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I've tried to compile a list below of all of Gilbert's songs, including each of the different versions. The majority of these songs have been released and are available on CD.  Some of them have never been recorded but have only ever been heard in Gilbert's live concerts and a handful of these songs have never been heard in public. Where songs have been released on vinyl, I've tried to mention a CD alternative. Click on the record sleeve to hear song samples. If you spot an error or have some information to add to this list, please email me by clicking HERE. The best place to buy Gilbert's music is at Bygum Records


15 TIMES

Released on the album A STRANGER IN MY OWN BACK YARD [Oct 1974]

NOTE: A rollicking, faintly surreal piece of music-hall style nonsense featuring a talking goldfish and an enthusiastic masochist.

GILBERT: “I remember the drummer Harvey Mason brought a full case of percussion nick-nacks in it, we used a lot of them on the track.  Just a bit of lightweight fun.”

A FRIEND OF MINE [Version 1]

Released on the album I'M A WRITER NOT A FIGHTER [Sept 1973]

NOTE: Adding Mary Ann, Ted, Sarah Jane and Homer the dog to the growing list of characters introduced in Gilbert's songs, 'A Friend of Mine' features a mildly eccentric narrator greeting ladies, offering advice and suggesting that if you're 'good and kind', he'll be your friend for life.

GILBERT: "I really like this song, nice middle section.  We still do it live in concert, it's very popular especially in Scandinavia.  Sarah Jane was [arranger/conductor] Johnnie Spence's daughter, but there's no real significance to the names.  Mary Ann is a beer in Jersey!"

A FRIEND OF MINE [Version 2] [Live]

Released on the album THE BEST OF GILBERT O'SULLIVAN - LIVE IN JAPAN [1995]

NOTE: Recorded at Nakano-Sunplaza, Tokyo in Feb 1993.

A LOVE SO

Released on the album PIANO FOREPLAY [May 2003]

A MINUTE OF YOUR TIME

Released as a vinyl single [June 1982] and later appeared on the album LIFE & RHYMES [Oct 1982]

NOTE: One of Gilbert’s quirkiest, most memorable love songs in which the singer begs for a moment’s attention from the object of his affections while meditating on how an “error” in life can determine someone’s happy fate.  His assertion that he’d be “happy in despair” echoes the phrase coined by one of Gilbert’s favourite writing teams Rodger’/Hart in their 1936 song “Glad To Be Unhappy”.

GILBERT: “A nice song written in Ireland.  Again, you can hear Graham’s input there on the harmonies.  Muff Winwood at CBS loved this; he saw it as a strong commercial song.”

A PROPER FOOL

Released on the album A SCRUFF AT HEART [Oct 2006]

A SIGHT FOR SORE EYES

Released on the album IRLISH [June 2000]

A VERY EXTRAORDINARY SORT OF GIRL

Released as the b-side to GET DOWN [March 1973] and later appeared on the album I'M A WRITER NOT A FIGHTER [Deluxe Version] [Apr 2012]

NOTE: An up-beat, whimsical portrait of a ‘perfect’ female who can perform alchemy, rope-tricks and glue your heart together after she’s broken it, featuring a uniquely strange synth solo.

GILBERT: “Just Gordon and myself, I played drums and piano, Gordon, keyboards and synth bass.  Bit of engineering trickery made the solo sound like that.”

A WOMAN'S PLACE [Version 1]

Released as a single [Aug 1974] and later appeared on the album A STRANGER IN MY OWN BACK YARD [Oct 1974]

The controversial lead single from the album was a cracking, Philly-style track with a classic lick, a version of which reappeared recently in Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You”.  While the sentiment “a woman’s place is in the home” was merely a genuine reflection of Gilbert’s traditional if possibly out-moded beliefs, the song was taken as sexist provocation, not least by BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour, who hosted a debate about the piece.  Pop radio, for their part, refused to play it.

GILBERT: “In fairness I do say ‘I’m all for a woman who can make it on her own’ and that I don’t want people to become like men.  But I come from a family where my mother was a housewife and when I got married, I didn’t want my wife to work.  Being at home, especially with young children is as important, if not more, than any job.  These days of course, easier said than done!”

A WOMAN'S PLACE [Version 2] [Live]

Released on the album THE BEST OF GILBERT O'SULLIVAN - LIVE IN JAPAN [1995]

NOTE: Recorded at Nakano-Sunplaza, Tokyo in Feb 1993.

AIN'T NO TELLING (WHAT TOMORROW WILL BRING) [Version 1]

NOTE: Written for the 1996 Ski-flying World Championship in Austria. Only difference to UK single release [1998] is one line in the chorus is sung by a group of skiers. Not on general sale.

AIN'T NO TELLING (WHAT TOMORROW WILL BRING) [Version 2]

Instrumental version of the song.

AIN'T NO TELLING (WHAT TOMORROW WILL BRING) [Version 3]

Released as a CD single [Oct 1998]

ALL IN THE MIND

NOTE: Played live on the Dutch tour [1997] but never recorded.

ALL THEY WANTED TO SAY

Released on the album GILBERTVILLE [Jan 2011]

ALONE AGAIN (NATURALLY) [Version 1]

Released as a single [Feb 1972] and is most recently on THE VERY BEST OF GILBERT O'SULLIVAN - A SINGER AND HIS SONGS [March 2012]

NOTE: The song’s blending of a sorry tale (suicidal thoughts, being jilted on a wedding day, parental bereavement) with a casually beautiful melody proved an extraordinary potent recipe.  A massive hit for Gilbert in many territories, the song itself was covered by many artists (including Woody Herman, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, Shirley Bassey, Sarah Vaughan and recently, Neil Diamond) but none quite capture the brilliantly matter-of-fact melancholy of the original, not to mention the beautiful acoustic guitar solo by Big Jim Sullivan.

GILBERT: “At the time of writing I was in a good mood but the lyric, which is dealing with serious issues, is based on an understanding of what I think someone going through those kind of situations might be feeling.  There’s nothing personal in it.  For me you don’t have to experience a situation to be able to write about it.  I’ve heard from a lot of people about how much that songs meant to them.  Of course people like many other songs of mine and look upon those as their favourites, but there are certain songs that seem to take it to another level.  And the great thing is, as the writer you are never going to, or should, know why.

ALONE AGAIN (NATURALLY) [Version 2]

Released as a CD single [1993] in Japan and later appeared on the album BEST HITS AND RARITIES [June 2004]

NOTE: Recorded in Studio Key-Stone Oct '91 and called the "Present Version". Performed solo on electric piano with no guitar solo. The CD also included a message from Gilbert's to his Japanese fans.

ALONE AGAIN (NATURALLY) [Version 2] [Live]

Released on the album TOMORROW TODAY LIVE IN JAPAN '93 [Aug 1993] [Japanese release]

ALONE AGAIN (NATURALLY) [Version 3] [Live]

Recorded at duo Music Exchange, Tokyo in June 2004 and released on the DVD/CD set LIVE AT DUO MUSIC EXCHANGE [Feb 2005]

ALWAYS SOMEBODY

Released on the album A STRANGER IN MY OWN BACK YARD [Oct 1974]

NOTE: A miniature sign-off and a rare example of what might be thought of as a bit of O’Sullivan preaching.

GILBERT: “Yes but it’s not over the top.  It’s not even a whole song just a refrain.  There must have been something in my mind at the time, and the sentiment is something I’m very conscious of today.”

AN END

Released on the album SINGER SOWING MACHINE [Nov 1997] [UK release]

ANSWERS ON A POSTCARD (PLEASE)

Released on the album PIANO FOREPLAY [May 2003]

ANYTIME

Released as a CD single in Japan [Sept 1993]

ARE YOU HAPPY [Version 1]

Released on the UK released version of the album SOUNDS OF THE LOOP [Apr 1993] [UK release]

NOTE: Gilbert’s take on the ‘money can’t buy you love’ maxim, complete with a Swingle Singers Sing Bach-style interlude and a contemporary groove.

GILBERT: “ It was originally a slow song, but it was fun getting it to work with that Soul2Soul-style Jazzy B feel.  That’s a good example where a half-thyme works better than a full one.  The big choir again is me incorporating my love of musical soundtracks.”

ARE YOU HAPPY [Version 2]

Released as a CD single [Nov 1993] and is the same as the album version except for addition of Gilbert singing "do, de do, de do de do da da" a couple of times at the beginning.

AS A RULE

Released originally on the album THE LITTLE ALBUM [Nov 1992] [Japanese release]

NOTE: On a song dating back from the 1970s, this track presents Gilbert at his musically dense and lyrically mischievous.  The capriciousness is underlined by the marvellously profaced string arrangement in the convoluted introduction and fade.

GILBERT: This is just lyrical madness.  I love to do these kind of things.  I love to write straighforward love songs, but sometimes I just like to let loose.  Bill Whelan had no idea what the song was when he wrote those strings.  Just as well."

AS LONG AS I CAN [Version 1]

Released as the b-side to the single YOU GOT ME GOING [July 1977]

NOTE: This version has a saxophone solo.

AS LONG AS I CAN [Version 2]

Released on the album SOUTHPAW [Nov 1977]

NOTE:   This version has a piano solo.  A life affirming country rocker that brightly touches on gay marriage, domestic violence and traditional English condiments.

GILBERT: “That’s my Fats Domino piano lick.  Lyrically it doesn’t lie low, it doesn’t hid behind the bushes.”

ASSAULT AND VINEGAR

Unreleased track.

AT LEAST I'M HONEST

Released on the album LIFE & RHYMES [Oct 1982]

NOTE: The happy return of a version of Gilbert’s endearing, well-intentioned, if gauche, suitor (see also “Who Was It”, “No More”) only this time he’s married and his justifications for his romantic shortcomings are dressed in a beautifully detailed, classic musical theatre-style melody and the elegant orchestral sounds of Richard Niles.

GILBERT: “It was never going to be a drums/bass/guitar thing.  Strings worked well I think.  Could be from a musical.  And musicals to this day have a big influence on my song writing.”

AT THE VERY MENTION OF YOUR NAME [Version 1]

Released originally on the album FROBISHER DRIVE [Nov 1987]

NOTE: Produced by Ken Gold.  Very gradual haunting beginning to the song.  Also available on the album IN THE KEY OF G [Nov 1989].

One of Gilbert’s surprisingly rare, straightforwardly fulsome love songs and a satisfying indication that despite the five-year gap between records, O’Sullivan’s ability to create effortless-sounding, beautifully crafted music remained intact.

GILBERT: “Yes, good song, I thought it would do well, but as always it’s the luck and timing.  But you never loose heart as a songwriter; Dionne Warwick turned down ‘Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head’!  That’s a reassurance!”

AT THE VERY MENTION OF YOUR NAME  [Version 2]

Released as a single [June 1990]

NOTE: The version recorded in America and funded personally by Gilbert with top producer David Foster became the second single from In The Key of G.

GILBERT: “I’d sent David the track and within days his manager got back to me.  It was an expensive project but I was very happy with it; it has more power than the album version and of course that big American sound.  Roy Massey got a lot of interest with it from American labels but they wouldn’t give me a deal on the strength of one track, and I couldn’t afford to record any more with David.”

AT THE VERY MENTION OF YOUR NAME  [Version 3] [Live]

Released on the album TOMORROW TODAY LIVE IN JAPAN '93 [Aug 1993] [Japanese release]

'B' SIDE INTRO

Released as the b-side of the single NO MATTER HOW I TRY [Nov 1971] and used as prelude to the IF I DON'T GET YOU (BACK AGAIN).  Most recently available on the album THE OTHER SIDES OF GILBERT O'SULLIUVAN [Feb 2004] [Japanese release]

BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE (SUCH IS LIFE)

Released on the album PIANO FOREPLAY [May 2003]

BEAR WITH ME

Released as a single [Sept 1982] and appeared on the album LIFE & RHYMES [Oct 1982]

NOTE: Heartfelt, blue-eyed soul in which the singer pleads for patience from a lover while he does what he can to “safeguard both our futures”.

GILBERT: “Great track, really happy with it.  In the clear light of another day, I can see the lyric sums up my situation before getting married, everything leading up to the move to Ireland.  American publishers loved that song.  George Benson wanted to record it and they asked if the lyric could be changed.  I said no, I don’t do that.”

BECAUSE OF YOU

Released originally on the album THE LITTLE ALBUM [Nov 1992] [Japanese release]

NOTE: A classic piece of 1960s AABA pop song construction; simple, direct and very catchy.  The narrator's self-pity tinged with hope is pithily conveyed in the lines "Can't say that I envy me/I'm not exactly myself right now".  Note also the attention to detail as the long 'yoou' and the shorter 'you' alternate in the fading title line.

GILBERT: "Just a nice little song, I love counter melodies."

BETTER THAN VALENTINO

Unreleased

Note: Performed on the John Peel radio programme Top Gear [16 June 1968] on BBC Radio.  The programme producer was Bernie Andrews and the engineers were Dave Tate and Allen Harris.

BREAK A LEG (1)

Released on the album SINGER SOWING MACHINE [Jan 1997] [Japanese release]

BREAK A LEG (2)

Released on the album SINGER SOWING MACHINE [Jan 1997] [Japanese release]

BREAK A LEG [Version 3]

Released as track 3 on the CD single AIN'T NO TELLING (WHAT TOMORROW WILL BRING) [Oct 1998]

BREAK IT TO ME GENTLY

Released on the album OFF CENTRE [Oct 1980]

NOTE: Expecting something good to end before much longer, the narrator in this defenceless, sad song pleads for kind treatment when he’s given the heave-ho.  A country-style weeper that could have come from the heart of Nashville.

