The Bee Gees release Life in a Tin Can
Life in a Tin Can is the Bee Gees' eleventh studio album (ninth worldwide), released in January 1973.
The Bee Gees moved their base of operations from England to Los Angeles to record Life in a Tin Can. However, it was unable to prevent a commercial decline with the album criticised for a lack of innovation. Despite its low sales and poor chart performance, Life In A Tin Can was awarded "Album of the Year" by Record World magazine. This would also be the first Bee Gees album to bear the RSO label in the US.
The lead track, "Saw a New Morning", contains melodic ideas that the group would revisit on the later track "Edge Of The Universe". Most of Life in a Tin Can is both lyrically and musically downbeat, which perhaps reflects the brothers' mental states at the time. Only four of the eight songs were written by all three brothers with the other four being Barry Gibb compositions.
The album reached #10 on the Italian charts and sold 175,000 copies worldwide. "Saw a New Morning" was a #1 hit in Hong Kong.
Robin had to leave the sessions suddenly on 21 September when his son was born a month early. Atlantic Records' log dates the whole album as 22 September, as if they had called off work when Robin left, but this is not necessarily true. Robin returned to Los Angeles a week or so later to continue on into the next album, so they may have added more to this one. The stereo master of the album is dated 22 November, and tape reels with the 16-track masters of each side are, strangely, dated 28 November.
Arranger Johnny Pate was a well-respected jazz musician and arranger whose professional career dated back to 1946. He was originally a bass player, and worked for Duke Ellington for a time, but by the late 1950's he was in more demand as an arranger and producer. During the 1960's he worked on rhythm and blues records, producing a few albums for B.B. King. In 1972 he had recently relocated to Los Angeles to break into film music. The Bee Gees session may have been a routine assignment, or perhaps not, since there are signs of him giving more to it than that. He must have spent some time on the arrangement and dynamics of "Saw a New Morning", even though on other songs the strings are just sweetening. Johnny may have been the one who recruited two jazz and pop musicians, Jane Getz and Jerome Richardson. Jim Keltner is a top session drummer who has been on many recordings since the late 1960s', including John Lennon's Imagine album in 1971. Sneaky Pete Kleinow played steel guitar on many albums made in Los Angeles, and was later a member of the Flying Burrito Brothers. Tommy Morgan was a legendary harmonica player who started recording in 1950. Rik Grech, who plays both bass and violin on "While I Play" had been in the RSO group Blind Faith as well as working with Traffic and Family, and was now in Los Angeles recording with Gram Parsons.