Bee Gees – Odessa

I recently (ok, it was March last year) said this album was as “unlistenable as Metal Machine Music”. I have realised that this is inaccurate. Although the Bee Gees have made some fairly unpalatable  numbers (the I Started a Joke type things) I don’t know if I jumped to a conclusion too soon based on a perfunctory scan. Perhaps my mood skewed my objectivity  but to call this album difficult on the level of Lou Reed’s “atonal” noise symphony is stupid. Last night I listened to a lot of Odessa and it wasn’t that difficult an experience. Perhaps unlistenable in this case means its just a bit shit and I couldn’t be bothered. And now for another sweeping statement that I need to be careful about. Er, its a double album from a quirk filled land of its own ? I really want to like it, saying as for some reason I went on to say it should be seen as a classic album by the music press. I’ll get back to you on this, maybe. Anyway this is a little repentance article for misleading my readers which was compounded by the fact I seemed to give the impression I knew what I was talking about. Ah, facts. Then again an opinion even if it was more generally accurate is not a fact. I’m getting neurotic. Oh the public shame. Kick me and come back y’all.

 

Bee Gees - Odessa (USA 1969)  double LP in original red velvet cover !!

What are you ?

Anyway, saying things are “unlistenable” is a rather contextually based statement. This record for me falls confusingly between music I’m drawn to and music I’m just not into eg take your pick, there’s always tonnes but the songs on this album are not exactly throwaway or filler you might find in many albums by many other great artists. Unlistenable is usually a word used for material of artists that have a very respected track record (no pun intended) who have made something rather challenging and beyond a certain norm where people give it a sort of mystically repellant quality which at least makes it intriguing and possibly cool. Metal Machine Music is a famous example. Odessa on the other hand and this will probably never be my definitive opinion on this is offputting by what seem to be an unpleasing version of the familiar that seems full of crassness you cant get away from. But still, like the Lou Reed record the door may still be open for someone to make us reassess this curious, unique but derivative at the same time etc thing from 1969.

Because Odessa was quite enough of 60’s Bee Gees for me I have no idea what their other 60’s albums were like but this one seems like a good place to start. I was always intrigued by 60’s Bee Gees  but kind of knew I wouldn’t like it much. I haven’t listened to any of their other albums from the 70’s onwards either probably because you get the feeling everything else is just rehearsal for that radio lubricant (the familiar hits) that we enjoy and is integral to the sonic landscape

Looking at Wikipedia, AllMusic etc I discover that its now apparently considered a bit of a classic but I’ll only be convinced when someone can explain its oddness. I don’t think anyone who’s hailing it is making that good a case except saying it’s a well produced product. Its actually more interesting than that even though I don’t like it. Enough already !

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