen for, so many good recordings have become a disappointment for me because I now notice it.
Solid is a solid song. Yes, I know I went there, but it is genuinely good. Not exceptional, but not quite a B-side filler track either.
All We Have Is Now is toe tapping and head bopping heaven. Although, Robin’s vocal delivery sounds as though it is in a lower register than he normally sings. It is different, but very enjoyable.
Sydney (Demo) marks the last song that Robin ever recorded. While the album only features a demo of the song, I feel this is the perfect way to close out the album.
Given Sydney (Demo) is Robin’s last recording, I hope his estate also considers this to be the last album of previously unreleased material to be released. While we all want more from our favourite artists, the last thing we need is a collection of songs that Robin likely would not have been happy to have released. That said, it's highly likely that he would be very pleased with the release and mastering of this album. As a fan, I know I am.
If you’re a Bee Gees fan, then this album is a must own. Frankly, I believe every music lover will find something to appreciate about this album. It is exceptional. While a couple of the tracks are a little less than perfect, this has little to no impact on the album as a whole.