Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Robin Gibb
Robin's Reign


Released 1969 on Polydor
Reviewed by Dave Furgess, 13/10/2000ce


It ain't easy being a Robin Gibb freak and man I've put up with a lot of abuse over the years when buying Robin's records from the ever so hip 9 Inch Nails type record store clerks(wankers) in my area. Well they can all fuck off big time because Robin is the MAN!
If you don't know the story Robin split from the Bee Gees in 1969 after a rumble with big brother Barry regarding their "First Of May" 45, you see Robin wanted his song "Lamplight" as the A side but Barry won out and "Lamplight" turned up on the flip. Robin was right all the way as his song was much better! This saga was a big deal in England at the time, still as 1969 wound down Robin was an ex-Bee Gee and embarking on a solo career.
Robin recorded a killer song called "Saved By The Bell" that became his first single, it was also a massive UK hit. Meanwhile the two other Bee Gees (Barry and Maurice) carried on with the rather mediocre "Tomorrow, Tomorrow" 45 which didn't do much chart wise. So Round One of The Bee Gees vs. Robin Gibb grudge match went to Robin on points.
With "Saved By The Bell" riding high in the charts Robin went to work on his debut album which became "Robin's Reign". To me this album was a real artistic triumph for Robin, every song was first rate and many of the tracks were simply sensational. The record opened with "August,October" which was a splendid opener, this track is a big time ballad with strings, mandolin and what sounds like a drum machine, "August, October" was picked as Robin's second 45 but it failed to deliver a hit. "Gone, Gone, Gone" is next and it's one of my all time favorites by Robin, this would have made a better choice as a single, on this song he sings "I'm too rich to earn and far too cold to burn". "Worst Girl In This Town" has a nice choir effect in the multi-tracked background vocals all sung by Robin himself, strings and acoustic push the song along in a nice fashion. "Give Me A Smile" is a lighthearted song which is kinda odd for Robin as most of his material is a bit on the gloomy side in fact a better title for this album might have been "Death Trip" (only kidding Robin!).
"Down Came The Sun" is vintage Robin Gibb a classic beautifully sung tune that recalls the first Bee Gees album. "Mother and Jack" closes side one and on first impression sounds like a cheery number until you realize it's a song about a family getting evicted from their flat. This song turned up on the flip to "Saved By The Bell" replacing the brilliant Zombies-like "Alexandria Good Time" which is only availabe on bootleg.
Side two starts with "Saved By The Bell" Robin's monster hit mentioned earlier, this one is as good as "I Started A Joke" which is in a similar style. "Weekend" is somewhat uptempo but it opens with the line "Hello,I'm Down" so the mood quickly shifts into sadness. The next track "Farmer Ferdinand Hudson" is a dramatic psychedelic tour de force that recalls Robin's "Down To Earth" from the Bee Gees "Idea" album, it's a real experimental track that works magnificently! Potent stuff for sure.
"Lord Bless All" is even stranger on this one Robin sings next to a church organ in what sounds like an empty cathedral, this one really enters Scott Walker territory. The record closes with a bang with "Most Of My Life" this is a song that's so sad I've come close to losing it a few times while playing it. If Robin had never recorded again after this track he would have probably gained an Ian Curtis like cult following. Luckily Robin carried on just fine perhaps he just needed to get some bad vibes out of his system.
"Robin's Reign" kinda bombed commercially when it was released and was quickly deleted, but it did receive a re-release in the late 70's on RSO on this edition the final track was Robin's failed 3rd single "One Million Years" which is also just fine but probably should have been placed elsewhere on the record.
After the failure commercially of "Robin's Reign" Robin began to have second thoughts about his solo career and elected to return to the Bee Gees who were also struggling at the time. The good news for Robin Gibb freaks like myself is Robin had recorded a followup to "Robin's Reign" called "Sing Slowly Sisters" which is even better, you can now find the entire album on bootleg. More on that one next time,stay tuned to this channel.


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