Saturday, March 16, 2013

Grooving In After The Definitive Collection: This Is Where I Came In

The Good: Good vocals, Decent music, Some excellent lyrics
The Bad: Musically unimaginative and derivative
The Basics: A good album and certainly better than the pop-rock tracks that were dominating the charts when this was released, This Is Where I Came In illustrates BeeGees can still write.

New to the best-of collection from The Bee Gees at the time was the track This Is Where I Came In, which I enjoyed; I thought it illustrated that the Bee Gees could still make music that was decent, intriguing and of a high quality. So, when I stumbled upon the 2001 album This Is Where I Came In, I found myself intrigued enough to pick it up and give it a spin.

This Is Where I Came In is a powerful argument against Top 40 music being dominated by the buying power of 12 - 24 year-olds. This Is Where I Came In is a solid musical album and when it was released, it never came close to performing (outside the Adult Contemporary market) in the U.S. as the preoccupation of pop-rock at the time was such legendary acts as Crazy Town, Joe and Mystikal, Nickleback and Ja Rule. This album knocks out the albums that the pop hits of late 2001 and early 2002 were on as far as quality and it's a shame that it will likely be one of the last footnotes in the fading career of the Bee Gees.

This is not to say that I'm a huge fan of the group (this is only the second album I've heard of theirs), but This Is Where I Came In is like discovering a lost sampler of 80's music that one has never heard before. It is solid in a lot of ways, save that each and every track sounds like another artist's works. So, for example, "She Keeps On Coming" sounds JUST like a Robert Palmer song. Even the title track, is funkier than one might expect the Bee Gees and while the vocals are reminiscent of the artists, the instrumentals sound more like The Eagles. "Man In The Middle" reminded me of the classic "Don't Bring Me Down."

The serious drawback of This Is Where I Came In either does not sound like the Bee Gees or that the band has evolved so far beyond their prior works that all that it shares with the prior decades' worth of work are the members of the band and their vocal quality and lyrical ability. Because all of these tracks sound like other artists' works, there is nothing musically ambitious or surprising on this album. In fact, this might be the most tame and least experimental Bee Gees album yet. They do not push the envelope, as they used to do. Fortunately, as they do not venture into pointless rapping and thug attitudes, the do not simply embody the music of the time, either.

With twelve tracks clocking in at just over 52 minutes, This Is Where I Came In is a solid pop-rock album that exists as a creation of the brothers Gibb: Barry, Robin and Maurice. They wrote or co-wrote all twelve tracks (mostly together) and their vocals are what one might expect from the Bee Gees, without the falsettos (there are none on this album!). The trio also produced this album, so there is a strong argument to be made for the idea that this is the creative work almost entirely of the Bee Gees without anyone else pulling the strings.

During the 1980s, which these songs sound like they came from, the Bee Gees survived by writing songs for other artists who were able to chart at the time. Songs like "Islands In The Stream" (Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton's hit duet) were written by the Bee Gees. Here their writing is still strong and it is consistently decent over all twelve tracks. Together, the brothers Gibb write fairly generic rock and roll anthems about rock and roll (This Is Where I Came In), women ("She Keeps On Coming"), dedication ("Deja Vu" and "The Extra Mile") and love ("Sacred Trust" and "Wedding Day").

On their own tracks, though, the Bee Gees create some truly diverse works that are well-written and well-performed. So, for example, when all three artists sing Barry's lines "Some people like to send the world away / Some sunlight on some silver beams / And I'll give you Panavision pictures / 'Cos you give me Technicolor dreams . . ." ("Technicolor Dreams") they create a musical moment that is reminiscent of the scope of some of their classic songs like "Words" or "Tragedy."

Robin Gibb is equally articulate when he writes and sings "Embrace" with the wonderful poetics "Through the mists of time, lovers can be friends / The power of the human heart / The secrets in the soul of men / All my blessings in disguise / I don't know / Reunited we will rise." Robin rivals Barry for the quality of the lyrics on this album and the result of the album is that it is a remarkably well-written endeavor.

Perhaps that is the final stage of the Bee Gees, now that one of the trio is dead; perhaps the writing will carry their legacy for the next few years. The brothers Gibb can write and they can sing, but on This Is Where I Came In they fail to innovate musically in any new direction. It's still worth a listen, but it's a tough sell for owning.

"Man In The Middle" was robbed for attention as it is a truly great track and the strongest on this album. Ironically, it is followed by the weak link, "Deja Vu."

For other works by The Bee Gees, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Best Of Bee Gees
Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack
One Night Only
Number Ones
Their Greatest Hits - The Record


For other music reviews, please visit my Music Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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