GILBERT: “I love three-chord songs, going back to Buddy Holly.  I still do them.  The track is nice; musicians perform really well on this.”

BREAKFAST, DINNER AND TEA

Released as the b-side to the single HAPPINESS IS YOU AND ME [Feb 1974]

NOTE: This woman’s place is indeed in the home; unfortunately while she’s great in the kitchen, she’s not much in the bedroom department.  A tongue-in-cheek ‘food in lieu of sex’ song.

GILBERT: “Is that what I was singing about?  We shouldn’t hark on that one then!  Little bit of a rocker, it was always going to be a B-side.  This one was recorded in England, at the end of a traditional three hour session.”

BUT I'M NOT

Released as the b-side on the single OOH WAKKA DOO WAKKA DAY [May 1972] and later appeared on BACK TO FRONT [Oct 1972]

NOTE: A rollicking, Fats Domino-style variation on the 12-bar blues and one of three occasions on Back To Front (see also ‘Can I Go With You’ and ‘The Golden Rule’) when Gilbert defends himself against suspicions that he might be a ’fool’.  The narrator may be an underdog, and an outsider, but underestimate him at your peril.

GILBERT: “I’ve always had a lack of self-esteem in my personal life.  In those days, I used to watch myself on TV from a distance.  I’ve always been suspicious of mirrors.  I had no problem hearing my voice in the studio, but if it came on the radio, I turned it off.  You just feel inadequate at times.  I don’t think you ever lose that.  But the good thing is belief in your work more than makes up for it.”

BYE BYE

Released on the album HIMSELF [Oct 1971]

NOTE: Very much a straightforward song of parting set to a pretty melody and arrangement but laced with barbed lines like “Sometimes even out of spite/I’m uncouth”.

GILBERT: “Barbs, I do that, little lines like that would give it a bit of edge; that would be in my mind.  It’s very often the dark side of love that I pick up on e.g. the breakdown of relationships, affairs, etc.”

CALL ON ME

Released as the b-side on the single YOU NEVER LISTEN TO REASON [Oct 1975]

NOTE:A cheerful affirmation of friendship with a couple of pianos plus an early drum machine.  Note also the characteristic reference to the track’s B-side status.

Gilbert: “I love this track.  That’s Bob Hook on solo overdubs.  Went in a 7pm, went home three hours later, finished and mixed.”

CAME AND WENT

Released on the album SOUNDS OF THE LOOP [Nov 1991] [Japanese release]

NOTE: This sad portrait of someone feeling betrayed by a fair-weather friend is pitched in a lower key than is usual for Gilbert’s voice, which gives a dark, murmuring quality to the vocal, underlining the singer’s disappointment at events.  The four-seasons-in-one-day middle section is one of Gilbert’s strangest dreamlike lyrics.

GILBERT: “That’s a Stones-influenced song.  I wrote most of it in the early 70’s and wrote the bridge when we recorded it.  It was always in that key, I sing in the key I write in.  Tom Dowd was the first person to ever suggest to me singing in a different key.”

CAME TO SEE ME YESTERDAY [Version 1]

Released on the album THE HUMBLE BEGINNING OF ENGLAND'S GILBERT O'SULLIVAN AND GERRY DORSEY [1972]

NOTE: Recorded solo on piano with 1,2,3,4 count-in.

CAME TO SEE ME YESTERDAY [Version 2]

Released on the album E LE SUE CANZONI [1974]

NOTE: The same as Version 3 but without the woodwind prelude. Titled "Come To See Me Yesterday" on the record.

CAME TO SEE ME YESTERDAY [Version 3]

Released as a single [1974]

NOTE: Recorded with drums, strings and wind instruments with a woodwind prelude.

CAME TO SEE ME YESTERDAY [Version 4]

Released on the album THE LITTLE ALBUM [Nov 1992] [Japanese release]

NOTE: Another nonsensical oldie, this time with a lyric that swerves around the expected word 'May' into surprise puns and other eccentric wordplay.  Tom Rush covered it on his 1970 album Wrong. End Of The Rainbow.

GILBERT: "Tom Rush was a highly-regarded spotter of up-and-coming writers like Joni Mitchell, so that cover was a big thrill.  The Amboy Dukes did an upbeat reggae version, so we've done it like that on stage.  Great fun to do."

CAME TO SEE ME YESTERDAY [Version 5] [Live]

Released on the album TOMORROW TODAY LIVE IN JAPAN '93 [Aug 1993] [Japanese release]

CAME TO SEE ME YESTERDAY [Version 6] [Live]

Unreleased

NOTE: A ska version of this song has been on the live playlist since the 2008 tour.

CAN I GO WITH YOU

Released on the album BACK TO FRONT [Oct 1972].

NOTE: A knowing homage to the musical style and dreamy innocence of early Beatles, especially McCartney’s chiming romanticism, Can I Go With You evokes a world of holding hands and promising to be true, full of hope and youthful idealism.

GILBERT: “The Beatles first album was a revelation for all of us.  I was into songs before, but The Beatles made us feel that we could do it.  I don’t do harmonies, being a solo singer, but there’s a perfect Lennon-McCartney harmony to this song that I occasionally do on stage with one of the girls in the band.”

CAN I LEAVE THE REST UP TO YOU

Released on the album GILBERTVILLE [Jan 2011].

NOTE: Backing vocals on this track by British comedian Bobby Davro

CAN'T FIND MY WAY HOME

Released on the album EVERY SONG HAS ITS PLAY [May 1995].

NOTE: Written specially for this record, this song is a good example of O'Sullivan's approach to a melodic, standard-style song.  The recurrence of the 'lost lamb' images evokes the Gershwins ("Someone To Watch Over Me") and Rodgers/Hart ("Glad To Be Unhappy").

GILBERT: "One of my best songs, lovely to sing and slightly outside a normal approach.  I like that it's about someone who has fallen in love, but is frightened by how it could and is affecting his way of life.  I've done it live quite a few times recently; it's proven to be very popular."

CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF YOU [Version 1]

Released on the album OFF CENTRE [Oct 1980]

NOTE: Another old-style Gilbert standard, full of heart, melody and sumptuous chord changes, and which surprisingly failed to crack the charts when released as the third single from Off Centre.

GILBERT: “Probably the closest thing to a Bacharach-David song I’ve written.  One of my best ever.”

CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF YOU [Version 2]

Released as a single [March 1981]

NOTE: This version is double tracked and has a different solo.

CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF YOU [Version 3]

Released on the album RARE TRACKS [Apr 1992] [Japanese release]

NOTE: Described on the album sleeve as "Another Version".

CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF YOU [Version 4] [Live]

Released on the album TOMORROW TODAY LIVE IN JAPAN '93 [Aug 1993] [Japanese release]

CAN'T GET YOU OUT OF MY MIND

Released as the b-side on the single TO EACH HIS OWN [Oct 1976]

NOTE: For all its evident B-side production values, this song is full of satisfying detail, not least in the elaborate middle section, inspired guitar solo and classic Beatles ending.

GILBERT: “Me, a guitar player, a drum machine, and keyboard bass.  There was a hiss on the drum part that really annoyed me.  I had trouble getting rid of it.  Not sure I ever did.”

CAN'T GET YOU TO LOVE ME

Released on the album A STRANGER IN MY OWN BACK YARD [Oct 1974]

NOTE: A Steely Dan-style unconscious updating of the old standard ‘I Can’t Get Started’, featuring a list of the singer’s considerable achievements which appear insignificant when compared to his inability to get anywhere with a particularly stubborn girl.

GILBERT: “It’s a “Got To Get You Into My Life” kind of thing that got a lot of FM airplay at the time.  It really comes to life when we do it live.  It deserves a good remix.  Lyrically, it’s a typical approach of mine; she’s the problem, not me.”

CAN'T SAY FAIRER THAN THAT

Released on the album A SCRUFF AT HEART [Oct 2006]

CAN'T THINK STRAIGHT [Version 1]

Released on the Japanese released version of the album SOUNDS OF THE LOOP [Nov 1991] [Japanese release]

Note: Duet with Takao Kisugi.  Popular Japanese recording artist Takao Kisugi was inspired to begin writing songs by Gilbert’s  ‘No Matter How I Try’ and was invited to Jersey to meet and duet with him for ‘can’t Think Straight’.  This was Gilbert’s first ever recorded duet and his first since his mainstream TV days when his partners included Dean Martin, Lulu, Petula Clark and Vicky Leandros.

GILBERT: “Takao is a nice person and a good writer/musician.  We usually meet up on our visits to Japan.”

CAN'T THINK STRAIGHT [Version 2]

This version is a duet with Peggy Lee and was released as a CD single [1992]

NOTE: Schmaltzy, witty and wise, ‘Can’t Think Straight’ is one of Gilbert’s later masterpieces in which the singer agitates about getting angry with his girlfriend, third-world hunger, the imminent extinction of the human race and his rent going up.  The duet with legendary chanteuse Peggy Lee, recorded in New York’s Hit Factory studio, recreated via video screen, remains a highlight of Gilbert’s live show.

GILBERT: “I wanted that big orchestral and choral effect and Laurie Holloway, as an arranger, is perfect for this.  I don’t even think of it as a duet, maybe a cameo, but Peggy was my first choice.  Meeting her, recording the vocal, filming it for a video was, in spite of Peggy being in a wheelchair and having to use an oxygen tank, a joyful and memorable experience.”

CAN'T THINK STRAIGHT [Version 3]

This version is a duet with Danish singer Kirsten Siggaard and was released on the Scandinavian release of the SOUNDS OF THE LOOP album [1993]

CAN'T THINK STRAIGHT [Version 4]

This version is a duet with Spanish actress Silvia Tortosa and was released on the Spanish release of the SOUNDS OF THE LOOP album [1993]

NOTE: Gilbert’s Spanish publisher suggested this for the Spanish release of the album.

GILBERT: “I never met her.  There’s another English version featuring Danish singer Kirstin Siggaard with whom I also in 2011, recorded a duet with her of my ‘Christmas Song’.”

CHRISTMAS SONG [Version 1]

Released as a single [Nov 1974]

CHRISTMAS SONG [Version 2]

The original track was remixed and released as a iTunes download [Dec 2010]

CHRISTMAS SONG [Version 3]

Recorded as a duet with Gilbert and Kirsten Siggaard and released on Kirsten's album Min Jul [Nov 2011]

CLAIR [Version 1]

Release as a single [Oct 1972] and also appeared on the album BACK TO FRONT [Oct 1972].

NOTE: Written as a thank you to the parents (manager Gordon Mills and his wife Jo) of the little girl Gilbert sometimes babysat, the open-hearted affection, wry realism (“you can be murder at this hour of the day”) and irresistible melody of Clair touched millions around the world.

GILBERT: “Everything about it worked perfectly, because Gordon, a former harmonica champion of Great Britain, played the solo, and Clair does the laugh at the end.  It was very personal, very innocent, and captured a moment really well.  It often crosses my mind though, in the world we live in today, would I be able to write it now?”

CLAIR [Version 2] [Live]

Released on the album TOMORROW TODAY LIVE IN JAPAN '93 [Aug 1993] [Japanese release]

CLAIR [Version 3] [Live]

Recorded at duo Music Exchange, Tokyo in June 2004 and released on the DVD/CD set LIVE AT DUO MUSIC EXCHANGE [Feb 2005]

COME ON HOME

Unreleased

NOTE: A very early song as yet unrecorded.  The first song Gilbert wrote in a minor key.  Recorded and released by the Tremeloes.  Performed live for the first time on the 2007 tour. Performed on John Peel's BBC radio programme Top Gear on 19/5/68 on BBC Radio.

CON-LAB-LIB

Released on the album SINGER SOWING MACHINE [Nov 1997] [UK Release]

CONVERSATION WITH FLYING PLATES

Released on the album PIANO FOREPLAY [May 2003]

COULD HAVE MADE IT WITH YOU

Released on the album GILBERTVILLE [Jan 2011]

NOTE: This track is shown as Hitler Could Have Made It With You on the album sleeve.

COULDN'T GET ARRESTED

Released as track 2 on the CD single HAVE IT [May 2001]

DEAR DREAM [Version 1] [Live]

Released on the album TOMORROW TODAY LIVE IN JAPAN '93 [Aug 1993] [Japanese release]

DEAR DREAM [Version 2]

Released on the album EVERY SONG HAS ITS PLAY [May 1995]

NOTE: The doubts and ambitions of the young artist set to very pretty melody.  "Dear Dream" has an air of classic, catchy O'Sullivan and if released in Gilbert's commercial heyday of 1971-73, would undoubtedly have been a hit.

GILBERT: "This album was Radio 2's album of the week.  However when we released "Dear Dream" as a single, it didn't make their playlist!"

DEAR DREAM [Version 3]

Released as a CD single [Track 1] [Nov 1995]

NOTE: Remix by Ben Liebrand.

DEAR DREAM [Version 4]

Released as a CD single [Track 2] [Nov 1995]

NOTE: Dance Mix Radio Edit.  A. Gill & Ben production.

DEAR DREAM [Version 5]

Released as a CD single [Track 3] [Nov 1995]

NOTE: Dance Mix Full Version.  A. Gill & Ben production.

DISAPPEAR [Version 1]

The original demo was released on the reissued deluxe version of the album HIMSELF [Nov 2011]

NOTE: Gilbert was unhappy with a studio rerecording of the song so this original demo recorded in his shed was – after a lot of persuasion from Gilbert – used by producer Mike Smith and arranger Keith Mansfield (Tremeloes, Love Affair) as the basis for his debut single in November 1967.  It featured his early ‘old man’ vocals.

