No. 41 in Top 50 Bee Gees’ Songs 1966-72
By Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb
Lead Vocal: Robin
Album: Odessa 1969
Single B-side 1969
“I sat alone with my thoughts and laughed”
Lamplight garners added poignancy for being the single A-side which never was. Instead, Robert Stigwood selected Barry’s First of May as the A-side consigning Robin’s composition to the flip, an act which crystallised growing tensions between the brothers and prompted Robin to take his leave of the Bee Gees for the next eighteen months.
Stigwood’s commercial instincts were probably sound but Lamplight is the more stirring song and possibly one of the grandest B-sides ever. Although highly emotional, it sets feeling free rather than clinging to it as does ‘First of May’ so the effect is liberating but still poignant.
Along with the title track, ‘Lamplight’ is Odessa’s most overtly operatic song. Where Odessa is a huge, sprawling, mood establishing vocal overture, ‘Lamplight’ is the big chorus number at the point where the story (such as it is) coalesces around a spectacular finale. And indeed the chorus vocals are not just the album’s richest but possibly the richest I have heard in any Bee Gees song.
Whilst not the best song on Odessa, somehow ‘Lamplight’, with all its majestic fulsomeness is the album’s crowning glory, maintaining a theatrical grandeur even down to its carnivalesque, ‘military-farewell’ instrumental coda.