Label: ATCO Records - SD 2-702 • Format: 2x, Vinyl LP, Album MO • Country: US • Genre: Rock • Style: Prog Rock
The song opened the album of the same name. The first version of the song without the orchestra was later to appear on Sketches for Odessa and has a duration to The song was a very long song about the survivor of a shipwreck, and was originally intended to form the basis of the whole album.
Musically it was dominated by strings and acoustic guitar. Inthe song appeared on the 4CD compilation Mythology on the disc devoted to Robin's work with the group. Its title was inspired by a travel brochure Robin had seen.
The geography of "Odessa" must not be taken too literally, although a man sailing in the Atlantic Ocean and the Baltic Sea is as far from the port of Odessa then part of the USSR as he seems to feel in the lyrics. One possible inspiration is the true story of the Ellan Vannina Billy Sha-Rae - Im Gone / Lets Do It Again ship which sank in the Irish Sea on its way between the Isle of Man and Liverpool on 3 December The romantic date of February 14th St Valentine's Day replaced this and stayed, while the year changed to and then for the final release.
This was a major work and it took a few sessions to get a take they liked. The lyrics are written in the stream-of-consciousness style, telling the story of the survivor of a fictitious British ship called Veronicafloating on an iceberg in the Baltic Sea.
The instrumental track is led by the unusual combination of a flamenco guitar played by Maurice and cello by Paul Buckmaster. The song was called "Odessa on the White Sea " in this early version, and Barry identifies the ship in a spoken intro as a Dutch ship called Onstrauss and the date as 14 February The first version is heard on Sketches with Maurice or Robin on mellotron and an orchestral section Daddy Russell - Rapped Destiny is less full than the finished take.
This reel would follow the preceding one, since it ends with what is called a retake of "Odessa on the White Sea", probably the final take of the song, to which the orchestra was Odessa (City On The Black Sea) - Bee Gees - Odessa later. There were no survivors. In the finished version the date has changed to 14 February and the ship is named Veronica. The lyrics are almost identical, although Odessa (City On The Black Sea) - Bee Gees - Odessa reference to the English nursery rhyme Baa Baa Black Sheep is missing at the demo.
He said it was stupendous, and I used to get calls from him at three and four and five and six in the morning telling me the same thing. I thought it was going to be the new single". Stigwood praises Robin for this song as well as " Lamplight ": "The fact is that [Robin] has incredible and wonderful imagination.
This is shown in the lyrics of his composition 'Odessa', which is, I think, one of the finest pop songs ever written". The song is built around a simple verse-chorus Odessa (City On The Black Sea) - Bee Gees - Odessabut with added opening and closing sections, all performed in a stately tempo. After Robin sings about the ship in an orchestral opening, and some introductory lines are sung by the group, the song settles into the first verse and Robin singing solo to sparse accompaniment of rhythm guitar and quiet piano.
The voices build to a big, slow chorus of all three voices led by Robin in an operatic style. For the second verse, the electric bass was added and proceeds at a faster pace through the same melody, into an even more intense chorus, augmented by a cello part by Buckmaster and some high notes by Robin. The extended closing section has a rhythmic instrumental and wordless vocal, building in power and then dropping off and back to the opening orchestra and vocal part until the song is finished.
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