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45 Years Ago: The Bee Gees Release ‘Horizontal’

Atco/Rhino Records

In January of 1967, the Bee Gees released ‘Horizontal,’ a masterpiece of stately pop music.

It was a busy time for the band, who were thrust into the spotlight by way of three top 20 singles (‘Holiday,’ ‘To Love Somebody,’ and ‘New York Mining Disaster 1941′) and a hit LP (‘Bee Gees 1st’). All this activity took place within a few months; clearly, the brothers Gibb & Co. were on a roll. Not missing a beat, the band released another single, the classic ‘Massachusetts’ in the fall of ’67. This would be another in a series of big hits arriving just shy of the Top 10. The band were already at work on their next offering, which would see the light of day as January of 1968 became February.

Colored by influences ranging from the Beatles to Baroque, with ‘Horizontal’ the Bee Gees crafted a near perfect pop record. Sessions began in the summer of 1967, with the band producing along with Robert Stigwood and moving towards an even more sophisticated sound than was featured on their previous work.

Strings abound and glisten over the brilliantly crafted Gibb compositions. The album kicks off the the gorgeous ‘World,’ which features a nice pounding piano intro and some killer guitar bursts throughout. The song was released as a single and became a big hit worldwide, but remained only an LP track in America. ‘Lemons Never Forget’ was a jab at things going on in the Beatles empire at the time. “It was all over the industry that Apple was in disarray and that the Beatles were breaking up” said Barry Gibb in the liner notes to the re-mastered edition of ‘Horizontal,’ “It was a was a bit of a send up on Apple.”

One of the band’s finest moments on record, ‘The Earnest Of Being George,’ is a grooving rocker with pure psychedelic overtones. If you told someone this was an out-take from the Beatles’ ‘Revolver’ they’d buy it! It’s pounding drums and fuzz guitars are definitive of the era. Barry says the song was “in the realm of just being as abstract as possible, going for the musical adventure.” ‘Harry Braaf’ is a pumping little rocker about a race car driver that itself races along in fine fashion, while ‘Day Time Girl’ is one of the most beautiful songs in the Bee Gees catalog. Backed by strings and acoustic guitar, Robin Gibb puts forth one of his most gorgeous vocal performances. It’s a hidden gem in the Bee Gee library.

The aforementioned ‘Massachusetts’ is an irresistible slice of 1967 pop that rang out of every AM radio that year. It is practically guaranteed to put a smile on your face and a song in your heart, and at the risk of sounding corny, you can feel, and hear, genuine sunshine come through the speakers as it plays.’The Change Is Made’ finds brother Barry in a very soulful mood, while guitarist Vince Melouney whips off some very tasty lead work that blends seamlessly with the haunting string arrangement. The title cut is psychedelic meets baroque pop of the highest order with lush vocals front and center. “It had a dream effect to it,” said Robin Gibb, “I just love the atmosphere of the whole song.”

Of the album, lead guitarist Melouney said “It was a band effort. We all felt that we were a part of one thing, we’d just try different things, adding,”It wasn’t like it was the Gibb brothers, Colin (Petersen-drummer) and me. We were all in the Bee Gees together!” ‘Horizontal’ made it’s way into the top 20 worldwide and helped cement the Bee Gees place as real contenders. And this as only the beginning!

Next: Barry Gibb Planning Solo Return to Music

Listen To ‘The Earnest Of Being George’ from ‘Horizontal’

 Listen to ‘Massachusetts’ from ‘Horizontal’

 Listen To ‘World’ from ‘Horizontal’

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