Barry Gibb – Now Voyager
The Bee Gees took a recording hiatus between their contributions to the Staying Alive soundtrack in 1983 and their E.S.P. album in 1987, during which Barry and Robin Gibb each released solo albums. Barry, of course, had established himself not only as the Bee Gees’ lead singer, but as a singer and songwriter in his own right through his work on Barbra Streisand’s 1980 Guilty album, so anticipation was understandably high for Now Voyager. (And was that album title a subtle assertion that Gibb, like the Bette Davis character in the 1942 movie of the same name, was going to bloom after leaving his family?) Not surprisingly, the result sounded like a Bee Gees’ album minus the brotherly harmonies (though Gibb convincingly approximated them through overdubs here and there), and throughout most of it, with danceable rhythms and prominent synthesizer work. “Fine Line,” which sported a chorus featuring Roger Daltrey and Olivia Newton-John, was the most dancefloor-friendly track and actually got some disco play. “Face to Face” was a steamy ballad duet with Newton-John that wouldn’t have been out of place on Guilty and might have made a good single. The actual first single, the midtempo “Shine Shine,” had an engaging chorus and Caribbean riff that enabled it to slip into the pop Top 40 and the Top Ten of the AC charts. Though not a hit, Now Voyager actually did a little better commercially than the most recent Bee Gees’ album, 1981’s Living Eyes, indicating not so much that the public was rejecting Gibb’s solo bid as that the brothers had passed out of fashion. Nevertheless, he retreated back into the group and remained there.