BEE GEES: STILL WATERS (1997)
1) Alone; 2) I Surrender; 3) I Could Not Love You More; 4) Still Waters Run Deep; 5) My Lover's Prayer; 6) With My Eyes Closed; 7) Irresistible Force; 8) Closer Than Close; 9) I Will; 10) Obsessions; 11) Miracles Happen; 12) Smoke And Mirrors.
I know it is hard to believe after the previous four reviews, but yes indeed, there is one very good song on Still Waters, very much in the style of Living Eyes and, appropriately, the best thing the Bee Gees have ever done since that album — the lead single ʽAloneʼ. It's been a long, long time since they last tried that simple, open, catchy type of folk-pop with a steady beat and an intelligently constructed and resolved vocal melody, but here it is, and even Barry's choice of the falsetto as chief weapon for that particular session feels appropriate. The slick production is not slick enough to smoothe out the hooks (although, perhaps, the overall effect would have been even better without the synthesizers weaving their way inside the acoustic guitar pattern), and there are even some bagpipes hanging in there, fairly refreshing for the period.
The fact that ʽAloneʼ opens the album on such a positive note raises false hopes — are the Bee Gees finally getting back to their roots? Alas, they are not. The evil curse of the malevolent R&B spirit still hangs over the Gibbs' aging skulls, as it already becomes evident on the second track (ʽI Surrenderʼ — you do indeed), and remains so until the final minute. From here on, generic dance grooves and echoey adult contemporary ballads take over and run in such smooth, slick, sappy streams that an inattentive listen might easily make one confuse the Bee Gees with the Backstreet Boys, especially considering that, unlike their rather shabby external appearance, the voices have been preserved marvelously.
One other song that is often singled out as a highlight is ʽIrresistible Forceʼ, which does indeed manage to escape the dance beat curse and is realized instead as a straightahead dark-tinged pop-rocker, say, not unlike something by Duran Duran in their classic era. With Pino Palladino on bass, Carlos Alomar on lead guitar, Steve Jordan on drums, and a desperately soulful Robin lead vocal, you'd think they simply couldn't miss, but I still find the song terribly boring, with no individual hook and no true creativity in the arrangement. At the very least, I see no sense in the Bee Gees doing that kind of material — 1980's college rock had already explored this «rock'n'roll rhythms with a dark personal vibe» theme so well that ʽIrresistible Forceʼ has nothing new to say, except that it says it with Robin's voice, and I am not sure that makes a positive difference.
Other than that, the only «positive» change is that there are no open embarrassments on Still Waters: be it the schlocky ballads or the nicely combed dance grooves, the Bee Gees generally act their age and cultivate images of suave, trivially elegant old gentlemen rather than steamy sexy lovers that live to move it. Unfortunately, this «graceful acceptance» of old age has not resulted in any epiphanies or career-rerouting decisions — only in sinking into further blandness, which could not be overcome even by the accidental success of ʽAloneʼ. The song is inspiring; the album is anything but — the usual thumbs down, please.
Check "Still Waters" (MP3) on Amazon