GILBERT: “That was the Dylan thing, I played on that old man sound, saying to the record company ‘You want something different?  Take your pick!  A young man who sounds like an old man and looks like nobody else!’  Dylan at that stage was a big influence for singing, Lennon/McCartney for songwriting.  ‘Girl’ from Rubber Soul was an inspiration for ‘Disappear’.”

DISAPPEAR [Version 2]

Released as a single [Nov 1967]

DISAPPEAR [Version 3]

Unreleased

NOTE: Performed on John Peel's BBC Radio programme "Top Gear" on 19/5/68.

DISHONOURABLE PROFESSION

Released on the album EVERY SONG HAS ITS PLAY [May 1995]

NOTE: The only song especially composed for the stage show and naturally retained for the album, "Dishonourable Profession" is a moody, sad indictment of the ruthlessness of the music business, full of expressive musical detail, not to say a palpable feeling of hurt and disappointment.

GILBERT: "That's how the business is: push them on stage, then push them to one side.  The X-Factor is no different.  But all business is a bit like that."

DIVORCE IRISH STYLE [Version 1]

Released on the album SOUNDS OF THE LOOP [Nov 1991] [Japanese release]

NOTE: Gilbert casts a beady eye on the inflexibility and complacency of the Catholic Church in the face of unhappy marriages.

GILBERT: “I remember reading that Edward Kennedy had the annulment of his marriage fast-tracked by church hierarchy in America and I was appalled by the hypocrisy, and thought of all those unhappy, particularly in Ireland, who had to wait years and only then if they were lucky, for theirs.”

DIVORCE IRISH STYLE [Version 2]

Released as track 3 on the CD single CAN'T THINK STRAIGHT [1992]

DOESN'T IT MAKE YOU SICK (MORTAR AND BRICK) [Version 1]

Released as a CD single [Jan 1997]

DOESN'T IT MAKE YOU SICK (MORTAR AND BRICK) [Version 2]

Released on the album SINGER SOWING MACHINE [Nov 1997] [UK Release]

DOING THE BEST THAT I CAN

Released as the b-side on the single UNDERNEATH THE BLANKET GO [Feb 1971] and later appeared on the album HIMSELF [Nov 1971]

NOTE: With the sense of an impoverished father at the end of his rope, this song boasts an intriguing circular chord sequence.

GILBERT: “Beatle-influenced, McCartney-esque track, odd chord sequence.  You look for those kind of things, but sometimes they just happen.  It’s nice though when it does.”

DOING WHAT I KNOW

Released as a single [Aug 1976] and later appeared on the album SOUTHPAW [Nov 1977]

NOTE: This chiming, piano-driven track features an effective minor modulation mid-way through and anticipates the piano rock of Bruce Hornsby by years.

GILBERT: “It’s very me, pretty much sums me up!  Really good song that got a bit overshadowed by the Four Seasons’ ‘September ‘63’, which has a similar piano part, at the time.  I wanted to do something to make pianos sound big (always a bee in my bonnet); no one had done a record with pianos really to the fore.  I’m proud of that, and I’m still trying to figure out how to do it live.”

DON'T BOTHER AT ALL

Released as the b-side on the single BEAR WITH ME [Sept 1982]

NOTE: A tough early-1980s production supports a tough, bluesy dismissal of an unfaithful lover.

GILBERT: “With Graham, very ‘80s, a bit of rock ‘n’ roll.”

DON'T DICTATE TO ME

Unreleased

NOTE: A song recorded during Gilbert's very first recording session.

DON'T I KNOW IT

Released on the album IRLISH [June 2000]

DON'T IT GET TO YOU

Released on the album A SCRUFF AT HEART [Oct 2006]

DON'T YOU EVER CHANGE YOUR MIND

Released on the album E LE SUE CANZONI [1974]

DOWN, DOWN, DOWN

Released as the b-side on the single WHAT'S IN A KISS [Aug 1980]

NOTE: A terrific, finger pickin’, absurd rocker with tricky rhythmic displacements and, after “Intro” from Southpaw, Gilbert’s second evocation of Stanley and Livingstone in a song.

GILBERT: “We knew it wouldn’t make the album, but good playing from everybody.”

DOWN DOWN HERE

Released on the album GILBERTVILLE [Jan 2011] 

EASIER SAID THAN DONE

Released on the album IRLISH [June 2000]

END-VIRONMENTAL PIECE

Released on the 3 CD set CARICATURE - THE BOX [Jan 2004]

NOTE: Same track as 'Me - Reprise' from Irlish [June 2001].

EVERYBODY KNOWS

Released as the b-side on the single NOTHING RHYMED [Oct 1970]

NOTE: Gilbert in Grand Ole Opry mode, complete with hoedown fiddles and whistle-along melody.

GILBERT: “Good little number, lightweight, a bit of fun.”

FINE BY ME

Released on the album IRLISH [June 2000]

FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH [Version 1]

Released on the album OFF CENTRE [Oct 1980]

NOTE: She blames him for getting her pregnant and is going to make him suffer for the rest of his life.  A sweet, vulnerable statement of helpless devotion in the face of cruel indifference set to characteristically plaintive chords, especially the heart-tugging sequence on the lines “Yet I love her with all of my heart/For what it’s worth”.

GILBERT: “A very sad song, but true.  As a lyricist, I like those dark areas; I like to think I have an understanding of it, albeit from an observer’s point of view.  Some women can be very cruel, but the love men have for them is astonishing.  I seem to hone in on women treating men badly, rather than the other way round”.

FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH [Version 2]

Released on the 3 CD set CARICATURE - THE BOX [Jan 2004]

NOTE: Described on sleeve notes as original version.

FORCE OF HABIT

Released on the album IRLISH [June 2000]

FOREVER WONDERING

Released on the album FROBISHER DRIVE [Nov 1987]

NOTE: A Frobisher Drive track dating from the Graham Gouldman-produced sessions for Life And Rhymes which didn’t appear on In The Key Of G, this tongue-in-cheek, Fats Domino-style rocker features a stream of the narrator’s thoughts which range from being late for work, the death of his girlfriend, the possibility of putting a cat in a curry and a mysterious infection.

GILBERT: “Little doo-wop band came in for this.”

FOREVER WONDERING

Released on the album FROBISHER DRIVE [Nov 1987]

NOTE: A Frobisher Drive track dating from the Graham Gouldman-produced sessions for Life And Rhymes which didn’t appear on In The Key Of G, this tongue-in-cheek, Fats Domino-style rocker features a stream of the narrator’s thoughts which range from being late for work, the death of his girlfriend, the possibility of putting a cat in a curry and a mysterious infection.

GILBERT: “Little doo-wop band came in for this.”

GET DOWN [Version 1]

Released as a single [March 1973] and later appeared on the album I'M A WRITER NOT A FIGHTER [Sept 1973]

GET DOWN '90 [Version 2]

Released as a single [1989]

GET DOWN [Version 3] [Live]

Released on the album TOMORROW TODAY LIVE IN JAPAN '93 [Aug 1993] [Japanese release]

GET DOWN [Version 4] [Live]

Recorded at duo Music Exchange, Tokyo in June 2004 and released on the DVD/CD set LIVE AT DUO MUSIC EXCHANGE [Feb 2005]

GET DOWN AGAIN [Version 5]

Unreleased 2008 promo.

NOTE: An electronic dance remix of Get Down

GET DOWN AGAIN [Version 6]

Unreleased 2008 radio edit.

NOTE: An electronic dance remix of Get Down

GET DOWN AGAIN [Version 7]

Unreleased 2008 Mac Project Club Remix.

NOTE: An electronic dance remix of Get Down

GET DOWN AGAIN [Version 8]

Unreleased 2008 DJ Puddy Remix.

NOTE: An electronic dance remix of Get Down

GET DOWN AGAIN [Version 9]

Unreleased 2008 Out Of The Office Remix.

NOTE: An electronic dance remix of Get Down

GET DOWN AGAIN [Version 10]

Unreleased 2008 Paul Rincon Remix.

NOTE: An electronic dance remix of Get Down

GET OUT OF MY LIFE [Version 1]

Released on the album THE HUMBLE BEGINNING OF ENGLAND'S GILBERT O'SULLIVAN AND GERRY DORSEY [1972]

GET OUT OF MY LIFE [Version 2]

Released on the album E LE SUE CANZONI [1974]

GO FORTH AND MULTIPLY

Unreleased

NOTE: Never recorded but has been played at live shows.

GOD FORBID

Released on the album PIANO FOREPLAY [May 2003]

GOING HOME

Released on the album E LE SUE CANZONI [1974]

GOOD COMPANY

Released as the b-side on the single OOH BABY [Aug 1973]

NOTE: A fine country rocker in a similar thematic area as “Get Down” (the singer would ‘much rather you stay with me’) and featuring superb drumming, a dangerously quirky middle and an incendiary guitar solo from Big Jim Sullivan, “Good Company” ranks as perhaps Gilbert’s best ever B-side.

GILBERT: “Funny lyric, and it really moves along.  I only picked up on it again when Japan put out The Other Sides B-sides collection in 2004.  I’m tempted to do it on stage but only if I can remember the chords.”

GORDON BENNET

Released on the album IN THE KEY OF G [Nov 1989]

NOTE: In an ingenious and typically O’Sullivan-esque conceit, Gilbert turns the casual British exclamation ‘Gordon Bennett’ (a polite alternative to blaspheming) into a portentous near-personification associated with misfortune, fate and inadequacy.

GILBERT: “Bob Hook used to say it all the time.  It had such an Englishness about it, had to be a song.”

GOT TO BE THAT WAY [Version 1]

Released on the album LIFE & RHYMES [Oct 1982]

NOTE: The singer is so enamoured with his lover that suddenly all the romantic clichés (“You’re like a breath of spring on a winter’s day / Like the moon in June in the month of May”) feel not only inevitable and apt, but compulsory.  In a neat paradox, Gilbert’s acceptance of well-worn, lovelorn phrases is set to one of his most unpredictable, cliché-free chord sequences.

GILBERT: “It starts with a common three-chord thing, but in the middle eight drops a key, which is very unusual.  I wrote it on a Fender Rhodes; different colours.”

GOT TO BE THAT WAY [Version 2] [Live]

Released on the album TOMORROW TODAY LIVE IN JAPAN '93 [Aug 1993] [Japanese release]

NOTE: The singer is so enamoured with his lover that suddenly all the romantic clichés (“You’re like a breath of spring on a winter’s day / Like the moon in June in the month of May”) feel not only inevitable and apt, but compulsory.  In a neat paradox, Gilbert’s acceptance of well-worn, lovelorn phrases is set to one of his most unpredictable, cliché-free chord sequences.

GILBERT: “It starts with a common three-chord thing, but in the middle eight drops a key, which is very unusual.  I wrote it on a Fender Rhodes; different colours.”

HAPPINESS IS ME AND YOU [Version 1]

Released as a single [Feb 1974]

NOTE: Straight-forwardly romantic and hopeful love songs are surprisingly rare in Gilbert’s canon, but this one of the most fulsome.

GILBERT: “Inspired by the ‘Love Is…’ trend at the time, a genuine love song.  I always felt the record was a bit laboured, but we do it on stage now with just acoustic guitar in a mid-tempo Latin style and it sounds great.  It’s a highlight of the show; the power of it really resonates with an audience.”

HAPPINESS IS ME AND YOU [Version 2]

Unreleased

NOTE: Gilbert introduced a different version of this song on the 2007 tour with just him singing accompanied by an Spanish acoustic guitar.

HAS BEEN

Released on the album LIFE & RHYMES [Oct 1982]

NOTE: With a reggaefied and wittily fussy backing vocals, this has Gouldman’s stamp all over it.  It contains one of Gilbert’s wide-ranging, tangential lyrics (expressing distaste for archaic, voguish expressions, tawdry literature and prison as a soft option) while tackling at its core, with characteristic wry humour, the singer’s decline in popularity.

GILBERT: “I enjoy Graham’s work on this very much.  At his suggestion, this is the first and only time I put the middle from one song into another.  That was something he used to do with 10cc.  Lyrically it’s the fun of writing nonsensical but good lines without being limited by a story.”

HAVE IT

Released on the album IRLISH [June 2000]

HAVING SAID THAT

Released on the album SOUNDS OF THE LOOP [Nov 1991] [Japanese release]

NOTE: An amusingly contrary and defensive dismissal of romance in general and one lady in particular.  ‘Having Said That’ features a reprise of the endearingly awkward suitor found in several of Gilbert’s songs (see also ‘At Least I’m Honest’, ‘Who was It’).

GILBERT: “This dates back from my CBS days.  I first played it to Muff Winwood.  He heard the opening line ‘I think love is a load of crap…’ and he said, ‘Sorry Ray, not going to go there!’  I like it, I like the humour, the little flute thing.  We rehearsed it for our last tour but ran out of time.”

HEAVEN'S ABOVE [Version 1]

Released on the album SINGER SOWING MACHINE [Nov 1997] [Japanese Release]

HEAVEN'S ABOVE [Version 2]

Released on the album SINGER SOWING MACHINE [Nov 1997] [UK Release]

HELLO IT'S GOODBYE

Released on the album OFF CENTRE [Oct 1980]

NOTE: This assertive medium-paced rocker has a McCartney-esque melodic flavour in which the narrator puzzles over the lack of success in tempting ladies into intimate physical involvement.

