THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE 1960s THAT NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD
717) The Bee Gees — “Melody Fair”
The Bee Gees (see # 291, 353, 354, 439, 466, 484, 497, 570, 594) outdid themselves with this Beatlesque and “ethereal ballad”. (Bruce Eder, https://www.allmusic.com/album/odessa-mw0000192945) Uncut says that it is “perhaps the most fetching cut in The Bee Gees’ entire catalogue, glid[ing] on a subtle but sweeping string arrangement intertwined with cascading vocals.” (http://www.1001albumsyoumusthearbeforeyoudie.net/bee-gees-odessa) The Guardian calls it the Bee Gees’ 24th greatest song, “encapsulat[ing] the two competing impulses within the 60s Bee Gees. . . . start[ing] out as parent-friendly MOR pop, then suddenly, thrillingly, dives into a heavy-lidded, stoned-sounding, Lennon-y chorus.” (https://amp.theguardian.com/music/2023/jan/19/the-bee-gees-40-greatest-songs-ranked)
And Donald Guarisco says:
[“Melody Fair”’s] graceful melody . . . . [is] carried even further . . . [by a] sumptuous orchestral arrangement . . . . The crowning touch is provided by the Gibb brothers’ vocal harmonies, which live up to the song’s instrumental splendor by giving it heart to match its beauty: their vocals build from gentle yearning on the verse to full-throated, richly harmonized heartache on the chorus.
As to Odessa, the Bee Gees’ ‘69 double album from which “Melody Fair” comes, Maurice Gibb noted that “a lot of people regard it as our Sgt Pepper.” (https://www.elsewhere.co.nz/albumconsidered/9321/the-bee-gees-odessa-considered-1969-all-at-sea-in-separate-lifeboats/) Bruce Eder explains that:
Odessa is easily the best and most enduring of the Bee Gees’ albums of the 1960s. It was also their most improbable success, owing to the conflicts behind its making. The project started out as a concept album to be called “Masterpeace” and then “The American Opera,” but musical differences between Barry and Robin Gibb that would split the trio in two also forced the abandonment of the underlying concept. Instead, it became a double LP — largely at the behest of their manager and the record labels; oddly enough, given that the group didn’t plan on doing something that ambitious, Odessa is one of perhaps three double albums of the entire decade (the others being Blonde on Blonde and The Beatles) that don’t seem stretched, and it also served as the group’s most densely orchestrated album. . . . The myriad sounds and textures made Odessa the most complex and challenging album in the group’s history . . . .https://www.allmusic.com/album/odessa-mw0000192945
Here, from the movie Melody, in which it was featured:
Here is the demo, which sounds even more Beatlesque than the finished song:
Here’s Lulu’s (married to Maurice at the time) version:
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