Robin Gibb, "50 St. Catherine's Drive" (Rhino/Warner)
As one third of the Bee Gees, Robin Gibb had a plaintive ache in his trembling, vibrato-filled voice that helped make such Brothers Gibb hits as "Holiday" and "I Started A Joke" so memorably distinctive. On "50 St. Catherine's Drive," his solo posthumous 17-track set, Gibbs' searing vocal vulnerability is made all the more poignant given that it is his final album.
Named after the address of the house in which Gibb was born in 1949 on the Isle of Man, the intensely personal album was written between 2006 and 2008. The exception is "Sydney," a nostalgic song about Gibb and his famous siblings, written in August 2011. Gibb, already ill, hoped to finish the song with his brother Barry, but died nine months later from cancer before they had the opportunity.
Gibb, who wrote or co-wrote every song here, was affected deeply by the 2003 loss of his twin, Maurice, and much of the album's mainly mid-tempo material deals with loyalty and love that death doesn't diminish. But as surely as there is an embrace of everlasting eternity, there's also a very real awareness that our time here on earth is limited. He movingly sings on "Days of Wine & Roses," the bittersweet album opener: "Time and tide will wait for no one . now you're gone."
"50 St. Catherine's Drive" makes no apologies for its unabashed sentimentality. The album could have been a maudlin mess, but, in Gibb's skilled hands, instead it's a delicate reminder from one who is no longer here to cherish each day.
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