GILBERT: “One of my Al Green influenced rhythm-wise tracks.”

HELP IS ON THE WAY

Released on the album OFF CENTRE [Oct 1980]

NOTE: The track thumps along with infectious musical gusto and features a spirited, rhythmic vocal with line after opaque line.

GILBERT: “It just rocks along.  The rough we did was really good; sometimes the demo has more energy than the finished recording, even if the vocal had a load of gobbledegook.  I had to write that lyric very quickly due to the recording schedule.  Unusual for me.”

HERE'S WHY

Released on the album GILBERTVILLE [Jan 2011]

NOTE: A duet with Hayley Sanderson.

HEY MAMA

Unreleased

HOLD ON TO WHAT YOU GOT [Version 1]

Released on the album THE LITTLE ALBUM [Nov 1992] [Japanese release]

NOTE: This resolute country rocker is full of oblique references to Gilbert's legal fight for his publishing in the '80s.  It is narrated by a man who has been "stabbed so many times in the back", he "no longer feels a thing" and who advises you to "keep a watchful eye on those who tell lies" to ensure you "get what you're entitled to".  It features a neat harmonica solo and strings used only to reinforce the dense little figure at the end of the bridge.

GILBERT: "This is a showstopper when we do it live.  Mick Parker does an accordion solo then the girls so a string solo with country-ish feel.  It's always a highlight."

HOLD ON TO WHAT YOU GOT [Version 2] [Live]

Released on the album TOMORROW TODAY LIVE IN JAPAN '93 [Aug 1993] [Japanese release]

HOLD ON TO WHAT YOU GOT [Version 3] [Live]

Recorded at duo Music Exchange, Tokyo in June 2004 and released on the DVD/CD set LIVE AT DUO MUSIC EXCHANGE [Feb 2005]

HOUDINI SAID

Released on the album HIMSELF [Oct 1971]

NOTE: A mesmerising, opaque epic that boasts baroque strings, call-and-response with a Greek chorus, a Swingle Singers interlude and contains the shockingly contemporary lines “Oh I’ve often wondered what it is that incites/So many young people to take part in those riots/Whereby all men in blue are the targets to destroy”.

GILBERT: “That’s what you observe, that’s what you write about; it has a relevance today, absolutely.  Just a cynical observance, again your lyrical mind is in overload there.”

HOW I SAY I LOVE YOU

Released on the album IRLISH [June 2000]

I CAN GIVE YOU

Released on the album SOUNDS OF THE LOOP [Nov 1991] [Japanese release]

NOTE: A variation on the sentiment expressed in the 1928 McHugh/Fields standard ‘I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby’, this is one of Gilbert’s simple melodies (notwithstanding the typical left-turn taken in the middle section) that feels like it’s been around in the air forever.

GILBERT: “That goes back to the mid-1960s, and is one of the nicest early love songs.”

I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO [Version 1]

Unreleased

NOTE: Performed on the John Peel's Top Gear programme on 16/6/68 on BBC Radio.

I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO [Version 2]

Released as the b-side on the single WE WILL [July 1971]

NOTE: A jolly, touching scenario depicting the dilemma of who to turn to when growing up.

GILBERT: “I try at times to play piano like strumming a guitar, unusual fro a piano player to do.  I’ve always considered myself to be a rhythm player, left hand being the bass and drums, right hand being the chords.  The combination of the two is my style.  I’m known to refer to myself as the Bruce Welch of the piano!”

I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO [Version 3]

Released on the album E LE SUE CANZONI [1974]

NOTE: Titled "I Don't Know What To Do" on the album sleeve.

I DON'T CARE

Released on the album SINGER SOWING MACHINE [Nov 1997] [Japanese Release]

I DON'T LOVE YOU BUT I THINK I LIKE YOU

Released as a single [May 1975]

I DON'T MIND

Released on the album THE LITTLE ALBUM [Nov 1992] [Japanese release]

NOTE: A straighforward expression of support and devotion in a contemporary O'Sullivan song and one of the rare instances of "I love you" appearing in a later Gilbert lyric.  The fulsome invitation for that special someone to visit closes at a teasingly unresolved musical moment.

GILBERT: "That could have easily gone on In The Key Of G.  It has a strong soul influence and a full-on love lyric."

I DON'T TRUST MEN WITH EARRINGS IN THEIR EARS

Released on the album FROBISHER DRIVE [Nov 1987]

NOTE: In the tradition of provocative Gilbertian statements (see also ‘A Woman’s Place (Is In The Home)’), the inevitable ensuing controversy plus the catchy, Springsteen-inspired pop gloss of the track may have generated some attention if it had been released as a single.

GILBERT: “My daughter Tara dislikes this and I’m sorry if it offends people, but as a lyricist it’s an interesting observation and not least, like ‘A Woman’s Place’…Good title for a song!  The verses actually cover an interesting area, children being forced to grow up before their time.  But typical O’Sullivan, the chorus bears no relation to that.”

I GAVE MINE TO YOU

Released on the album PIANO FOREPLAY [May 2003]

I HAVE MY COAT TO KEEP ME WARM

Released on the album THE GREATEST HITS [June 1998] [Japanese release].  Now available on the reissued deluxe version of the album IN THE KEY OF G [Apr 2013]

NOTE: The first UK release of a sweetly defensive piece which favours – a trifle faint heartedly – the reliability of old clothing over the hurtful potential of being in love.

GILBERT: “From the Frobisher Drive sessions in Ireland, just me and a drum machine, never made the album.  It’s a nice spin on Irving Berlin’s ‘I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm’.”

I HAVE NEVER LOVED YOU AS MUCH AS I LOVE YOU TODAY

Released on the album I'M A WRITER NOT A FIGHTER [Sept 1973]

NOTE: An upbeat love letter from a serviceman abroad to his partner at home with a busy lyric set to an intricate melody and featuring a hint of the homecoming promise of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’.

GILBERT: “I’m not a singer with much of a vibrato, so I tend to write the way people speak, with lots of words.  Far too many for those who like to hold notes.  I always say that as a forces song, a bit like ‘Missing You Already’ on my current album ‘Gilbertville’.  I like those kinds of sentiments, they resonate with me.”

I KNOW WHAT I WOULD DO

Released on the album A SCRUFF AT HEART [Oct 2006] [Japanese release]

I LOVE IT BUT

Released on the album OFF CENTRE [Oct 1980]

NOTE: Chris Rea plays accordion on this track.  Careful listeners to Gilbert’s oeuvre have got used to a little gentle cynicism here and there, but this densely composed, sarcastic satire on mealy-mouthed praise and ignorant, contradictory musical advice introduces a new tone; bitterness.  This, plus the dramatic arrangement and highly-charged vocal add up to a startling track.

GILBERT: “I used to get that from people in the music business all the time; this song hits the nail on the head.”

I LOVE MARRIED WOMEN

Unreleased

NOTE: An unfinished song that Gilbert played part of during his show at The Great Southern Hotel in Galway on 26 March 2001.

I, OF COURSE REPLIED [Version 1]

Released as the b-side on the single DOING WHAT I KNOW [Aug 1976]

NOTE: Piano solo

I, OF COURSE REPLIED [Version 2]

Released on the album SOUTHPAW [Nov 1977]

NOTE: Organ solo. The notable aspect of this catchy, lightweight track is the abundance of pianos.

GILBERT: “Recorded in the same way as the single ‘Doing What I Know’ (see below), this is me treating pianos like guitars; lead piano, bass piano, loads of overdubbed pianos.

I PROMISE HONEST

Released on the album LIFE & RHYMES [Oct 1982]

NOTE: An ultra-eighties synthesised fanfare heralds a catchy, densely packed pop song in which the singer declares that while he doesn’t care for “this so-called liberation”, he’s quite prepared to give up his life if there’s a chance his lover will believe he’ll never hurt her again and return to him.

GILBERT:  “The song was written in the early 70s, hence the women’s lib line.  A late addition to the album so not a lot of time spent on it.  Has a good chorus.”

I REMEMBER ONCE

Released on the album SOUTHPAW [Nov 1977]

NOTE: A haunting, almost incantational piece bringing together several of Gilbert’s recurring themes, disappointment of school (see also “If You Ever”), the struggle of marriage (see also “The Marriage Machine”) and ecological disaster (see also “Not In A Million Years”).

GILBERT: “This was done with Tony Hymas, great keyboard player, and influenced by Stevie Wonder’s ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’.  This was the last one to be mixed.  Because Peter Ryston and I had almost come to blows by then, I brought in an Audio International Studio engineer called Nicky Ryan to mix it for me.”

I WANNA KNOW

Released on the album GILBERTVILLE [Jan 2011]

I WISH I COULD CRY [Version 1]

Released as the b-side on the single Mr Moody's Garden [May 1969]

NOTE: Produced by Tommy Scott. Recorded with piano, strings and woodwind and without drums. Also has a false ending.

I WISH I COULD CRY [Version 2]

Released as a single [Aug 1971]

NOTE: Different recording, similar to Version 1 but with drums and without false ending.

I WISH I COULD CRY [Version 3]

Released on the album EVERY SONG HAS ITS PLAY [May 1995]

NOTE: A 1968 song written in the wake of Robert Kennedy's assassination, a more upbeat version had been released by Gilbert as the b-side of "Mr Moody's Garden" on Major Minor in 1969.

GILBERT: "Our generation all thought he would be the next president.  his death, following on from that of his brother, president John F Kennedy, was so depressing. It seemed to fit in to the story because I was so disappointed with the Major Minor version, here was a chance to redo it the way I wanted."

I WISH I COULD CRY [Version 4] [Live]

Released on the album TOMORROW TODAY LIVE IN JAPAN '93 [Aug 1993] [Japanese release]

I WISH I COULD CRY [Version 5] [Live]

Released as a CD single [1997]

NOTE: New production of Version 3 by Rod Argent, Pete van Hook and Gilbert.

I WISH SOMETHING GOOD

Released on the album GILBERTVILLE [Jan 2011]

I WONDER WOULD YOU MIND

Released on the album A STRANGER IN MY OWN BACK YARD [Oct 1974]

NOTE: Produced by Gordon Mills.  Recorded at A and R Studios, New York and Sunset Sound Studios, Los Angeles.

At this stage, it was a rare Gilbert recording that featured just singer and piano.  However, the semi-formal intricacy of the piano part subtly reflecting the buttoned-up hesitancy of the narrator’s attempts at courtship makes for a highlight of the album.

GILBERT: “It took a long time to master that part!  Nice and bare.  I was ready at that point to do an album of piano and voice, because that’s how I wrote.  Randy Newman had done one, so had Laura Nyro, but Gordon didn’t want me to.  I didn’t do it until By Larry [1994].”

IF I CAN'T HAVE YOU ALL TO MYSELF

Released on the album SOUTHPAW [Nov 1977]

NOTE: Featuring a slightly barmy choir, this frantic disco tune tells of a ‘loner’ Lothario who wakes up to find that he doesn’t want a particular lady to leave, and is hurt by her refusal to dedicate herself exclusively to him.

GILBERT: “Maybe a hint of autobiography there, but really just a premise for a song.  It rocks, and again Chris really goes to town on the old guitar.”

IF I DON'T GET YOU (BACK AGAIN)

Released on the album HIMSELF [Oct 1971]

NOTE: Lilting and lovely boss nova-pop with a counter melody in the middle and an unexpected shift to the minor at the end, this is one of Gilbert’s customised, deceptive love songs in which the faintly bitter asides (‘Don’t forget, you once delayed me, wonder why’) hint at a deeper story.

GILBERT: “It’s just another twist on the way you meet and get to know somebody.  I’ve always liked the line, ‘Ooh, I won’t half feel the pain’, the Englishness of it.  But it’s a lovely melody, and I love counter melodies.  That’s an art form a few of us can do.  McCartney was the first one I heard do that.”

IF I KNOW YOU

Released on the album LIFE & RHYMES [Oct 1982]

NOTE: On one level, “If I Know You” is a heart-tugging, heartbroken song directed at a malevolent woman, similar in theme to “You Don’t Own Me” and Off Centre’s “For What It’s Worth”.  But it’s impossible not to interpret the heavy air of betrayal and sadness reflecting bitter feelings about a former friend (see also Southpaw’s “Tomorrow Today”).

GILBERT: “Graham came up with that odd rhythm.  Again, it’s really all about Gordon.  In Every Song Has Its Play (Gilbert’s autobiographical musical play performed in 1991, released in 1995) “You Don’t Own Me” and “If I Know You” are linked and performed together as one song.  Guest bass guitarist on this, by the way, was Graham.”

IF I START WITH THE CHORUS [Version 1]

Released on the album FROBISHER DRIVE [Nov 1987]

NOTE: A quirky little piece in which Gilbert celebrates the liberation of seeing things differently and making the most of happy accidents.  Discreetly arranged to make the most of the startling flourish of strings in the bridge (which Gilbert contrarily calls the ‘ verse’), the song also features the appearance of a Greek Chorus (see also ‘Houdini Said’, ‘Tomorrow Today’), a device which lends a striking theatricality to the proceedings.

GILBERT: “That’s my love of musicals, and it makes me smile.  I’m currently working on a song called ‘Me Mum’ soon to be recorded with a twenty-piece Welsh Male Voice choir.  Should be interesting!”

IF I START WITH THE CHORUS [Version 2]

Released on the album IN THE KEY OF G [Nov 1989]

IF ONLY WE KNEW

Unreleased

NOTE: Backing track recorded for this song at the British Grove Studios in January 2013.

