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Too Much Heaven: Bee Gees’ “Warner Bros. Years” Box Set Premieres Unreleased Tracks, Complete Concert

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Bee Gees - OneFollowing the release of 1981’s Living Eyes, The Bee Gees effectively called it a day.  The band reportedly clashed during the making of the album, and its lack of chart success convinced Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb to pursue non-band projects for a time.  Solo albums and soundtrack recordings arrived, and the Barry Gibb/Karl Richardson/Albhy Galuten team worked its magic on releases by Dionne Warwick, Kenny Rogers and Diana Ross (featuring numerous songs co-written by all three brothers, of course).  But a new Bee Gees album didn’t arrive until 1987.  When it did, it was the group’s first ever release for Warner Bros. Records.  That “comeback” album, E.S.P., yielded the U.K. chart-topper “You Win Again.”  E.S.P. leads off The Warner Bros. Years, a new 5-CD box set due on April 15 chronicling the band’s three albums for the Warner label…and more!  The Warner Bros. Years includes the entirety of E.S.P. (1987), One (1989) and High Civilization (1991), and adds demos, single edits and remixes, as well as the world premiere of a 2-CD live album, One for All.

“You Win Again” was a worldwide smash virtually everywhere other than in the United States.  The single, which announced a modernized sound for The Bee Gees, went straight to pole position in Great Britain, Ireland, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Denmark and Norway, and reached the Top 10 in Italy, the Netherlands, Australia and Sweden. When it reached No. 1 in October 1987 in the U.K., it made The Bee Gees the first group to reach No. 1 in three consecutive decades.   E.S.P. reunited Barry, Robin and Maurice with producer Arif Mardin, the R&B legend who helmed their seventies classics Mr. Natural and Main Course (including the U.S. No. 1 single “Jive Talkin’”).  The album itself went Top 5 in the U.K. and cracked the Top 100 of the Billboard 200 stateside.  The box set’s remastered edition of the album includes five bonus tracks: the demo, single edit and extended version of the title track, plus the single edit of “Angela” and the extended version of “You Win Again.”  (Other remixes of “E.S.P.” from producer Arthur Baker have not made the cut.)

The Bee Gees returned two years later with One (1989). Co-produced by the band and Brian Tench, it was group’s first digital recording.  And it finally rewarded Barry, Robin and Maurice with another U.S. Top 10 hit in its title track.  But the success of One was bittersweet.  While recording the album, brother Andy Gibb died unexpectedly.  Following a break in recording, Andy’s brothers returned to the studio with “Wish You Were Here” and dedicated the album to him. The original U.S. release of One had a different track listing than its international counterpart, switching “Ordinary Lives” and “One” in the running order, and dropping CD bonus track “Wing and a Prayer” in favor of another appearance of “You Win Again” from E.S.P.   (For those who hadn’t yet switched to CD, “Wing and a Prayer” was the vinyl single B-side of “One.”)  The version in the box set restores the original, preferred international sequence, and adds four bonus tracks.  Lead single “One” is included in its edited remix as well as 12-inch Dance and Club Mix versions.  (The dub version is not present.)  The fourth extra is “Shape of Things to Come,” which originally appeared on 1988 Summer Olympics Album: One Moment In Time.

After the jump: more on this new box set including the complete track listing and discography!

Bee Gees - High CivilizationThe next Bee Gees studio album followed the four-CD box set Tales of the Brothers Gibb which arrived from Polydor in 1990 with unreleased material and remarkable, brand-new stereo mixes from Bill Inglot.  The next year’s High Civilization ended the group’s Warner contract.  With its heavily electronic sound, it announced that the Bee Gees were making no concessions to their past but still staying contemporary.  It also took advantage of the CD format, lasting over 60 minutes for eleven songs.  Lead single “Secret Love” reached the Top 5 in Britain and No. 2 in Germany, but wasn’t even issued in the United States; its B-side “True Confessions” appeared as the CD bonus track on the album.  It’s, of course, included on the edition in this new box set.  No bonus material has been added to High Civilization; the second single “When He’s Gone” added a live B-side of “Massachusetts” which is included elsewhere on the box.  A Dutch promo single had an edited version of “When He’s Gone” and the U.S. single of the song also edited it down by over one minute.  The third single “The Only Love” reached No. 31 in Germany but did not chart in America or Britain.  It was backed by a live “You Win Again” which is also present in the box.  In the U.S., Warner Bros. issued a cassette single of “Happy Ever After” with two edited versions of the song, but neither of those edits are included on The Warner Bros. Years.

The live versions of “Massachusetts” and “You Win Again” can be heard on what will be, for many, the highlight of this new box.  Discs Four and Five are dedicated to the first-time CD release of One for All.  In 1991, the Bee Gees released a concert video of that name, recorded in 1989 in Melbourne, Australia on  the last stop on the group’s One For All World Tour.  During the concert, they touched on every era of their career from early Australian recording “Spicks and Specks” to the disco hits “Stayin’ Alive” and “Nights on Broadway” as well as more recent material like “You Win Again.”  The Bee Gees even touched on the songs penned for other artists like “Heartbreaker” and “Islands in the Stream.”  Over the years, some of these performances have been released on various collections, but The Warner Bros. Years marks the first time that audio of the entire concert will be available.

