No. 82: ‘Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You’

bee gees in 1967 psychedelic eraTired of being referred to as “the Australian Beatles,” the brothers Gibb moved back to England and made a record that sounded remarkably like … the Beatles.

The album “Bee Gees’ 1st” kept up with the times — and the Fabs — by employing a Mellotron, an early tape-loop machine later closely identified with the Moody Blues.

The Beatles had experimented with the electronic instrument on “Tomorrow Never Knows” and, more importantly, on “Strawberry Fields Forever,” which was released to global acclaim in February 1967.

A month later, the relatively unknown Bee Gees entered a London studio. Maurice Gibb quickly learned the instrument, a skill put to use on the brothers’ oddly titled “Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You.”

The song starts off in a strange, far-from-promising place. The solemn intro sounds something like a Gregorian chant atop Mozart’s “Requiem.”

“Oh solo dominique,” Barry and Robin Gibb intone in their deepest young voices. (Best guess: Something about “the only lord”).

Drummer Colin Petersen, an Australian and official Bee Gee, kicks off the rock segment, taking his drum cue from Ringo Starr’s psychedelic-era playing — the spinal-tapping back beat heard on “Rain” and “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

Barry Gibb starts in with this Lennon-esque verse:

Take this in hand
Said he who stands
Behind the chair
A broken table there

Confused? Wait:

“Every Christian lion-hearted man will show you,” comes the chorus as revelation, riding in on a swell of portentousness.

Heavy. But wait. Here come those monks again …

What should be an embarrassment straight out of the Electric Prunes’ “Mass in F Minor” — or even the Ruttles’ psychedelic pratfalls — turns out to be bloody brilliant. A song haunting and heavy, artfully leavened with ’60s Britpop.

The Beatles suffered endless imitations, but this was something else — a distillation of the four elders’ heady brew. “Every Christian” brings to mind a half dozen 1966-67 Beatles songs, but just try to figure out which one.

Although only a B-side (to the fine “Holiday”), “Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You” ended up on the 1969 “Best of the Bee Gees” album.

Perhaps by divine intervention, the song enjoyed a long afterlife as a hip but obscure cover:

Alt rockers the Posies used the song for several promo projects in 1996 (“Limitless Expressions: The B-Sides”). About the same time, New York punkers Alice Donut served up a high-calorie version.

Psychedelic rockers Flaming Lips wrenched the psychedelic goodness out of “Every Christian” using tortured guitars — sometimes employing it as the intro to “Shine on Sweet Jesus.”

Goth/grunge refugees Goon Moon worked up a muscular “Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You” for their 2007 album “Licker’s Last Leg.” Half of the duo, Jeordie White (aka Marilyn Manson bassist Twiggy Ramirez), was a big fan of the song. “Where all those (Britpop) influences came from is really early Bee Gees,” he said.

And Barry Gibb himself resurrected the song in 2012, as he performed in South Florida, the last Bee Gee standing.


Comments

  1. Astroman says:

    I was given a bunch of old records when I was a kid, one of them being “Holiday” by the Bee Gees. The flip side was “Every Christian Lionhearted Man Will Show You.” The song really creeped me out when I was young, but as I grew older I realized how hauntingly beautiful and innovative it was. Hearing that song and others they did in the 60’s, it’s hard to believe that in less than a decade they would be at the forefront of the Disco movement.

  2. Race Baker says:

    Amazing album! Great to see it getting recognition. Horizontal is another good one.
    Beegee’s 1st is like a psychedelic peppermint. Horizontal is like a butterscotch.

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