No. 23 in Top 50 Bee Gees’ Songs 1966-72
By Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb
Lead Vocal: Adam Faith
Single A-side 1967
“That could be a million years and that’s a long, long time”
This was given to pin-up Adam Faith in an attempt to resurrect a chart career which was all but over by the mid-late 60s. With its pulsing bass, treble lead guitar and obscure lyrics, Cowman Milk Your Cow marked a dramatic change of style from Faith’s previous pizzicato stringed boy-meets-girl confections. My understanding is that the Bee Gees made their own recording but, to my knowledge, no tapes have yet emerged.
I came across the song as the opening cut on a compilation of Gibb covers spanning 1966-92 – The Bee Gees Songbook: the Gibb Brothers by others [Connoisseur, 1993, VSOP CD 184]. Nothing else on the album is anything like it (though I can hear some stylistic similarity between Faith’s ‘Cowman’ and the brothers’ own Lemons Never Forget. Maybe this gives an idea of what a Bee Gees version of ‘Cowman’ might sound like).
With more conventional lyrics, ‘Cowman’ would be a thoroughly enjoyable pop song. Bass and overlaid guitar sound great together. But the lyrics on offer here skirt around life, death, future and fate with a whimsical persistence.
From its opening of chiming guitars to the closing ‘chant to fade’, ‘Cowman Milk Your Cow’ is prime 1967 pop-psych. Adam Faith delivers the whole thing with a mandatory air of profundity. The single did nothing. Budgie was still four years away.