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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bee Gees: Size Isn't Everything

BEE GEES: SIZE ISN'T EVERYTHING (1993)

1) Paying The Price Of Love; 2) Kiss Of Life; 3) How To Fall In Love; 4) Omega Man; 5) Haunted House; 6) Heart Like Mine; 7) Anything For You; 8) Blue Island; 9) Above And Beyond; 10) For Whom The Bell Tolls; 11) Fallen Angel; 12) Decadence.

The Bee Gees are back — well, to be more precise, a modest pinch of Bee Gees essence is back, which does not seem to bother the band too much, because, as they say themselves, «size isn't everything». There is no question of the band even as much as lifting a finger to shake off the arbitrary shackles of mainstream production values, but at least they do remember to make some room for the harmonies. If High Civilization could have really been put out by anyone, your average local boy band included, Size Isn't Everything has «Gibb property» stamped all over it. Even Barry's occasional slip-backs into falsetto, not any less irritating by themselves, feel like home after the frustration of the sensation of alienation on Civilization.

Unfortunately, harmonies aren't everything. One listen to the lead-in single, ʽPaying The Price Of Loveʼ, with its primitively programmed beats and synthesizer swamp, is more than enough to un­derstand that the Bee Gees still have not remembered what it actually means to «give a damn about the way you sound» — and the same evaluation applies to every other track on the album. Even the acoustic ballad ʽBlue Islandʼ, where it is the guitar and not the keyboards that forms the musical backbone of the song (and a melancholy harmonica provides the additional flourishes), feels dull, because the melody never goes beyond simple chord strum, and all the mild moodiness of the song is tightly locked within its vocal lines. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the best thing they have offered us on the album.

Occasionally, the band would offer some explicit justifications for the sound. For instance, Robin claimed that on ʽHeart Like Mineʼ, he was intentionally aiming at capturing some of Enya's am­bience, which explains the dreary tempos and «cloudy» processing of the electronics. But the Bee Gees do not have Enya's natural-born feel for this texturing — they have never been able to con­quer the digital world and put it to their own purposes; and furthermore, this ambience simply does not agree with Robin's «wimpy» voice — it requires either becalmed operatic majesty or a dreamy psychedelic hush (the latter, several ages ago, used to be quite within Barry's capacities, but it's been a long, long, long time...).

Besides, for every tolerable, if somewhat boring, mood piece like ʽHeart Like Mineʼ or ʽHaunted Houseʼ, there is a clichéd adult contemporary ballad (ʽHow To Fall In Loveʼ) or bland dance-pop entry (ʽAnything For Youʼ). With the fast-paced pop rocker ʽAbove And Beyondʼ, they register one welcome attempt to incorporate some old-style Motown spirit; and with the album's biggest hit, ʽFor Whom The Bell Tollsʼ (alas, not the Metallica cover, which would have really been something, wouldn't it?), they conjure a puff of religious grandiosity. But nobody even needs three guesses to guess why, at the end of the day, these songs still suck.

And I have not yet mentioned the band's cheeky dabbling with techno — if ʽFallen Angelʼ is not enough to prove that they have as much talent and authority to cover that direction as they have with Enya, then try out the European release bonus track — ʽDecadenceʼ, a techno remix of ʽYou Should Be Dancingʼ for the rave generation. In other words, whatever crumbs of good taste they may have reassembled together on ʽBlue Islandʼ get scattered to the four winds by the end of the record; and ultimately, this is just another thumbs down for a band that made the classic mistake — having conquered the trends of the 1960s and the 1970s, decided that conquering trends would be the logical way to go until the end of time. But fashion isn't everything, you know.


Check "Size Isn't Everything" (CD) on Amazon
Check "Size Isn't Everything" (MP3) on Amazon

4 comments:

  1. Classic case of staying at the party too long.

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  2. So, at this point, I can't help but ask the question: who's worse? The Beach Boys at their absolute nadir, or the Bee Gees in the 1990's?

    I have to say the Bee Gees, because I hate them even in their "salad days". But I'm open to hearing your opposing arguments!

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    Replies
    1. Hey, better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, right?

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    2. Easily '90s "Beach Boys" (come on, that wasn't the REAL Beach Boys!), as loath as I am to admit it. '90s Bee Gees still has a baseline level of competence completely absent from Summer in Paradise

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