THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE 1960s THAT NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD
594) The Bee Gees — “I.O.I.O”
One of the great unsung Bee Gees songs (see #291, 353, 354, 439, 466, 484, 497, 570) — well it did reach #49 in U.K. and #94 in the U.S. (https://www.musicvf.com/Bee+Gees.art). To Bruce Eder, “I.O.I.O”, released when the Bee Gees were just Barry and Maurice, is “gorgeous”, “African-influenced” with a “luscious melody.” (https://www.allmusic.com/artist/bee-gees-mn0000043714/biography, https://www.allmusic.com/song/ioio-mt0007499452) Bruce, my thoughts exactly!
Eder goes deep:
In 1969, the trio split up in a dispute involving the Odessa album [and an inability] to agree on which song would be the single[. ] Robin walked out [and] Barry and Maurice held on to the Bee Gees name for one LP, Cucumber Castle . . . . [which] generated several successful singles in England and Germany, including the gorgeous, African-influenced “I.O.I.O.”.
I.O.I.O.” has one of the stranger histories of any song by the Bee Gees, in terms of both its origins and evolution as a recording, as well as the shape that it finally took in the recording studio. For starters, it marked the group’s first conscious delving into what is now called “world music” — according to Robin . . , it grew out of his brother Barry’s visit to Africa, and first appeared in 1968 on a rehearsal tape from the early part of the sessions for what became the Idea album. The song was put aside and wouldn’t get finished until two albums later, following the split of the sibling trio, when Barry and Maurice . . . — working as the Bee Gees duo — completed it at . . . during October of 1969. It was released as a single in March of 1970, and was also one of the highlights of the Cucumber Castle album. The record, which Maurice . . . claimed was never finished properly — and still featured Barry[‘s] guide vocal in place of a finished performance — was one of the most unusual in the group’s history. Opening with a flourish of distinctly African-sounding drums, the chorus overdubbed by Maurice . . . — in the most prominent placement of his voice on a Bee Gees single A-side — comes in followed by the acoustic guitar, and Barry[‘s] stunning lead lets the lyrics and the luscious melody flow out in leisurely, low-key fashion. The title chorus provides a break, followed by the second verse, telling of a lost love, and the chorus again provides a break — Maurice[‘s] overdubbed vocals swell out, with Barry[‘s] gentle “I sing” leading them, for a slow faded amid some falsetto vocal gymnastics. The song . . . was shunted aside when the three brothers began working together again. It was a cult favorite of fans . . . .https://www.allmusic.com/artist/bee-gees-mn0000043714/biography, https://www.allmusic.com/song/ioio-mt0007499452
As to Cucumber Castle, Michael Ofjord writes that:
An overlooked work in the Brothers Gibb catalog, Cucumber Castle is an excellent album that plays to the Bee Gees’ strengths of melody, arrangement, and craftsmanship. . . . Barry and Maurice carry on with 12 cuts that continue in the tradition of their distinctive pop sound. Orchestral arrangements and Mellotrons abound, and the sound tends toward full productions . . . . Barry’s vocals are particularly strong and heartfelt. . . . [A s]uperb eye for detail in the arrangements of the songs give them added life. . . . [T]his is a fine album that cements the Brothers Gibb’s reputation as superior pop songwriters and craftsmen.https://www.allmusic.com/album/cucumber-castle-mw0000203147
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Here is a cover by B3 that was a hit in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland in 2002. As Bruce Eder explains, the group was “an *NSYNC-style ensemble, formed in New York City [whose members] recognized their shared appreciation of the Bee Gees’ music and worked up an act that encompassed the[ir] classic ’70s songs”. (https://www.allmusic.com/artist/b3-mn0000632163/biography):
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