by Nicholas James
Robin Gibb's first solo album for 18 years
is a major disappointment. The album is very
different from the Robin Gibb solo albums of
the 1980s and from recent Bee Gees material,
which is not a problem at all. In fact, that
is one of the few good things that I can say
about this album; Robin was trying something
new. But the fact that the album is
uncompromisingly bland is a major problem
that drowns the album.
Fans of Robin, regarded as one of the
world's finest song-writers, may be
surprised to learn that he wrote few new
tracks for this album. In fact, his only
real contribution as song-writer was
'Inseparable', which he co-wrote with
Deconzo Smith, which is actually one of the
better tracks on the album (but that, sadly,
is not saying much). The rest of the tracks
are either new songs written by young,
emerging song-writing talents, or cover
versions of old songs.
Before going through the bad points, it is
worth pointing out that there are some
positive points to Magnet. Firstly, the
production. The entire album is a slick,
contemporary piece, that could easily be the
work of a new teenage artist. Perhaps it is
too slick and too contemporary at the
expense of distinctiveness, but I am
convinced that this production style could
have worked with better songs, as evidenced
by the fine first track, 'Please'.
The second good point is Robin's voice,
which is as at home on the youth orientated
dance tracks as it is on the classic covers.
There can't be many 50-plus artists that
could get away with that, without at least
having their tongues firmly implanted in
their cheeks. Robin was serious, and he
pulls it off admirably.
Other than the opening track, 'Please' - a
perfect piece of chart fodder - the rest of
the album just drifts by, with hardly a
single song standing out from the crowd. Two
of the songs are old Gibb compositions.
'Wish You Were Here' is a reworking of the
fantastic Andy tribute from the
One album, but
this version is soulless, Robin dumping many
of the better aspects of the song, replacing
it with dreary, clichéd lyrics. 'Lonely
Night In New York' is not even a reworking
of 'Another Lonely Night In New York' (a
fantastic Robin and Maurice Gibb-composed
track from How Old Are You'). No, it
features exactly the same vocal track as the
original, with the beat speeded up and all
the life and character of the great original
removed. What a complete waste!
Other than the first track, the only
memorable song is 'Love Hurts', a cover
version of an ancient Roy Orbison hit, that
is perfect for Robin's voice.
Everything else on the album, without
exception, is background music. The songs
will waft by without you even noticing. And,
I guarantee, you won't be able to remember
one of them 10 minutes after returning the
CD to its case. Shame, because Robin Gibb
has proved himself to be capable of so much
better. I hope there will be a 'next time'.
Why Buy Magnet?
For the excellent first track, 'Please'. To
hear Robin Gibb try out a new sound. No