IF YOU COMMENCE BEFORE THE START

Released on the album EVERY SONG HAS ITS PLAY [May 1995]

NOTE: Gilbert doesn't sing on this track. A short, very visual coda where the listener can easily imagine a gaily costumed chorus tramping on and off the stage.

GILBERT: "A typical piece of O'Sullivan postscript nonsense."

IF YOU EVER

Released on the album A STRANGER IN MY OWN BACK YARD [Oct 1974]

NOTE: An attractive melody, some resonant lines (“Everything’s glued on, nothing is screwed on”) and a skilful use of the delightfully old-fashioned ‘pause for thought’ device.  It’s also one of Gilbert’s most evocative songs, alluding lightly to recurring areas of Gilbertian interest, notably school (see also “I Remember Once”, “School Meals”).

GILBERT: “Schmaltzy but nice.  The school stuff is true.  In Swindon, between junior school and secondary modern we were in army huts in the Old Town which had no heating, just a fire in the middle for logs.  We had a Scottish teacher who wore a strap on his shoulder and if he saw you doing anything wrong he would whip it out and whack you with it.  Scary.”

IF YOU LOVE ME LIKE YOU LOVE ME

Released on the album I'M A WRITER NOT A FIGHTER [Sept 1973]

NOTE: A fulsome tribute to a loved one couched in a series of questions indicating, among other qualities, the subject’s sensitivity (‘Who can see what I can see before I even know?’) and good humour (‘Who can smile when I get riled and make me do the same?’).

GILBERT: “It’s not based on personal experience, but perhaps I was thinking, is that what I want?  ‘Who can roll me over, knock me down and pick me up,’ isn’t that what we all want?  It’s getting into the mode of a love song.  I like romance, serious issues, lightweight songs.  I see it as my role as a good lyricist.  It’s what makes nine-to-five, four weeks a month, several months a year so interesting.”

I'LL BE THE LONELY ONE

Released on the album SINGER SOWING MACHINE [Nov 1997] [Japanese Release]

I'LL BELIEVE IT WHEN I SEE IT

Released as a single [Aug 1975]

NOTE: A massive H.B. Barnum arrangement of a song about infidelity with a ‘60s Ray Charles feel, especially in the final choruses Gilbert interjects soulful extemporisation between the female backing vocals.

GILBERT: “It’s observing that classic situation away from home, being with someone else who isn’t your spouse.  It’s an adulterous woman in the song, but I reversed the sexes.”

I'LL NEVER LET YOU GO

Released on the album RARE TRACKS [Apr 1992] [Japanese release]

I'M A WRITER NOT A FIGHTER

Released on the album I'M A WRITER NOT A FIGHTER [Sept 1973]

NOTE: Breaking with a tradition established on his previous two albums, Gilbert avoids a miniature musical introduction to the album and instead offers a rare moment featuring his own spoken voice.  Adorned with clavinet and electric harpsichord, as well a harmonica solo by Gordon Mills, the title track of the record threatens to be a funky affair but soon changes gear to become a jaunty put-down of mindless violence.  It also features Gilbert's most unfettered vocalising to date.

GILBERT: "I was singing without playing the piano, which was unusual for me.  And I like doing that, to this day; there's a nice freedom about it.  An interesting opener and a good title for the album."

I'M ABOUT

Released on the album SINGER SOWING MACHINE [Nov 1997] [Japanese Release]

I'M IN LOVE WITH LOVE (AGAIN)

Released on the album A SCRUFF AT HEART [Oct 2006]

I'M IN LOVE WITH YOU

Released on the album BACK TO FRONT [Oct 1972]

NOTE: A dark, bluesy shuffle drenched in the juicy slide guitar of Big Jim Sullivan, a mainstay of Gilbert’s records of the period.

GILBERT: “Another bluesy song that came out of my time with Rick Davies [see also ‘Thunder And Lightning’ and ‘Tell Me Why’] Also, at that time I was listening to, amongst others, The Staple Singers, in particular ’Respect Yourself’.”

I'M LEAVING

Released on the album BACK TO FRONT [Oct 1972]

NOTE: Starting with an arresting octave synthesiser sweep, ‘I’m Leaving’ is a rocking rant about urban claustrophobia which crescendos into a ‘Get Back-like gallop before segueing into Gilbert’s cheery farewell.

GILBERT: “Another of my Fats Domino-style rockers.  It could be a nod to Swindon not quite making it to city status.  I was raised in the town, proud of the fact and with my mother and sisters still living there, for me it’s home from home.”

I'M NOT GETTING ANY YOUNGER [Version 1]

Released on the album OFF CENTRE [Oct 1980]

NOTE: A gentle Gilbertian epic reflecting on mortality, the complications of May/September romance and how the rebels of the last generation soon become the under-respected elders of the next.

GILBERT: “I really like the subject, dealing with aging and related matters.  Plus the stop-start of the tempo.  All the voices were done by Alan Carvell, who was very well known in the business for that type of multi-tracking.”

I'M NOT GETTING ANY YOUNGER [Version 2]

Released on the album LOVE SONGS [March 2013]

NOTE: Described as "Piano version"

I'M NOT TOO YOUNG

Released on the album SOUNDS OF THE LOOP [Nov 1991] [Japanese release]

NOTE: A sad-eyed rumination on what the world can do to its children (whether divisive educational streaming, political indoctrination or in utero infection), sung from the point of view of both a precocious eleven year-old and a baby.

GILBERT: “A bit of a classic chord sequence, C – D minor – G, and a slightly predictable verse/melody, but I really like the lyric.”

IN A NUTSHELL

Released as the b-side on the single SO WHAT [Feb 1990]

NOTE: A musically fertile song which finds Gilbert full of left-field, free-association invention amid swelling synthesiser chords and falsetto backing vocals.

GILBERT: “Again, just me on the Prophet keyboard and electric piano.  I really like it and I’ve tried to play it recently, but I can’t figure out the chords.  That annoys me!”

IN BED BY TEN [Version 1]

Released on the album SINGER SOWING MACHINE [Jan 1997] [Japanese Release]

IN BED BY TEN [Version 2]

Released as track 2 on the CD single I WISH I COULD CRY [1997]

IN MY HOLE

Released on the album BACK TO FRONT [Oct 1972]

NOTE: An orch-pop extravaganza with a hint of Hugh Masekela’s 1968 hit ‘Grazin’ In The Grass’ in the Johnny Spence-scored trumpet parts.  The lyric concerns an irritable hermit who would rather sit in his hole ‘playing with the dirt’ than engage with the world around him.  The daisy that sat in the middle of the bed and so irritated his landlord Freestone was called, of course Maisie.

GILBERT: “I’ve always liked the song because it pretty well sums me up; on my own, in my hole.  Similar to Brian Wilson’s ‘In My Room’, mine’s the English version.  Freestone was the name of one of the guys on the floor with me when I worked at C & A.  Maisie, I have no idea other than it rhymes with Daisy”.

IN OTHER WORDS

Released as the b-side on the single A MINUTE OF YOUR TIME [June 1982]

NOTE: There’s a hint of J.J. Cale in this slinky, Rhodes-driven track, one of Gilbert’s most intriguing B-sides in which he observes that you can’t skin a rabbit when he’s off and running (“he’s so cunning”) and that he doesn’t care for the (Rubik’s) cube.

GILBERT: “This is just me, a drum machine and synth bass, recorded at the same session as “Wonder Why” in a couple of hours.”

INDEPENDENT AIR

Released on the album HIMSELF [Aug 1971]

NOTE: An ambitious, portentous piece featuring an excellent horn arrangement and boasting some fine elusive, allusive lines; “So why should I hesitate/Not letting out my independent air/That sweet of aroma of contentment.”

GILBERT: “The dark side, authors will tell you, is what you get the most feeling for.  It’s not poetry, it’s lyrics, an art form in itself; there’s a distinct line.  I like using words in an odd way, which don’t necessarily need to make a great deal of sense to anybody else but myself.  But to this day, ‘Independent Air’ is the kind of song people pick up on; not a commercial track, one of those tracks that has a little life of its own.”

INTRO - I HOPE YOU'LL STAY

Released on the album BACK TO FRONT [Oct 1972]

NOTE: In the Gilbertian tradition established on his debut album, Himself, O’Sullivan bids a miniature welcome to listeners, including those who are leaving to ‘join a hunt’.  Then, a seamless stitch onto a hospitable opener set to a familiar lope; tea, romance and left turn into the unemployment problem.

GILBERT: “In 1971/72, one million unemployed was incredibly serious.  I’ve always done that; pick up on what’s happening around me, incorporate it into a simple song, albeit in a subtle way.”

INTRO

Released on the album HIMSELF [Aug 1971]

NOTE: Bookending the album with a miniature musical ditty was something of a novelty.

GILBERT: “That was peculiar to me.  Just to be different.  It made the record that little bit more personal.  I carried the tradition on up to Southpaw (1977).”

INTRO

Released on the album SOUTHPAW [Nov 1977] [A-side]

NOTE: This track is called INTRODUCTION on the CARICATURE -THE BOX [Jan 2004].  The Mike Sammes Singers had been asked to do some wacky things before (not least the woops and chants on the Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus”), but singing what a pleasure it was (as long as they were paid) to introduce Gilbert’s new LP was a new one on them.

GILBERT: “It’s a good intro.  They loved it.”

INTRO

Released on the album SOUTHPAW [Nov 1977] [B-side]

NOTE: A jolly, typically musically detailed welcome to the original second side of the vinyl release.

GILBERT: “This was the last time I would do it.  You’ve got to be aware of the novelty wearing off.”

IS IT A CRIME [Version 1]

Released on the album LIFE & RHYMES [Oct 1982]

NOTE: A questioning, gospel tinged love song containing an aching dichotomy throughout; even as the singer expresses his devotion and vulnerability, so he also ruefully notes the potential disapproval all around him.

GILBERT: “I like the song, but was never really mad about the recording.  I had the strings removed.  We do it live on occasion, very stripped down with good vocal harmonies.”

IS IT A CRIME [Version 2] [Live]

Released on the album THE BEST OF GILBERT O'SULLIVAN - LIVE IN JAPAN [1995]

NOTE: Recorded at Nakano-Sunplaza, Tokyo in Feb 1993.

IT AIN'T FOR ME [Version 1]

Released on the album THE LITTLE ALBUM [Nov 1992] [Japanese release]

NOTE: A cheerful, folky Dylan-esque celebration of low-maintenance self-sufficiency and a nomandic life dating from the 1960s, complete with a brass fanfare and a gentle wave of strings in the bridge.

GILBERT: That's me plating the piano like a guitar, I like that.  There's a lot of me in the song, a lot of self-belief.  And even if you're financially secure, it's useful to recognise that you can still be happy without a penny in your pocket."

IT AIN'T FOR ME [Version 2] [Live]

Recorded at duo Music Exchange, Tokyo in June 2004 and released on the DVD/CD set LIVE AT DUO MUSIC EXCHANGE [Feb 2005]

IT NEVER RAINS BUT IT POURS

Released on the album PIANO FOREPLAY [May 2003]

IT'S A SHAME ALL THE SAME

Unreleased

NOTE: Backing track recorded for this song at the British Grove Studios in January 2013.

IT'S ABOUT TIME

Released on the 3 CD set CARICATURE - THE BOX [Jan 2004]

NOTE: 1967 Demo.  This is the only release that this song is available on.

IT'S EASY TO SEE WHEN YOU'RE BLIND [Version 1]

Released on the album SOUNDS OF THE LOOP [Nov 1991] [Japanese release]

NOTE: An appreciation of the pride and unsullied insight of the sightless, coupled with a pessimistic (if true) projection into a future where computers will be ‘running our lives’.

GILBERT: “Good song, and accurate, don’t you think?  There’s another song of mine called ‘They’re Blind’ written in 1968 which I never recorded.”

IT'S EASY TO SEE WHEN YOU'RE BLIND [Version 2] [Live]

Released on the album TOMORROW TODAY LIVE IN JAPAN '93 [Aug 1993] [Japanese release]

IT'S EASY TO BE SAD

Released on the album A STRANGER IN MY OWN BACK YARD [Oct 1974]

NOTE: This interesting song observes that rueful nostalgia and self-pity is all around us and, on balance, is an outlook best resisted.  The last third of the track features some clever double-time lyrics and a haunting, echoed vocal refrain amid lovely string laden harmonies.

GILBERT: “It’s my mother’s sister’s favourite song of mine.  I like the lines about looking at the statue in the square, and I like the fact it goes off on a diversion at the end, making a political point in a light-hearted way.”

I'VE NEVER BEEN SHORT OF A SMILE

Released on the album EVERY SONG HAS ITS PLAY [May 1995]

NOTE: A rousing, memorable tune chock-full of carefully crafted lyrics promoting good cheer in the face of bad experiences, this is Gilbert's elegant equivalent of Monty Python's "Always look On The Bright Side Of Life".  It comes complete with a choral middle section inspired by the musical Seven Brides For Seven Brothers.

GILBERT: "It's a good way to be, isn't it.  I've never sung it on stage, but perhaps I should; I can see it as a closing number of a concert.  Upbeat and optimistic!"

JANUARY GIT

Released on the album HIMSELF [Aug 1971]

NOTE: Stuffed full of unusual turns of phrase (“mundane conjectural”), unpredictable chords and bits of fussy, brassy business, this swinging smorgasbord might defy literal interpretation, but is enormous fun. 

