THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE 1960s THAT NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD
497) Robin Gibb — “Mother and Jack”
What an unexpected and cool song by Robin! Bruce Eder calls “Mother and Jack” a “calypso-flavored piece that . . . ended up on the B-side of [Robin’s hit] “Saved By the Bell” and “offered possibilities for a new, leaner, different sound”. (https://www.allmusic.com/album/robins-reign-mw0000840610) Dave Furgess notes that the song “closes side one [of Robin’s solo album Robin’s Reign] and on first impression sounds like a cheery number until you realize it’s a song about a family getting evicted from their flat.” (https://www.headheritage.co.uk/unsung/review/229/) and Ed Whitelock says that it “highlights both Robin’s compassion and whimsy as he weaves a social commentary disguised as a fairy tale”. (https://www.popmatters.com/195182-robin-gibb-saved-by-the-bell-collected-works-1969-70-2495510628.html) “
Whitelock gives some context:
By January 1969 it seemed like the Bee Gees . . . and especially Robin, their vibrato singing teen idol — were on top of the world. . . . But clouds were quickly forming. Rumors of drug addiction swirled around 19-year-old Robin, heightened by a nervous collapse and ongoing personal health crises that forced cancellation of an American tour. The actual cause of Robin’s tenuous physical and emotional condition was actually post-traumatic stress brought on in the aftermath of Robin having survived the Hither Green rail crash in November 1967 where 49 people died. While unharmed, Robin was trapped for a time in his car, forced to watch the dead and injured as they were removed . . . . Adding to his personal insecurities, familial tensions in the form of competition with older brother Barry were reaching a head. Odessa producer Robert Stigwood . . . saw Barry as the group leader and favored his songwriting and singing over Robin’s. The final straw occurred when Stigwood released Barry’s “First of May” as the next Bee Gees single, relegating Robin’s “Lamplight” to the B-side. Shortly after this perceived slight, Robin announced his departure from the band.
[During t]he 12-month period of Robin’s absence . . . . Barry and Maurice released Cucumber Castle which, while including the hit single “Don’t Forget to Remember”, stalled on the UK album chart at #57 . . . . Robin[‘s] initial single “Saved By the Bell” reached #2 on the charts, but its parent album Robin’s Reign charted disappointingly and plans for a follow up record were shelved . . . .https://www.popmatters.com/195182-robin-gibb-saved-by-the-bell-collected-works-1969-70-2495510628.html
When asked why he chose “Saved by the Bell” as the A-side, Robin explained that:
Everything I write I write to the best of my ability. That is every song I have written could be a single – I never write A-sides that would be an insult to my ego. Mother And Jack on the flip of Saved By the Bell could just as well have been an A-side. All the tracks for my first LP could be singles.https://www.theguardian.com/music/2012/may/21/robin-gibb-classic-interview
“La, la, la, la . . . . I got a letter in this town. They’re going to pull this old house down. I got a letter in this town. They’re going to pull this sad house down. Mother and Jack, they went to see the emperor. Mother and Jack, they went to see the emperor. They got no answer. They got no answer. Said he would think over his drink about this question on this house of yours. Don’t take our house away from us. Don’t take our house away from us. He made Jack’s poor hair turn grey. He made Jack’s poor hair turn grey. . . .”
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