The release of the box set builds anticipation to the U.S. leg of Barry Gibb’s Mythology Tour, which will make stops in Boston, Philadelphia, Jones Beach, NY, Chicago, Concord, CA, and Los Angeles.  For the tour, Barry will be joined by his son Stephen and his niece, Maurice’s daughter Samantha Gibb.  The Warner Bros. Years arrives from Warner Bros. Records on April 15.  A pre-order link is active below for Amazon U.S.; we will update with a U.K. link as soon as one becomes available!

Bee Gees - Warner Bros. Years

The Bee Gees, The Warner Bros. Years (Warner Bros., 2014) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. Link TBA)

CD 1: E.S.P. (1987)

  1. “E.S.P.”
  2. “You Win Again”
  3. “Live Or Die (Hold Me Like A Child)”
  4. “Giving Up The Ghost”
  5. “The Longest Night”
  6. “This Is Your Life”
  7. “Angela”
  8. “Overnight”
  9. “Crazy For Your Love”
  10. “Backtafunk”
  11. “E.S.P.” (Vocal Reprise)
  12. “E.S.P.” (Demo Version) (from Tales of the Brothers Gibb, Polydor CD 843 911-2, 1990)
  13. “Angela” (Edit) (from Warner Bros. single 927 957-7, 1987)
  14. “E.S.P.” (Edit) (from Warner Bros. single 7-28139, 1987)
  15. “You Win Again” (Extended Version) (from Warner Bros. single 927 957-7, 1987)
  16. “E.S.P.” (Extended Version) (from Warner Bros. single 920 820-0, 1987)

CD 2: One (1989)

  1. “Ordinary Lives”
  2. “One”
  3. “Bodyguard”
  4. “It’s My Neighborhood”
  5. “Tears”
  6. “Tokyo Nights”
  7. “Flesh And Blood”
  8. “Wish You Were Here”
  9. “House Of Shame”
  10. “Will You Ever Let Me”
  11. “Wing And A Prayer”
  12. “Shape Of Things To Come” (from Arista ARCD-8551, 1988)
  13. “One” (Remix/Edit) (from Warner Bros. single PRO-A-3753, 1989)
  14. “One” (12” Dance Version) (from Warner Bros. single PRO-A-3753, 1989)
  15. “One” (12” Club Mix) (from Warner Bros. single PRO-A-3753, 1989)

CD 3: High Civilization (1991)

  1. “High Civilization”
  2. “Secret Love”
  3. “When He’s Gone”
  4. “Happy Ever After”
  5. “Party With No Name”
  6. “Ghost Train”
  7. “Dimensions”
  8. “The Only Love”
  9. “Human Sacrifice”
  10. “True Confessions”
  11. “Evolution”

CD 4: One for AllDisc One (1991)

  1. Introduction
  2. “Ordinary Lives”
  3. “Giving Up The Ghost”
  4. “To Love Somebody”
  5. “One”
  6. “Tokyo Nights”
  7. “Words”
  8. “Juliet”
  9. “Lonely Days”
  10. Medley:
    1. “New York Mining Disaster 1941”
    2. “Holiday”
    3. “Too Much Heaven”
    4. “Heartbreaker”
    5. “Islands In The Stream”
    6. “Run To Me”
    7. “World”
    8. “Spicks And Specks”

CD 5: One for All – Disc Two (1991)

  1. “How Deep Is Your Love”
  2. “It’s My Neighborhood”
  3. “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart”
  4. “House Of Shame”
  5. “I Started A Joke”
  6. “Massachusetts”
  7. “Stayin’ Alive”
  8. “Nights On Broadway”
  9. “Jive Talkin’”
  10. “You Win Again”
  11. “You Should Be Dancing”

All tracks previously unreleased on CDs 4 and 5

Written by Joe Marchese

February 18, 2014 at 14:50

14 Responses

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  1. This is very hit-and-miss, often underwhelming with the extras, at least with the original albums – apparently they didn’t even bother using ANY for High Civilization, though even doing minimum research one can see there were some. Nice to have the 1991 concert on CD, though the whole package could and should have been better.

    Bill Janowski

    February 18, 2014 at 20:00

  2. If you want to get really technical there really aren’t any unreleased tracks to speak of, either on the three studio albums or on the live album. While not sanctioned by the Gibbs but still legal due to Dutch laws regarding live material, a Dutch 2-CD set (as well as a separate DVD release) of the complete Melbourne concert were issued in 2009 and still available to purchase.

    Ronnie Olsson

    February 19, 2014 at 11:09

    • Thanks, Ronnie. We’re certainly aware of these releases, but I’ve no objection to the Bee Gees and Warner Bros. classifying tracks that have previously appeared only on bootlegs or grey-area recordings (the latter category of which applies here) as “previously unreleased.” In any event, there’s no doubt that the sound quality on the upcoming box set’s presentation will be substantially better than on any past non-authorized issues.

