Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Barry Gibb - Now Voyager

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Now Voyager, the first officially released solo studio album by Barry Gibb. The 1984 release spent eight weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 72.

Barry has writing credits on all eleven tracks. His brother Maurice helped write six of them, with one of those also featuring contributions by brother Robin. Keyboardist George Bitzer contributed to nine of the compositions.

Side one starts with “I Am Your Driver”, a cosmic-centric mid-tempo dance track.

“Fine Line” was the second single from the album and it reached number 50 on the US Billboard Dance chart. It features a number of background vocalists including Olivia Newton-John, Roger Daltrey, and Harry Wayne “K.C.” Casey; I was hard pressed to identify any of them though until the very end. Gibb’s rap in the middle of this one is not very strong.

Next up is “Face to Face”, a beautiful duet with Newton-John. Their vocals harmonize quite well on the ballad.

“Shatterproof” is next. The mid-tempo track, however, did not do much for me upon first listen.

The first single “Shine, Shine” went to number 95 in the UK, number 45 in Germany, number 37 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 10 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. The song has a playful Calypso rhythm to it.

Side two opens with “Lesson in Love”, a slinky and cautious groove.

“One Night (for Lovers)” has a smooth sway to its rhythm. Michael Brecker is featured on the saxophone. Like the previous track, I could easily have seen this one as a Bee Gees tune as well. All they are missing is that signature brotherly harmonies.

The ballad “Stay Alone” was the B-side to the second single. I like that it opens with just Barry and a piano; keeping the arrangement simple really works well for the song.

“Temptation” brings back the dance beats. The song is solid but lacks that special something to push it up into the stellar ranks.

The B-side to the first single was the heavy and conflicted “She Says”, a song about choosing between one lover and another.

The album closes with “The Hunter”. The song has the potential to be a big, dramatic piece thanks to the orchestral arrangement, but it falls short of the mark for me.

I had not heard anything from Now Voyager back in 1984, but being such a huge Bee Gees fan I had high expectations for this album. Unfortunately, it failed to ignite a spark upon first listen. I might need to give this one another chance at some point to see if it can earn a place in my music library.

For more albums featuring the work of Barry Gibb, click here.

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