Barry Gibb & Friends - Greenfields - The Gibb Brothers' Songbook Vol. 1
Some amazing versions, e.g. with Keith Urban and Dolly
The original tracks are just musical history
Some songs give a real Bee Gees flavor
Second half of the album is too weak
Writing about the album Greenfields makes me feel very wistful. Robin Gibb is one of my favorite artists – I feel gifted to have seen him live twice before he passed away. On 8th January 2021, his brother Barry Gibb releases the first volume of the accordingly named The Gibb Brothers Songbook, reminding with other artists of the songs of the world-famous Bee Gees. The good thing for a country music fan: he found the vast number of collaborations in / around Nashville.
Barry Gibb – About The Artist
Sir Barry Alan Crompton Gibb (CBE), born on the 1st September 1956 in Douglas on the Isle of Man, is the only remaining member of the Bee Gees (even though he is the youngest of the three brothers). Apart from the British, he is also holding a US-American passport. The list of success with the Bee Gees is sheer endless, holding a total record of 22 studio album. Funnily, the Bee Gees’ debut album was called The Bee Gees Sing and Play 14 Barry Gibb Songs (1965). As a solo artist, however, Barry Gibb just released two studio albums so far, the 1984 Now Voyager and the 2016 In The Now. The latter peaked second in the British album charts. His biggest chart success on the singles side was very likely the duet Guilty alongside Barbra Streisand, which has been certified with a golden record in the US (1980).
Barry Gibb & Friends – Greenfields Vol. 1 – Track by Track
The twelve song album lasts 44 minutes.
1. I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You (feat. Keith Urban)
Ten seconds, tears in my eyes: I could have never imagined that a re-recording of a Bee Gees track could ever be that close to the original, that somethings reminds me that much of Robin. Still the whole album ahead of me – and already feel this could be a great one. Keith Urban is a great pick for this first track.
2. Words Of A Fool (feat. Jason Isbell)
After the first song alongside Keith Urban was already so touching, this already sets such a standard for the following tracks. Words Of A Fool has a stronger country touch, not that much of a Bee Gees feeling, but a lovely interpretation.
3. Run To Me (feat. Brandi Carlile)
Run To Me has so much of this early 1970’s touch. Again, Barry selected a perfectly fitting voice and artist for this Bee Gees classic. Brandi Carlile converts the song in a lovely duet, partially she is even just leading the track and turns it into her own one.
4. Too Much Heaven (feat. Alison Krauss)
Too Much Heaven – another track, in which originally the three high Gibb Brothers voices were the characteristic element. Similar to I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You, I asked myself before listening to the song, whether a transformation to a duet can work out. The answer is simple: yes.
5. Lonely Days (feat. Little Big Town)
Barry Gibb featuring Little Big Town – I just feel I haven’t emphasized that much what an amazing list of collaborations this album is featuring. It is really like a Who is Who of Nashville – Dolly will also be in in the following tracks. Each artist or band is adding their touch to the song, but it still does not loose this Bee Gees touch. So does Lonely Days – the dramatic and speedy play with musical elements is just transported into the 21st century. And the Gibbs feel to wear boots now.
6. Words (feat. Dolly Parton)
Keith Urban touched me. Dolly killed me. Robin Gibb and his music means so much to me personally. The way Maurice and Robin are reminded of by the Queen of country music is simply unique, touching. Do I need to add that I love it? Words with steel guitars and violin sounds. Can we have that one live on stage soon, please?
7. Jive Talkin’ (feat. Jay Buchanan & Miranda Lambert)
At this song latest, I have a dream: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, some time in 2022. Bring Greenfields on stage. Do it five times, ten times, even more. It will be sold out any time. And I want to be there. The classic Bee Gees touch of Barry Gibb’s voice combined with some raspy, rocking feeling by Jay Buchanan and Miranda Lambert gives the song a new touch. The first time on the album, though, where I very strongly think of the original song rather than the new recording.
8. How Deep Is Your Love (feat. Little Big Town & Tommy Emmanuel)
How Deep Is Your Love – what a classic of the music history. I feel that Barry tried hard to do this song in a great way. Little Big Town and Tommy Emmanuel are a great selection, indeed. But similar to Jive Talkin’, it becomes a different song, a very new interpretation. You cannot beat the original. In my view, this version does not even beat Take That. With Barry’s voice, it is too much Bee Gees. Of course, it would be unfair of the Nashville artists to expect to boost the Bee Gees touch.
9. How Can You Mend A Broken Heart (feat. Sheryl Crow)
My view on How Can You Mend A Broken Heart alongside Sheryl Crow is very similar. I feel that the new recording as such is a beauty. Also because the original is one. But finally, there are just a few voices available, which keep the Bee Gees touch and still add a great new flavor to it. Dolly did it. Keith did it. Sheryl and Barry “just” recorded a good song.
10. To Love Somebody (feat. Jay Buchanan)
There are successful Bee Gees songs (like How Can You Mend A Broken Heart) and there these five, six global super-hits by the brothers. To Love Somebody is one of these hits everybody knows, everybody has in its heart, even if he/she has not been part of the Bee Gees era. These hits are just much harder to cover. At To Love Somebody, I felt it could work out in the very first moments. But unfortunately, the attempt to make it more rocking alongside Jay Buchanan finally failed in my point of view.
11. Rest Your Love On Me (feat. Olivia Newton-John)
After a couple of songs I struggled with, I definitely enjoyed that strong-country-touch collaboration of the two music legends Barry Gibb and Olivia Newton-John. It’s just a lovely melody, a lovely duet and ballad. And higher, clear voices are likely simply fitting better to the Bee Gees sound, I feel.
12. Butterfly (feat. David Rawlings & Gillian Welch)
Again, Butterly as such feels to be a quite nice interpretation of the song to me. It is definitely a nice and soft finisher of the album – but it just does not connect to the great new versions at the beginning of the album.
Barry Gibb & Friends – Greenfields Vol. 1 – Spotify
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Barry Gibb & Friends – Greenfields Vol. 1 – My View
I might not be neutral in this review. As said, I highly honor Robin Gibb and by that, I also found (quite late in my life) a appreciation of the Bee Gees. On the other hands, it also means I was very picky when I reviewed the album. Doing such a tribute can easily fail. But finally it is a Gibb production – and Barry does it in an respectful way. The only reason why the album is not even higher in my rankings is that – naturally – you just cannot beat the originals. Some tracks are just a bit too far away from them as well. Bad luck – after the first few songs I felt this could already be the Album of the Year 2021 – but the second period of this match is just too weak.