by Nicholas James
How do you follow up the masterpiece that
was Odessa? Sadly, this was almost certainly
not the question that was on the Bee Gees'
mind when they recorded Cucumber Castle. As
you can see from the cover image, Robin is
conspicuous by his absence. The Gibb
brothers had just been through a very
difficult patch, which had started when
the Odessa album was recorded. Barry's relationship
with Robin had deteriorated dramatically as
1969 progressed, until the two could no
longer work together. Robin jumped ship,
leaving Barry and Maurice to carry on the
Bee Gees name.
Given the behind-the-scenes upheaval, it is
surprising that Barry and Maurice managed to
pull off an album this good. (The album's
slightly odd cover, by the way, is explained by the fact
that it tied in with a television special,
starring British comedian Frankie Howard
alongside the two brothers.) Whilst the album
suffers from the lack of Robin's voice and
the brothers' three-part harmonies, the song writing
is as strong as ever and Barry and Maurice
are on top form. The production on Cucumber
Castle is perhaps
less interesting than the previous albums,
and the group start relying on ballads to
carry the album, something that would be
much more pronounced over the coming years.
But there are some very strong tracks. The
opening track is a pleasant little ditty, with
nice vocals from Barry. Tracks like 'Then
You Left Me' and 'I Was The Child' are great
love songs in the classic early Bee Gees
tradition. The country-tinged 'Don't Forget
To Remember' is one of the Bee Gees' great
tracks and deserved its number two chart
placing as a single. 'The Lord' is an
amusing song on the subject of religion,
with some great guitar work, and
Maurice's 'token' song is the equally
amusing 'My Thing'. It is difficult to tell
some of the later tracks apart at first
listen, but even they grow on the listener.
'Turning Tide' is an acquired taste, but
once acquired, it is mouth-watering.
And that really sums up the album as a
whole. It probably isn't what the Bee Gees
would have done had the group not started
to fall apart at the seams, but after a few
listens, you will love it to bits!
Why Buy Cucumber Castle?
If you like Barry Gibb ballads, and want to
listen to a less eccentric version of the
group that produced