When I interviewed local singer-songwriter Samantha Gibb last summer, she hinted at a new recording project that would surface within the next year. In the months following, she and her longtime collaborator and close friend Lazaro Rodriguez began work on what would eventually become Please Don’t Turn Out The Lights, a full-length album tribute to the musical legacy of her father Maurice and uncles Barry and Robin, better known as the Bee Gees.
In addition to her own contributions, she committed to making the Please… a unique family affair, enlisting nearly an entire generation of younger Gibbs to record their own interpretations of the band’s (as well as youngest brother Andy’s) iconic songs. Under the moniker The Gibb Collective, the finished product was released on vinyl on May 31, and became available digitally on June 16 — appropriately arriving on Father’s Day.
Given the expanse and popularity of the Bee Gees’ catalog, it seems improbable that it hasn’t received a comprehensive studio homage since the deaths of twin brothers Maurice and Robin in 2003 and 2012, respectively. Eldest brother and lone surviving member Barry Gibb, now 71, has been involved in a limited number of re-issues of the trio’s recorded works over the past decade, and also embarked on a solo world tour in 2013-2014 to support the band’s Mythology box set, which featured songs by all four Gibb brothers.
Thus far, 2017 has been a resurgent year for the Bee Gees’ music, with two major stage salutes this year at the 59th annual Grammy Awards in February, and a highly-rated televised prime-time tribute special on CBS in April. John Legend, Stevie Wonder, Ed Sheeran, Céline Dion, Little Big Town, Demi Lovato, and Keith Urban were among the impressive slate of artists who participated.
The momentum from the latter was enough to push four separate previously-released Bee Gees compilations back onto various Billboard album charts, and resulted in a combined leap of 63,000 downloads and 10 million audio and video streams of their available digital songs. A new compilation, Timeless: The All Time Greatest Hits is presently resting firmly in the top ten on the UK album charts thanks to Barry Gibb’s acclaimed appearance at Glastonbury Festival 2017 last month.
Although Please Don’t Turn Out The Lights arrived with comparatively less fanfare than the rest of this year’s big-production homages, the intimate familial connection to the material makes it markedly special.
“I think we were all drawn to the songs we chose, ” Samantha explained during a conversation we had in May. “I don’t think it was easy picking one out the entire Gibb catalog, that’s for sure. The choices were right for each of us. I think all of the family showed such emotion in every one of them. With this project it was really about letting everyone do their own thing and find their personal take on the songs they were doing.”
The title track is a faithful reading of a relatively obscure cut from the Bee Gees’ 1972 album, To Whom It May Concern. Robin’s eldest son, Spencer, sings the first few opening lines; although his voice isn’t a copycat of his father’s, there is a familiar tone and vibrato that evokes him. By contrast, Steve Gibb — Barry’s first-born — belts out the second part of the verse with a huskiness that is almost the antithesis of the Bee Gees’ signature tonal blend. Maurice’s eldest son, Adam, Andy’s daughter, Peta, and Samantha round out the ensemble.