GILBERT: “It’s a play on words, ‘Jan, you hairy git’, that’s a Liverpudlian expression.  You don’t have to necessarily understand the lyric to enjoy the record.  And for all the effort I put into lyrics, at times I feel they are not necessarily that important.  But there’s nothing throwaway here, there never is with me, the finished lyric was all I wanted it to be, understandable or not.”

JUST AS YOU ARE

Released as the b-side on the single I'LL BELIEVE IT WHEN I SEE IT [Aug 1975]

NOTE: A light-hearted portrait of an unglamorous romance, complete with Semprini-style piano.  She’s flat-chested, she falls down drunk and her gay brother has just emerged from a spell in prison, but he loves her just the same.

GILBERT: “A B-side was needed, I just went in on my own and did it.  A silly little thing, but it brings a smile to your face.  The Semprini piano solo was recorded at half-speed to make it sound like I could play it.”

JUST LIKE ME

Released on the album A STRANGER IN MY OWN BACK YARD [Oct 1974]

NOTE: Name-checking Little Richard and Chuck Berry, this track grooves along nicely, one of the funkiest things Gilbert ever did.

GILBERT: “A bit of Chuck Berry rocker.  Maybe influenced by the early Stones, I love “Route 66” from their first album.”

JUST SO YOU KNOW

Released on the album A SCRUFF AT HEART [Oct 2006] [Japanese release]

KNOW WHAT, YOU'RE RIGHT

Released on the album A SCRUFF AT HEART [Oct 2006] [UK release]

NOTE: This song replaced I KNOW WHAT I WOULD DO from the Japanese release of A SCRUFF AT HEART.

LET'S NOT GO THERE

Released on the album A SCRUFF AT HEART [Oct 2006] [Japanese release]

LIVE NOW PAY LATER

Released on the album LIFE & RHYMES [Oct 1982]

NOTE: Exuding an atmosphere of financial ruthlessness and double-dealing, this beady-eyed critique of a culture of instant gratification funded by credit is an expertly delivered piece of pop-rock.  Featuring hyperactive double-time choruses and a scornful, bluesy vocal from Gilbert, there’s a meticulous 10cc-sequel attention to the production and arrangement detail.

GILBERT: “Good work from Graham (Gouldman).  He was well into his vocal harmonies; that’s his thing.  Some of it came out a bit more 10cc than perhaps it would have with Eric, but in for a penny, in for a pound.”

LOOKING (A TALE OF TWO MEANINGS)

Released on the album LIFE & RHYMES [Oct 1982]

NOTE: Full of wordplay (“looking for a tie that won’t get knotted”), opaquely allusive lines (“A sale is the time you find out everything’s cheap / Only prices remain unchanged”) and paranoid humour (“I’m wondering if the girl I married this morning / Wants us to get divorced”), this track revels in its playful, Millegan-esque absurdity.

GILBERT: “Really good work from Graham (Gouldman) on this and one of my favourite tracks on the album.  I was lightening things up a little, having fun with the words.  Nonsense but with meaning.  I love things like that.”

LOST A FRIEND

Released on the album FROBISHER DRIVE [Nov 1987]

NOTE: A heartfelt reaction to John Lennon’s death which also touches on the career security of gravediggers and how money can’t buy you eternal life.  The warm, enveloping sound of the Fender Rhodes electric piano has an almost comforting quality, which the starkness and insistent heartbeat percussion recalls the Beatles’ ‘Blackbird’ (as well as Gilbert’s own ‘Miss My Love Today’).  The final moment could even be a subconscious reference to the surprise ending chord of ‘And I Love Her’.

GILBERT: “We can all relate to feeling affected by reading about somebody special meeting an untimely end, even if we didn’t know them.  I performed it in Newcastle just after Gary Speed (welsh football manager and former player) died, and it was received well.  I’m very proud of that song.”

LOVE YOU OUT OF TROUBLE

Released on the album A SCRUFF AT HEART [Oct 2006]

LOVE BEING FAXED BY YOU

Released on the album IRLISH [June 2000]

MAKE MY DAY [Version 1]

Released on the album PIANO FOREPLAY [May 2003]

MAKE MY DAY [Version 2] [Live]

Recorded at duo Music Exchange, Tokyo in June 2004 and released on the DVD/CD set LIVE AT DUO MUSIC EXCHANGE [Feb 2005]

MARY AND ME

Unreleased

NOTE: An early song of Gilbert's, not yet recorded and mentioned in the "Out On His Own" documentary.

MATRIMONY [Version 1]

Released on the album HIMSELF [Aug 1971]

NOTE: In many ways, Gilbert’s signature piece, even though it was never released as a single.  With its infectious melodies and festive Latin atmosphere (especially) in the inspired middle section), one might be fooled into thinking this is a celebration of no-frills nuptials, though again the author’s actual viewpoint is somewhat removed.

GILBERT: “I believe in marriage and being married in a church, but ‘Matrimony' is about running off and doing it in a registry office, and to hell with the parents.  So you can become that 3rd person, even though it may be not what you’re about.”

MATRIMONY [Version 2] [Live]

Released on the album TOMORROW TODAY LIVE IN JAPAN '93 [Aug 1993] [Japanese release]

NOTE: Recorded at Nakano-Sunplaza, Tokyo, Tokyo in Feb 1993.

ME

Released on the album IRLISH [June 2000]

ME - REPRISE

Released on the album IRLISH [June 2000] [Japanese release]

NOTE: This track is called END-VIRONMENTAL PIECE on the 3 CD set CARICATURE - THE BOX [Jan 2004].

ME MUM

Released as a single [March 2013]

NOTE: Gilbert teamed up with the Treorchy Male Choir and released this track on Mother's Day 2013.

MIDDLE AGED DREAD

Released on the 3 CD set CARICATURE - THE BOX [Jan 2004]

NOTE: This appears to be a compilation of three songs "Grey Hairs", "Fast Approaching 40" and "Let's Not Kid Ourselves". Gilbert performed "Grey Hairs" at Ronnie Scotts in 2002.  This is the only release that this song is available on.

MISS MY LOVE TODAY [Version 1]

Released on the album SOUTHPAW [Nov 1977]

NOTE: This is superbly haunting track, marrying an almost European folk-style melody with electric piano, desolate sound effects and a solo from Tony Hymas.

GILBERT: “One of my best songs.  Just a Fender Rhodes with vibrato on, live vocal and a foot tap, similar to Paul McCartney on The Beatles track “Blackbird’.”

MISS MY LOVE TODAY [Version 2]

Released on the album HIS 20 MOST BEAUTIFUL SONGS [1989]

NOTE: Same as Version 1 but without the count in.

MISS MY LOVE TODAY [Version 3] [Live]

Released on the album TOMORROW TODAY LIVE IN JAPAN '93 [Aug 1993] [Dutch release]

MISSING YOU ALREADY

Released on the album GILBERTVILLE [Jan 2011]

MR AND MRS REGARDS [Version 1]

Released on the album THE HUMBLE BEGINNING OF ENGLAND'S GILBERT O'SULLIVAN AND GERRY DORSEY [1972]

MR AND MRS REGARDS [Version 2

Released on the album THE LITTLE ALBUM [Nov 1992] [Japanese release]

NOTE: One more very playful, very opaque, highly individual 1960s Gilbert song, complete with oblique references to such in-the-air topics as Jonathan King, an Alan Freeman catchphrase ("stay bright") and G-Plan furniture.

GILBERT: "It's pure O'Sullivan, it's really like nobody else.  Melodically it has a Catholic hymn influence, but there's an originality there that I'm proud of."

MR MOODY'S GARDEN [Version 1

Released as a single [May 1969]

NOTE: A favourite of Gilbert’s and sung regularly in concert.  Simple vocal and piano, with a college friend supplying voices.

GILBERT: “Very much a song of the time.  ‘Down among the partridge trees/lives a man who loves his knees’ is a reference to Don Partridge, who was popular at that time.  Bill and Ben are there, John Wesley ‘Hardin’ is there.  Nobody needs to know this mind you, but I enjoyed writing it.”

MR MOODY'S GARDEN [Version 2]

Released as the b-side on the single I WISH I COULD CRY [Aug 1971]

NOTE: Produced by Gilbert with piano intro.

MY ADVICE TO YOU

Released on the album THE LITTLE ALBUM [Nov 1992] [Japanese release]

NOTE: Another tautly constructed, memorable pop song fom the early '60s, ex-Manfred Mann singer Paul Jones covered this O'Sullivan tune and released it as a single in 1968, two years into his solo career.

GILBERT: "It's a cute little tune.  Along with the Tremoloes covering "You" and "Come On Home" in 1967, Paul Jones's recording was one of my first covers."

MY FATHER

Released on the album A STRANGER IN MY OWN BACK YARD [Oct 1974]

NOTE: One of Gilbert’s kitchen-sink portraits, the character singing this seems to belong on the same street, perhaps even the same family, as the people in his earlier songs “Permissive Twit” and “What Could Be Nicer”.  The conspicuous lack of rhyme at the end of each stanza amusingly underlines the awkwardness of this endearing, strawberry-scoffing delinquent.

GILBERT: “I always had the line ‘I shudder to think what my father would think’, which rattled me, because the song is nothing to do with my father.  I did it live around 1975 and the trombone player would come out and do the solo around the piano.”

MY FRONT DOOR IS [Version 1]

Unreleased

NOTE: Performed on John Peel's Top Gear programmes on 19/5/68 on BBC Radio.

MY FRONT DOOR IS [Version 2]

Unreleased

NOTE: Early demo.

MY FRONT DOOR IS [Version 3]

Released on the album THE LITTLE ALBUM [Nov 1992] [Japanese release]

NOTE: Like "Mr. And Mrs. Regards" and "Thats", this dates from 1964/65 when Gilbert was 18 or 19 and is replete with unconventional emphases of syllables, hanging rhymes that belong in the next line and playful English music hall/psychedelic imagery.  O'Sullivan as a young individual.

GILBERT: "This is quite a unique little song.  If anyone challanged me to the point to something I'd done that was truly original, lyrically, I'd point to this, along with "Mr. And Mrs. Regards" and "Thats"."

MY LOVE AND I

Released as a single [May 1977]

NOTE: Regret about the end of an affair leads to despair at a hostile, scary present and a general nostalgia for innocent days.  This features a relatively rare but telling instance of Gilbert vocally harmonising with himself.

GILBERT:  “This is the second track arranged by Andrew Powell.  It was influenced by McCartney’s ‘For No One’.  I came up with the melodic brass solo in the middle, an aspect of arranging.

MY PLACE OR YOURS

Released on the album A SCRUFF AT HEART [Oct 2006] [Japanese release]

NEVER SAY DI

Released as an iTunes download [July 2008]

NEVER TALK TO PEOPLE

Unreleased

NOTE: Unfinished track, performed on the BBC TV 1971 In Concert programme

NEW SONG

Released on the 3 CD set CARICATURE - THE BOX [Jan 2004]

NOTE: This is the only release that this song is available on.

NO MATTER HOW I TRY [Version 1]

Released as a single [Nov 1971]

NOTE: One of Gilbert’s great singles, sufficiently catchy to make number 5 in the UK and a fertile enough composition to include a second middle section.

GILBERT: “Lovely counter melody played on the guitar by Big Jim Sullivan which reappears in the last verse.  It was the first of my double-tracked vocals.  Gordon thought it added commercial appeal.  Ask George Martin about this on early Beatle recordings.  From then on, many of the singles were DT-ed.”

NO MATTER HOW I TRY [Version 2] [Live]

Released on the album TOMORROW TODAY LIVE IN JAPAN '93 [Aug 1993] [Japanese release]

NOTE: Recorded at Nakano-Sunplaza, Tokyo in Feb 1993.

NO MORE

Released on the album A STRANGER IN MY OWN BACK YARD [Oct 1974]

NOTE: An archetypal Gilbert song which evokes the flat-capped Himself persona; the eccentric, gauche outsider with a highly individual idea of romance.

GILBERT: “Yes, that’s an old song, one of my Swindon songs.  I remember demoing it for Columbia in 1966.  It’s the tradition of the Lovin Spoonful’s “Daydream”, the Kinks’ “Sunny Afternoon” and the Beatles’ “Good Day Sunshine”; a good-time, old-time song, ultimately harking back to Fats Waller.”

NO TELLING WHY

Released on the album SOUTHPAW [Nov 1977]

NOTE: Sung from the point of view of a man who has fallen for another man’s wife, the simple melody recalling classic early ‘60s songs like “Save The Last Dance For Me” and the reassuringly exotic Paraguayan harp work as an intriguingly incongruous juxtaposition to the tortured emotions at the heart of the song.

GILBERT: “I’m a good observer and I observed many men having extra-marital affairs with women, it was going on all around me.  A sad situation.”

NOBODY

Unreleased

NOTE: A song written by Gilbert in the 60s, never recorded but played live on the 2010 & 2011 tours in a waltz tempo and sung initially with just an accordion accompaniment and later on the 2012 tour the band joined in half way through the song.

NOBODY WANTS TO KNOW

Released on the album EVERY SONG HAS ITS PLAY [May 1995]

NOTE: A wistful minor melody reflecting the singer's sorry dilemma of being in a business no longer interested in him.

GILBERT: "Obviously relevant to the tale, and still relevant today!  Yes, there's hurt there, but the optimism comes from the person writing it.  There's nothing depressed about the author, he's not lost to that misery.  But he is writing about something that he understands; the perception is accurate."