      Joe Marchese

      February 19, 2014 at 11:50

      • At the same time, I’m wondering ‘Why another box set??’ Might make more sense to release all of these titles separately. I already own the original CD of High Civilization, so that’s one CD in this new box (due to no extras) that I don’t really need to get again.

        Bill Janowski

        February 19, 2014 at 12:16

      • I wouldn’t be surprised to see the titles in the box released separately, a la the amazing Studio Albums 1967-1968 set. That said, for those of us who are inclined to purchase all four titles in the box, it should make a nice addition on the shelf. I’ll withhold further comment until I see and hear the set, but the announcement was a very pleasant surprise here!

        Joe Marchese

        February 19, 2014 at 12:23

      • (On the subject of “previously unreleased”) Oh, defintely! This is the first release where they call the shots so in that regard I can, and do, agree with their approach. Just adding a note on it.

        As a longtime fan and hard core collector the set is a disappointment. In an interview for a BBC radio special on the Bee Gees that aired last year, Barry stated he had no plans to include any more outtakes for subsequent re-issues and he wanted the albums to remain as they originally stood.

        This set does add some tracks to the albums but they, by and large, seem to work within the constricts of not putting anything out that hasn’t been issued before. I have all the single edits, remixes, non-album tracks and demos officially released so this set is… disappointing. For new fans, or those who missed out on some of their output from this time I can see them having interest in this but as is I’d, at best, wait for a price drop or a separate release of “One For All” (and I do own the laserdisc with the so far unchallenged PCM track already).

        Ronnie Olsson

        February 19, 2014 at 13:14

  3. This looks like a nice box set. I’m just happy the Brothers Gibb reissue series has been revived.

    Tom

    February 19, 2014 at 14:47

  4. This is another wasted opportunity. In addition to all the absent tracks mentioned above, what about the single edits of Crazy for your love and The only love (both UK singles), and the Extended version of Ordinary lives. All so many of us want is a complete overview, with all the versions we heard on the radio and played at homestead the time. We’ve patiently waited thirty or so years for them to materialise on CD. And the record company drops the ball again. Don’t they read The second disc, superdeluxeedition and the other blogs alive with people incandescent with rage about one thing or another having been omitted from the next ‘deluxe’ reissue. Frankly, I’d personally much rather have a disc of all the 7″ and 12″ mixes than the double live CD.

    Pete

    February 20, 2014 at 11:08

    • No, all we write is probably ‘falling on deaf ears’ – I doubt they pay attention to anything like that these days. Sad, but not surprising.

      Bill Janowski

      February 24, 2014 at 12:45

  5. I was a rabid Bee Gees fan during the early Atco/Atlantic years…but my fandom was beat down a bit during their Disco era. Tho, I must say, they did Disco BETTER then 90% of the artist from that time. By the time these Warner Bros. CDs appeared, I had all but checked out on them. But my interest has recently rekindled, so this announcement is excting to me. I look forward to having all of these in one box…..and the live set is the cherry on top!

    Sean Anglum

    February 20, 2014 at 12:20

  6. The production of Living Eyes took place one year after Guilty and Sunrise. Its sales did not precipitate their separate pursuits, as much as Barry (as both creative and business leader) reportedly elected to produce jointly written songs without Robin and Maurice (whose health issues were years in the making, anyway). From private exchange between Robin and staff, this supposedly explains his credits on Guilty being limited to pre-demo writing, followed by his completion of Sunrise with Blue Weaver (in a quicker turnaround with less clashes than those with Streisand.)

    Tony

    February 22, 2014 at 22:33

  7. Didn’t the CD box set ‘Tales Of The Brothers GIbb’ also contain the live ‘One For All’ tracks ‘To Love Somebody’, ‘Juliet’ and the 8 song ‘Medley’. Gutted no ‘Ordinary Lives’ 12″ version, ‘Happy Ever After’ and ‘The Only Love’ edits and especially ‘ESP NRG’ by Arthur Baker. But excited for the other previously unavailable on CD tracks.

    Ray South

    March 7, 2014 at 19:59

  8. As long time fan I don’t see the added value of this boxset, as I already have these albums on vinyl and on cd and the concert on VHS and cd. Shape of Things To Come is the only good idea here and worth while as a single release. Beside that, the improved soundquality of the concert might be the only reason for me to purchase this boxset, but I still hesitate. Boxset only really of value for those who did not purchase these items before. Don’t understand why Warner doesn’t continue release of boxsets via Rhino like they did before, including new previously unreleased songs and rare video material. I’m really waiting …….cannot wait!

    Wim Arts

    March 21, 2014 at 11:24

  9. WOw, got theis the other day and there is nothing in the box except the discs/sleeves – NO booklet – no notes. Never been so disappointed in a release!

    dishy

    April 17, 2014 at 10:41


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