Living Eyes, by the Bee Gees
Perhaps the most obscure album of the peak-era Bee Gees, this album was released in 1981, after disco was clearly in terminal decline, and a lot of people were just not interested in listening to a new Bee Gees album. That has never particularly deterred me as a listener, though, so does this mysterious and obscure album provide the same sort of enjoyable experience as the other half-dozen late era Bee Gees albums and other compilations that we have examined in our tour of the discography of the Brothers Gibb so far? Let us examine this forgotten album and see what it sounds like more than forty years later.
Living Eyes begins with the title track, which is a beautiful song with ominous instrumentals and gorgeous harmonies about feeling as if time and love have passed one by. “He’s A Liar” follows with another ominous song about people who traffic in deception in their efforts of seduction with some combative vocals and great music. “Paradise,” perhaps the most popular song on this album these days, is a downtempo and somewhat gloomy song about the false promises people make to lovers. “Don’t Fall In Love With Me” is a downbeat and melancholy song about the despondency of the narrator, and a gorgeous song for all that. “Soldiers” is a song that discusses fighting on against despair without hope, with a gorgeous falsetto lead vocal. “I Still Love You” sounds like an outtake from Spirits Having Flown, with a gorgeous lead from Robin, with its desire to restart a relationship that has been broken or troubled. “Wildflower” is a gentle acoustic rock song that seeks to find comfort in creation and the chance of a budding relationship. “Nothing Could Be Good” is a smooth rock song that seeks to overcome the sadness of being with someone that one loves. “Cryin’ Every Day” is a melancholy and brooding song about sadness over difficulties in love and life but filled with beautiful music and harmonies, as per usual. “Be Who You Are” is filled with lush and beautiful strings and a message of honesty and transparency.
What were the Bee Gees thinking and feeling when they made this album? This is not an album that revels in disco cliches that were becoming out of date by the early 1980’s. As is generally the case with Bee Gees albums, there is a lot of attention being made to the sounds of the time, including soft rock and more ominous and dark instrumentals of the kind that were popular in contemporary acts like Golden Earring. This is by no means a happy album–most of the songs in this album reveal deep unhappiness with relationships as well as with the mood of the times, and the growing resentment of disco and the hostility towards them as standard bearers of that age of music likely contributed to their darkening mood. This is a beautiful album, though, if your taste in music tends towards the melancholy, and if you are fond of their later period of songs (I am), you will find much to appreciate here as well.