NOT IN A MILLION YEARS

Released on the album I'M A WRITER NOT A FIGHTER [Sept 1973]

NOTE: One of those left-field musical gems often to be found tucked away on a Gilbert album (see also “The Golden Rule” on Back To Front), “Not In A Million Years” is full of unexpected melodic and harmonic riches.  Here the singer challenges everyday assumptions and contemplates what would happen if the sun didn’t come up, or stars crashed down to earth, or if then planet really was flat, or if zoo-bound animals took over the planet.

GILBERT: “It’s an eco-song.  What if these things we take for granted were reversed?  Musically, I couldn’t play it now if I tried.  I found out later that people don’t even use that phrase colloquially; they say ‘never in a million years’.  Not not (Who’s there?)”

NOT SO GREAT BRITAIN

Released on the album SINGER SOWING MACHINE [Nov 1997] [Japanese Release]

NOT THAT IT BOTHERS ME [Version 1]

Released on the album SOUNDS OF THE LOOP [Nov 1991] [Japanese Release]

NOTE: A delicate, ironic bossa nova frames the touching tale of a man whose love for an older woman causes his parents to disown him, not that it bothers him of course.

GILBERT: “A little Latin thing I had for years with an interesting scenario and a typically English phrase.”

NOT THAT IT BOTHERS ME [Version 2] [Live]

Released on the album TOMORROW TODAY LIVE IN JAPAN '93 [Aug 1993] [Japanese release]

NOTE: Recorded at Nakano-Sunplaza, Tokyo in Feb 1993.

NOT THIS TIME BUT MAYBE THE NEXT

Unreleased

NOTE: A song recorded during Gilbert's very first recording session.

NOTHING RHYMED [Version 1]

Released as a single [Oct 1970]

NOTE: Featuring Herbie Flowers’s distinctive opening bass note, a heartbreaking melody, and aching hiatuses in momentum serving as ‘pauses for thought’, ‘Nothing Rhymed’ is Gilbert’s early masterpiece.  A moving, astute, superbly economical song which evokes how close right is to wrong, winning is to losing, plentiful is to poverty.  When Richard Curtis received his special BAFTA award in 2007, he quoted lines from the song, crediting them as sparking his inspiration to form Comic Relief.

GILBERT: “You couldn’t argue that some people like Nothing Rhymed for the melody, other people liked the lyrics.  I worked hard on both, so I’m really pleased if the postman is humming the tune, and somebody else is talking about the lyric.”

NOTHING RHYMED [Version 2] [Live]

Released on the album TOMORROW TODAY LIVE IN JAPAN '93 [Aug 1993] [Japanese release]

NOTE: Recorded at Nakano-Sunplaza, Tokyo in Feb 1993.

NOTHING TO DO ABOUT MUCH

Released on the album A STRANGER IN MY OWN BACK YARD [Oct 1974] 

NOTE: One of Gilbert’s most vivid characters depicted jaded, lonely and frustrated.  While he allows himself a glorious finale of gratitude for what he has, he intimates that tears are not far away.

GILBERT: “This is all about me.  I wrote the lyric in Portugal where it was all sun, pool, nightclubs.  Fine for a couple of weeks, but you soon get bored.  Musically, it was influenced by the Joni Mitchell/L.A. Express albums featuring Tom Scott, who is on this track.  Great player.”

NOTHING TO FEAR

Released on the album EVERY SONG HAS ITS PLAY [May 1995]

NOTE: Sung by the 'manager', here played by the singer Mike Dore, "Nothing To Fear" conveys a brassy, brash confidence with the character, in an ironic moment, promising he would "look after your songs, every one".

GILBERT: "There are elements of Gordon in this song, but he never told me to write a song everyone could hum.  he was always open to whatever song I had.  I death with his behaviour more comprehensively in the play itself."

NOW AT LAST

Unreleased

NUMBER 4

Released on the album A STRANGER IN MY OWN BACK YARD [Oct 1974]

NOTE: Produced by Gordon Mills.  Recorded at A and R Studios, New York and Sunset Sound Studios, Los Angeles.

A revival of Gilbert’s mini musical welcome to his record comprised a potted history of his three previous LPs and a celebration of his fourth, complete with grand strings sawing out plangent chords in a mock epic style.

GILBERT: “In those days I did look at the odd review and I was criticised for the Back To Front intro, so I gave it a rest for I’m A Writer Not A Fighter.  But for this one I thought I’d bring it back.  They’re nice little tunes, why not?  These days I have little tailpieces of unfinished songs as kind of hidden bonus tracks.”

ONCE A CATHOLIC ALWAYS A CATHOLIC

Unreleased

NOTE: Mentioned in an interview with the Hotpress magazine [Oct 2007]

ONE DOOR CLOSES

Released on the album A SCRUFF AT HEART [Oct 2006] [Japanese release]

ONE DRINK TOO MANY (TOO FEW)

Released on the album GILBERTVILLE [Jan 2011]

OOH BABY [Version 1]

Released as a single [Aug 1973]

NOTE: This dark-hued rocker features uncharacteristically portentous minor and diminished chords and a muscular, dynamic performance from the rhythm section.  The follow-up single to the number 1 “Get Down”, it achieved number 18 in the UK and number 25 in the US.

GILBERT: “That actually made the blacks charts in America, which was a big deal in those days, I was quite proud of that.  Elaine Delmar, a well known and popular UK soul singer, sang a really sexy version of it on a TV special I did back then.  So it has its moments.  But I’ve never performed it myself on stage, the repetition annoys me a little, too many ‘Ooh Babys!”

OOH BABY [Version 2]

Released as a single [Sept 1973] [USA release]

NOTE: Version has one chorus less and was later available on BEST HITS AND RARITIES [June 2004]

OOH BABY [Version 3]

Released as track 1 on a CD single [Dec 2002]

NOTE: Radio Mix by Goldbug.

OOH BABY [Version 4]

Released as track 2 on a CD single [Dec 2002]

NOTE: Vocoder Mix by Goldbug.

OOH BABY [Version 5]

Released as track 3 on a CD single [Dec 2002]

NOTE: Vocal Mix by Goldbug.

OOH BABY [Version 6]

Released as track 4 on a CD single [Dec 2002]

NOTE: Radio FX Mix by Goldbug

OOH WAKKA DOO WAKKA DAY

Released as a single [May 1972]

NOTE: In the tradition of nonsensical pop song phrases (‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’, ‘Da-Do-Ron-Ron’, ‘Do Wah Diddy’) that manage to express a kind of optimistic fatalism, the merry, faintly suggestive ‘Ooh Wakka Doo Wakka Day’ was in startling contrast to the downbeat beauty of ‘Alone Again (Naturally)’.  Though sniffed at by some critics, the record had no problem making the UK top ten.

GILBERT: “The phrase ‘wakka-doo-wakka-doo’ is pure English music hall.  McCartney’s influence led me back to music hall, in the same way some of Ray Davies’s songs have.  As an Irish person by birth but an English songwriter, I’m proud of the roots of that song.”

OR SO THEY SAY [Version 1]

Released on the album OFF CENTRE [Oct 1980]

NOTE: A bit of typical if portentous O’Sullivan wordplay that manages to touch on advertising hyperbole, cricket and the absence of an afterlife amid a suitably grandiose arrangement.

GILBERT: “Cricket verse makes me smile.  Very popular in Australia!  And this is a stand out track on the current tour.  Nice way to finish.”

OR SO THEY SAY [Version 2] [Live]

Released on the album TOMORROW TODAY LIVE IN JAPAN '93 [Aug 1993] [Dutch release]

NOTE: Recorded at Nakano-Sunplaza, Tokyo in Feb 1993.

OUR OWN BABY

Released as the b-side on the single MISS MY LOVE TODAY [Feb 1978] 

NOTE: Apart from a brief mention of children not being telephoned in “I’ll Believe It When I See It”, this may be the first reference to the ‘next generation’ in Gilbert’s oeuvre, a sure sign of a maturing man.

GILBERT: : “One of my sweet songs, but no harm in that.  What could be nicer than having your own baby?  Nice solo from Gordon on harmonica and a lovely bit of vibraphone to end it.”

OUT OF THE QUESTION [Version 1]

Released on the album BACK TO FRONT [Oct 1972] 

NOTE: Beaten at the 11th hour by ‘Alone Again (Naturally)’ as Gilbert’s first 1972 single, ‘Out Of The Question’, considered more commercial, was later released as a US-only single, achieving number 17 in the Hot 100 in 1973.  By the end of the track, our hero is so bamboozled by his lover’s mood-swings that he resorts to a breathless litany of complaints.  Serving as an ingenious counterpoint motif to the main theme, it foreshows a similar device used in Carol Bayer Sager’s 1977 hit ‘You’re Moving Out Today’.

GILBERT: “There’s no reason why I shouldn’t have influenced people.  I remember the producer Tom Dowd pointing out to me that ‘Tie A Yellow Ribbon’ incorporated part of the melody of ‘Alone Again’.  It’s quite flattering.  And we’re all guilty of it; we don’t do it purposely and shouldn’t.  Suffice to say there isn’t a composer down the years from Berlin to the Beatles that hasn’t done it.”

OUT OF THE QUESTION [Version 2] [Live]

Recorded at duo Music Exchange, Tokyo in June 2004 and released on the DVD/CD set LIVE AT DUO MUSIC EXCHANGE [Feb 2005]

OUTRO

Released on the album BACK TO FRONT [Oct 1972] [A-side]

OUTRO

Released on the album BACK TO FRONT [Oct 1972] [B-side]

OUTRO

Released on the album HIMSELF [Aug 1971]

GILBERT: “Again something a little personal.  What I do now at the end of an album is a hidden track.  For example, my daughter interrupting me when I was playing a song, or a disgruntled neighbour banging on my window late at night!”

OVERTURE

Released on the album EVERY SONG HAS ITS PLAY [May 1995]

NOTE: Instrumental track.  Carrying on where he'd left off with "Can't Think Straight" on Sounds of the Loop (1993), arranger Laurie Holloway has a ball stringing several O'Sullivan themes together (GILBERT: "All the hits that never were!") while evoking the glamorous, kitschy sound world of the Golden Age of Broadway.

GILBERT: "I just said to make it like a traditional overture and emphasise the melodic aspects of the songs.  We had a huge orchestra in CBS's Whitfield Street Studios, London (sadly no longer there).  I wanted the full soundtrack effect, and we got it.  I loved it."

PARRISH

Released on the album PIANO FOREPLAY [May 2003]

PASSPORT PHOTOS

Released on the album IRLISH [June 2000]

PERMISSIVE TWIT

Released on the album HIMSELF [Aug 1971]

NOTE: Recorded solo in a spare half-hour at the end of a session (with Johnny Spence adding harpsichord later), “Permissive Twit” is a marvellous song.  A beautifully observed and humorously conveyed scenario, it conveys the wry disappointment and affectionate resignation surrounding an unwanted pregnancy with a wise, weary eye.

GILBERT: “The lyrics are very 60’s – the word ‘permissive’, as in society, means nothing to the current generation.  I often go for humour, particularly when you’re dealing with serious subjects.  I mean, I come from a catholic family, so to be singing, “Unless she raises the money/she’ll have to let it out’, if I was strongly into my Catholic upbringing, would I sing a lyric like that?  You become something that has nothing to do with you personally, but has everything to do with your mind becoming these people; that breakdown, that girl who’s pregnant – fascinating.”

PLEASE DON'T LET MY WEAKNESS SHOW [Version 1]

Released as track 2 on the CD single DOESN'T IT MAKE YOU SICK (MORTAR AND BRICK) [Jan 1997]

PLEASE DON'T LET MY WEAKNESS SHOW [Version 2]

Released on the album SINGER SOWING MACHINE [Nov 1997] [UK release]

PRETTY POLLY

Released on the album EVERY SONG HAS ITS PLAY [May 1995]

NOTE: Written in the early '60s in Gilbert's famous garden shed in Swindon, "Pretty Polly" is a plaintive folksy song sung from the point of view of a guardian figure eager that Polly should smarten up her appearance to maximise her chances of getting the attention of a boy.

GILBERT: "There is no particular dramatic context for this one.  It was just an opportunity to do an interesting old song in a soundtrack-like way."

PRIVATE EYE

Released on the album GILBERTVILLE [Jan 2011]

READY MISS STEADY

Unreleased

NOTE: The first song that Gilbert wrote. Never recorded but often played in live shows.

SAVE IT

Released as the b-side to the single ALONE AGAIN (NATURALLY) [Feb 1972]

NOTE: A song sung from the point of view of the lover who is doing the walking away, ‘Save It' is a rare O’Sullivan song that comprises minor chords entirely.

GILBERT: “I have a couple of songs like that – the other one is ‘Mary And Me’ – based on the feel and the base line of ‘She’s A Woman’ and ‘She’s About A Mover’.”

SAY GOODBYE  [Version 1]

Released on the album IRLISH [June 2000]

NOTE: Chorus part Japanese.

SAY GOODBYE  [Version 2]

Released on the album IRLISH [July 2001]

NOTE: Chorus part Spanish.

SAY GOODBYE  [Version 3] [Live]

Recorded at duo Music Exchange, Tokyo in June 2004 and released on the DVD/CD set LIVE AT DUO MUSIC EXCHANGE [Feb 2005]

SAY IRELAND / AN END

Released on the album SINGER SOWING MACHINE [Jan 1997] [Japanese release]

NOTE: Combination of two tracks SAY IRELAND and AN END which appeared separately on the UK release of the album.

