Vijftig jaar geleden zat er een haar in de boter bij Robin Gibb enerzijds en zijn broers Barry en Maurice anderzijds. Een pijnlijke episode die er wel heeft voor gezorgd dat beide partijen elkaar beconcureerden met schitterende slows. Voor Robin was dat “Saved by the bell” en de twee broertjes, voor de gelegenheid aangevuld met ene Peter Mason (*), brachten morgen precies vijftig jaar geleden het hartverscheurende “Don’t forget to remember” uit.
The song’s genre is country like much of what Maurice and Barry wrote together without input from their brother, Robin, but all three brothers have written in the medium at other times, most notably the Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton hit “Islands in the Stream”, and its parent album “Eyes That See in the Dark”.
The song was recorded at 7 May 1969 same day as the unreleased track “Who Knows What a Room Is”. Barry Gibb’s lead vocal was in a lower register than usual. The song’s lyrics follow the country-song tradition of romantic laments with its tearful first-person lyrics about a man haunted by a failed love affair he can’t put out of his mind. Its melody matches the yearning quality of the lyrics, especially on the chorus, which underpins the forlorn wish “Don’t forget to remember me/And the love that used to be” with glorious runs of ascending notes. On paper, the song seems applicable to the group’s usual pop style but their recording uses country-music elements to carry it into that genre, a prominent acoustic guitar cuts through the background orchestration and Barry Gibb adds a Nashville-inspired twang to his vocal.
“Saved by the Bell” is a 1969 single written and recorded by Robin Gibb. It was released in June 1969 and was the lead single on Gibb’s debut album “Robin’s Reign”, released in early 1970. The song gained commercial success in Europe, but was a commercial failure in the US.
Music critic Nicholas James says: “‘Saved by the Bell’ falls into this category, being heavily influenced by the Bee Gees track ‘I Started a Joke’. It has a powerful Robin Gibb lead vocal and an infectious melody, although the lyrics are somewhat simplistic (possibly even banal).”
Gibb announced his solo plans on 19 March 1969, on the same day the Bee Gees recorded “Tomorrow Tomorrow” and two other songs. “Saved by the Bell” was recorded around March 1969 at De Lane Lea Studios, along with three other songs: “Mother and Jack”, “Alexandria Good Time” and “Janice”.
Fellow Bee Gee and twin brother Maurice Gibb worked on “Saved by the Bell”, playing piano, adding vocals, and recording organ and guitar, accompanied by a drum machine. The demo was then sent to Kenny Clayton, who arranged the song with a big singalong chorus. The orchestra section of the song was arranged by John Fiddy.
“Saved by the Bell” was released as a single on 27 June 1969, with “Mother and Jack” as the B-side. On its release, the song competed directly with the Bee Gees’ single “Don’t Forget to Remember”. “Saved by the Bell” rose to number two in the UK Singles Chart. It also hit number one in South Africa, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Ireland. “Saved by the Bell” held the number-one slot in South Africa for three weeks, in the Netherlands for six weeks, and in New Zealand for 1 week. It didn’t fare as well in the US, only reaching #87.
“Saved by the Bell” was re-released by Old Gold Records in 1988 with “Words” (Bee Gees) as the B-side. It was re-released in Spain by Polydor as the B-side of “Tomorrow Tomorrow” (Bee Gees). Nu staat het op bijna alle compilatie-CD’s met hits van de Bee Gees. Notable covers of “Saved by the Bell” include Elton John’s version, zo schrijft Wikipedia, wat me wel even deed schrikken, want die versie kende ik helemaal niet. Een beetje zoekwerk op het internet levert echter alweer op dat Wiki hier fameus uit de bocht gaat. Zo kan men wel een tribute van Elton terugvinden, precies op de dag van het overlijden van Robin, maar hij speelt wel een nummer van zichzelf (“Don’t let the sun go down on me”). Nog wat meer zoekwerk levert wel degelijk een nummer op van Elton John met de titel “Saved by the bell”, maar ook dit is een nummer door hemzelf geschreven dat niets vandoen heeft met Robin Gibb.
Ronny De Schepper
(*) Volgens Wikipedia zijn diens vocals er nadien weer afgehaald! Alleszins is de derde man op het hoesfotootje niet Mason, maar de jarenlange drummer Colin Petersen.