Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Robin Gibb - Sing Slowly Sisters

Robin Gibb
Sing Slowly Sisters


Released 1970 on Ladybug
Reviewed by Dave Furgess, 24/11/2000ce


First off I should mention I'm a complete Robin Gibb/Bee Gees fanatic, so if this review sounds a bit melodramatic it's only because The Bee Gees are my favorite pop group and finding this unreleased Robin Gibb album was such a treat for me that it's hard for me to contain myself.
As I mentioned in my earlier review of Robin Gibb's debut album "Robin's Reign" Robin had indeed recorded a followup to that album called "Sing Slowly Sisters" that remains to this day unreleased officially. I first got wind of this album back in 1987 when I read about it in a Bee Gees feature in the UK magazine (aka BIBLE) Record Collector, they mentioned that the album was actually recorded but remained in the can along with 1970 solo offerings by Barry Gibb ("The Kid's No Good") and Maurice Gibb ("The Loner"). What actually happened was the brothers got back together in 1970 recording the superb "Two Years On" album and scrapping all 3 solo albums.
So as a major Bee Gees fan these records became kinda legendary for me, I always wondered if I'd ever get to hear them, much in the same way as Beach Boys fans felt about the "Smile" album , I even wrote Polydor records pleading the release of these albums especially Robin's album "Sing Slowly Sisters" (as you can guess Robin songs are my favorites with The Bee Gees).
Well oddly enough in 1997 I bought some Bee Gees 45's from a woman in South Carolina and just for the hell of it I asked her if she ever heard of "Sing Slowly Sisters",not only had she heard of it she sent me a tape of it from a Japanese bootleg. I FREAKED OUT totally I really wasn't expecting anything at all from my inquiry.
Now I was faced with playing it and having it live up to my expectations which were huge. This was three years ago today and I still remember where I first heard this album, I popped the tape into my car stereo and parked in a cemetary in Bridgeport,Connecticut and listened to it completely. As I listened to it song by song I was totally knocked out!!,this album is brilliant even better than "Robin's Reign"!!!.I was greeted with song after song every one an instant classic. This album had a huge effect on me and it now sits next to Love's "Forever Changes" as my two favorite pop albums of all time.
"Sing Slowly Sisters" like Love's album uses stings and horns with dramatic effects. The record begins with the ghostly title track "Sing Slowly Sisters" this song spooked me on my first listening it sounds like it was recorded in another century a very long time ago, the sound quality of this bootleg is kinda distant but it actually enhances some of the music, on this title track you can sort of imagine the song being played as a scratchy 78 on an old Victrola record player, the song's swirling string section is a real highpoint. Next up is "Life" this one is kinda upbeat and would have fit nicely on the Bee Gees "Odessa" album. "C'set La Vie Au Revoir" follows and it's a killer dose of downer pop in the "I've Gotta Get A Message To You" style. "Everything Is How You See Me" is another somewhat cheery number that features great background vocals all sung by Robin and overdubbed to give off a choir effect.
The record then takes a major turn and the songs begin to become increasingly sad some bordering on heartbreak. "I've Been Hurt" has Robin backed by only strings and a lonesome harpsichord,it's an incredibly moving song that will effect you straight away, "Iron In The Fire" follows suit and could almost be part 2 of the previous song but on this one the mood is even darker. "Cold Be My Days" lightens up the mood slightly and carries an early Traffic/Family influence whether intended or not, the string section adds rich color to the song which again features just voice,harpsichord and strings. "Avalanche" almost borders on psychedelia with a sound similar to the Bee Gees unreleased psychedelic classic "Deeply,Deeply,Deeply Me", on this this one Robin's eerie background vocals remind me of the Yardbird's "Still I'm Sad".
The next song "The Flag That I Flew" is devastating!and may be the best song Robin has ever written, this song is an epic tearjerker that would probably have been used as a 45 had the album been issued, this one never fails to send shivers down my spine. "Return To Austria" follows and it is almost as good as the previous song in a similar style with some world class singing by Robin. The next 2 songs "Make Believe" and "All's Well That Ends Well" are also in the same vein proving with this album you can never get enough of a good thing.
"A Very Special Day" is a very special song with Robin alone on keyboard and voice. "Skywest and Crooked" believe or not reminds me of Syd Barrett numbers like "Bike" and "The Scarecrow" and has a very good time feel to it, the lighthearted mood continues with "Engines and Aeroplanes" which is a song that is almost jolly compared to other tracks on the record.
"Great Caesars Ghost" would also have been a good 45 choice which displays lyrics that showoff Robin's keen interest in history. The album closes with 2 somewhat downbeat ballads "Janice" and "You're Going Away" that brings "Sing Slowly Sisters" to a very satisfying finish. This album can still be found on bootleg fairly easily if you look around, I doubt if it will ever see an official release unless some enlightened re-issue label gets involved, you'd think someone would see fit to release this masterpiece of a record, hell if I had the bread right now I'd do it myself.


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