Golden Oldies Rachel Johnson
THE LAST BEE GEE
Given the distinguished vintage of so many of our esteemed Golden Oldies – Tom Jones, 80, even boasted about getting his jab on live TV – it is no surprise that the killer combo of Anno Domini and COVID has reaped a grim harvest these past 12 months.
Farewell, then, Bill Withers, 81; Little Richard, 87; Trini Lopez, 83; Toots Hibbert, of Toots and the Maytals, 77; Juliette Gréco, 93; Helen Reddy, 78; and Gerry Marsden, of Gerry and the Pacemakers, 78 (I could insert a gag here about Jerry Hall and Rupert Murdoch but that would be in poor taste).
When a member of a legendary ensemble ‘passes’, it’s a death squared. The relicts can’t get the band together again, not even to pay the taxman. You have to feel for them.
Many really will have to walk alone.
Which brings us to Barry Gibb, 74, the last man standing of the first – and probably last – supergroup ever to spring from the Isle of Man. ‘I’m the eldest, so it probably should have been me first,’ Barry told the Times. ‘I guess it’s a form of guilt. Survivor’s guilt.’
After the death of his last sibling, he was sitting feeling sorry for himself, and his wife, Linda, told him to ‘get off his arse’. This wifely kick in the pants led to a solo album in 2016. Barry then played the Legends stage at Glasto in 2017 to an audience of fans dressed in tribute wigs, false teeth and tight white satin – and now there’s a new album.
Greenfields was recorded in Nashville, and comprises 12 tracks of Barry duetting some of the band’s greatest hits with some of the starriest and campest names in country music. It’s a real lockdown treat, even though some of the songs are not quite as foot-tappin’ as the originals ( Jive Talkin’ with Jay Buchanan and Adam Lambert is almost funereal).
He lets his guests shine through, even ham it up. Keith Urban and Dolly Parton both try to steal the show, but don’t manage it (Barry still stands alone, technically). Sheryl Crow and Brandi Carlile both make storming cameos.
Gibb’s ambition is to play Greenfields live, pandemic permitting, with as many of his album guests as he can. He wants and needs to be back on stage, he says, because that’s when he feels ‘the presence’ of his late brothers most.
Bring it on. Until then, we just have to carry on Stayin’ Alive if we can, wearing our gold lamé blouson jackets from the back of the cupboard, mourning all we have lost.
Greenfields: The Gibb Brothers’ Songbook Vol 1, EMI