SAY IRELAND

Released on the album SINGER SOWING MACHINE [Nov 1997] [UK release]

SCHOOL MEALS

Released on the album GILBERTVILLE [Jan 2011]

NOTE: School Meals was originally recorded at the A Scruff At Heart sessions but never made the album.  It was remixed with drums added for the Gilbertville album.

SEX APPEAL [Version 1]

Released on the album SINGER SOWING MACHINE [Jan 1997] [Japanese release]

SEX APPEAL [Version 2]

Released on the album SINGER SOWING MACHINE [Nov 1997] [UK release]

SEX APPEAL [Version 3]

Unreleased

NOTE: Dance Mix from a sample disc from 1998

SEX APPEAL [Version 4]

Unreleased

NOTE: Dub mix from a sample disc from 1998

SEX APPEAL [Version 5]

Released as track 2 on the CD single SAY GOODBYE [July 2001]

SHOWBIZ

Released on the album EVERY SONG HAS ITS PLAY [May 1995]

NOTE: With a classic Broadway two-feel, slick lyrics and a nod to Irving berlin's "There's No Business Like Show Business" from Annie Get Your Gun, "Showbiz" introduces our ambitious, individualistic hero bantering with characters sceptical about his ability to make it in show business, the industry which is 'only fired by hope'.

GILBERT: "I love musicals.  They are, for me, very inspiring and influential to this day.  Currently I'm re-discovering Guys And Dolls.  Frank Loesser was a great writer.

SHOWBIZ REPRISE

Released on the album EVERY SONG HAS ITS PLAY [May 1995]

NOTE: Back to where we started, in the time-honoured fashion of musicals.

GILBERT:  "As you do!  In the tradition."

SHY

Released on the album THE LITTLE ALBUM [Nov 1992] [Japanese release]

NOTE: The return of the familiar figure in the O'Sullivan canon: the awkward suitor.  Though perhaps a little more superficially wordly than the characters met in earlier songs "Who Was It" and "No More", daydreamer John's idea of effective wooing is inviting a girl to view his Cortina's licence plate.

GILBERT:  "I am basically shy, so there's a lot of me in that.  I was never upfront when it came to romance, always a bit oddball.  Of course I was happily married when I wrote it, but you draw on these things, they never leave you."

SO WHAT [Version 1]

Released as a 12" single

NOTE: Mixed by William Alexander Smith, includes female backing vocals.

SO WHAT [Version 2]

Released as a 12" single

NOTE: Dub Mix by William Alexander Smith.

SO WHAT [Version 3]

Released on the album FROBISHER DRIVE [Nov 1987]

NOTE: Hyper-contemporary, synth-driven machine funk, the Gus Dudgeon co-produced single of ‘So What’ crept into the UK singles chart at number 70.  With his pastiche of the prevailing urban braggadocio lyric style, Gilbert cracks a wry smile smile even as he flicks a finger at his critics.

GILBERT: I was getting into keyboards like the DX7 and the Linn drum.  Ken Gold and I embellished it, but I had trouble getting a mix I liked so I asked Gus Dudgeon to work on it.  His involvement and mix turned it around.  Dover Records did a bizarre re-mix of it utilising portions of a huge dance hit of the time.”

SO WHAT [Version 4]

Released as track 1 on a single [1990]

NOTE: Described as "So What (Remix)"

SO WHAT [Version 5]

Released as the b-side on a 12" single [1990]

NOTE: The artist is described as GO'SS and the track is called SO WHAT (Original Version)

SO WHAT [Version 6]

Released as the b-side on a 12" single [1990]

NOTE: The artist is described as GO'SS and the track is called SO WHAT (Ital)"

SO WHAT [Version 7]

Released as a single [1990]

NOTE: Described as "So What (Single Remix)", which is a remix of version 6.

SO WHAT [Version 8]

Released as a 12" single [Nov 1987]

NOTE: Describled as "Extended Mix".

SO WHAT [Version 9]

Released on the album IN THE KEY OF G (Deluxe version) [Apr 2013]

NOTE: A Gus Dudgeon co-produced extended near-instrumental version of the first single featuring some conspicuously jazzy keyboard.

GILBERT: “Gus asked me if I wanted an extended mix, it’s what you did in the early ‘90s.  I didn’t use it at the time.”

SOMETHING I BELIEVE

Unreleased

Note: Played on the 1978 tour.  Gilbert made a piano and voice recording available for download for a time from this website.

SOMETIMES [Version 1]

Released on the album SOUNDS OF THE LOOP [Nov 1991] [Japanese release]

NOTE: Scattered and wide ranging, ‘Sometimes’ is a confused, celebratory list of the variety of adolescent mood, taking in vulnerability, irritation, irreverence, resentment, adoration, and a lot more besides, set to a smooth summery groove.

GILBERT: “I’m not over keen on this recorded version.  These days I tend to do it on my own on stage with band member Julian Webster Greaves on flute.  When the chords are interesting and the words, as they are with ‘Sometimes’, it’s more powerful that way.  Interestingly, the lyric really connects with younger audiences.”

SOMETIMES [Version 2]

Released as track 3 on the CD single DEAR DREAM [Nov 1995]

NOTE: Described as "Alternative Version".

SOMETIMES [Version 3] [Live]

Recorded at duo Music Exchange, Tokyo in June 2004 and released on the DVD/CD set LIVE AT DUO MUSIC EXCHANGE [Feb 2005]

STICK IN THE MUD [Version 1]

Released on the album FROBISHER DRIVE [Nov 1987]

NOTE: A semi-nonsensical McCartney-esque rocker that must rank as the most raucous Gilbert has ever done, ‘Stick In The Mud’ features a gloriously loutish hook and some searing lead guitar work from Geoff Whitehorn.

GILBERT: “Geoff you just let loose and you’ll get great things.  Still one of the highlights of our live shows.”

STICK IN THE MUD [Version 2] [Live]

Recorded at duo Music Exchange, Tokyo in June 2004 and released on the DVD/CD set LIVE AT DUO MUSIC EXCHANGE [Feb 2005]

NOTE: Described on DVD cover as STUCK IN THE MUD

SUSAN VAN HEUSEN

Released on the album HIMSELF [Aug 1971]

NOTE: A sinister Newman-esque tale depicting a menacing family situation with almost fairy tale horror (“Eaten by you/All the way through/Down to the last/Very last chew”) set among wildly unpredictable metric and harmonic shifts and terrifically rousing cello part.

GILBERT: “The title is a Dutch word, ‘Nothing Rhymed’ was number one there for weeks, so I spent quite a bit of time there.  It goes all over the place.  I especially like the cello solo lines in it.  Musically it was quite interesting, but don’t ask me to play it now, I wouldn’t have a clue!”

TAKE YOUR FOOT OFF MY TOE

Released on the album A SCRUFF AT HEART [Oct 2006] [Japanese Release]

TALKING OF MURDER [Version 1]

Released on the album GILBERTVILLE [Jan 2011]

TALKING OF MURDER [Version 2]

Unreleased

NOTE: A dance remix by Paul Baguley

TAKING A CHANCE ON LOVE [Version 1]

Released as a single [May 2001]

TAKING A CHANCE ON LOVE [Version 2]

Released on the album THE VERY BEST OF GILBERT O'SULLIVAN - A SINGER AND HIS SONGS [March 2012]

NOTE: Remixed by Jon Kelly. The song title was shortened because there was another song of the same name.

TAKING SIDES

Released on the album A SCRUFF AT HEART [Oct 2006] [Japanese Release]

TELL ME WHY

Released as a single [Jan 1975]

NOTE: This old style r&b track gives Gilbert a chance to display his blues piano playing.

GILBERT: “One of my ‘60s bluesy songs influenced by Rick Davies, who taught me how to play in that style. In fact one of the first songs I ever wrote.

THATS

Released on the album THE LITTLE ALBUM [Nov 1992] [Japanese release]

NOTE: "Thats" sets the tone of By Larry perfectly; archetypical chunky Gilbert piano punctuated by amusing grandiose strings and a very eccentric song dating from the mid 1960s featuring elliptical lyrics, unexpected syllabic emphases and the flow of meaning interrupted by suprising rhymes and line endings.

GILBERT: "It's just my love of wordplay.  I still do it, of course, but perhaps not as bizarrely as I did then.  Interestingly, there's no evidence of my lyrical Dylan influences here, it's more Spike Milligan.  It's just me off in my own lyrical world.  I remember being very influenced melodically at the time by hymns, many of which I would have heard on my Sunday visits to church."

THAT'S A FACT

Released as the b-side on the single I DON'T LOVE YOU BUT I THINK I LIKE YOU [May 1975]

NOTE: One of the fastest tracks Gilbert ever produced, in which he promises to dance until he’s ‘wacked’ amid spectacularly fat horns.

GILBERT: There’s a bit of an Elton influence here.  It was arranged by H.B. Barnum, doing his brass stuff on a really good session in L.A. in 1975.”

THAT'S LOVE

Released on the album BACK TO FRONT [Oct 1972]

NOTE: A classic doo-wop turnaround chord sequence inspires Gilbert to one of his characteristically left-of-centre love songs, featuring one of his sexiest lyrics (“do with me what you will”) and a cumulative activity, complete with serene afterglow.

GILBERT: “There’s an alternative lyric to that [concerning going blind and parents who physically brutalise their children] but Gordon thought it was too heavy a lyric for such a pretty melody, so I wnt down a different route, the lighter version.”

THAT'S WHERE I BELONG

Released on the album SOUTHPAW [Nov 1977]

NOTE: A tender love song (with a slightly naughty middle) in which the singer is so sure that he belongs wherever his lover is, he’s prepared for a life sentence.  It makes an interesting contrast to the scepticism of a song like “The Marriage Machine”.

GILBERT: “Written about my future wife, and one of her favourite songs.  Great Chris Spedding guitar work, beautiful solo.”

THAT'S WHY I LOVE YOU

Released on the album THE LITTLE ALBUM [Nov 1992] [Japanese release]

NOTE: A catchy, beautifully crafted lovesong that harks back to Gilbert's love of early beat pop, especially the Beatles and the Searchers, hence the rare example of Gilbert harmonising with himself.

GILBERT: This is an early, straightforward song from the '60s.  I didn't put strings on this one but I just used an overdubbed piano with effects on it."

THE ALLERGY SONG

Released on the album GILBERTVILLE [Jan 2011]

THE BEST FUN I EVER HAD

Released on the album SOUTHPAW [Nov 1977]

NOTE: One of a couple of effective, hyperactive disco tracks from the period.  This one celebrates a former lover who’s carnal skills were such that Casanova would have died and D.H. Lawrence would have been shocked.

GILBERT: “I’m not sure I’m singing about me.  I think it’s sung in the third person!  Again, great Chris Spedding work, with the Chanter Sisters in the background.”

THE BEST LOVE I NEVER HAD

Released on the album SOUNDS OF THE LOOP [Nov 1991] [Japanese release]

NOTE: With a hint of the Police’s ‘Every Breath You Take’ in the ominous, chugging arrangement, there’s the suggestion that his spurned lover locked in the past may not be altogether psychologically straightforward.  Featuring one Gilbert’s most effective pieces of wordplay in the lines “You make your bed and then you lie in it/Wouldn’t the truth be more appropriate”.

GILBERT: “Many of us have that relationship from our past that, for whatever reason, it didn’t work out.  It’s an interesting area to go in.”

THE GOLDEN RULE

Released on the album BACK TO FRONT [Oct 1972]

NOTE: One of the most lyrically offbeat and musically inventive songs in Gilbert’s entire catalogue, ‘The Golden Rule’ displays the writer’s occasional penchant for an unfettered, free-association lyric style and parades and parades an entertaining array of Beatles-esque musical characteristics.

GILBERT: “I was pretty pleased with that.  I like the song and the wordplay going all over the place, which on an album track is fun to do.  Backing vocals, by the way from Gordon.”

THE LUCK OF THE IRISH

Released on the album SINGER SOWING MACHINE [Jan 1997] [Japanese release]

THE MARRIAGE MACHINE [Version 1]

Released on the album A STRANGER IN MY OWN BACK YARD [Oct 1974]

NOTE: The institution of marriage is a theme that Gilbert returns to sporadically (see also “To Cut A Long Story Short”), often with a beady eye on its realities and hardships.  This one reflects his love for the early ’60 pop style of the Searchers and the Beatles.

GILBERT: “I think this is one of my best songs, I still do it live as a duet. It’s stood the test of time, it’s accurate.  I suppose calling marriage a ‘machine’ isn’t the most romantic thing to say, but it’s very true to life.  You battle through, you stick with it.”

THE MARRIAGE MACHINE [Version 2]

Released on the 3 CD set CARICATURE - THE BOX [Jan 2004]

NOTE: Gus Dudgeon Remix.

THE MARRIAGE MACHINE [Version 3]

Unreleased

NOTE: Performed as a duet with Nina Ferro on the 2007 tour and subsequently with Charlotte James from 2008/10.

THE NICENESS OF IT ALL [Version 1]

Released on the album OFF CENTRE [Oct 1980]

NOTE: On the surface, a sweet love song along the lines of “Happiness Is Me And You”, but a closer listen to the final stanza reveals the narrator on various disabilities, giving the song an entirely unexpected flavour.

GILBERT: “Parts of this reflect my relationship with [girlfriend, wife to be] Aase.  I like the final section, it kind of contradicts the potential softness of what’s gone before.  This version is good, but we did a better one prior to this with H.B. Barnum in America, which I prefer.”

THE NICENESS OF IT ALL [Version 2]

Released on the album RARE TRACKS [Apr 1992] [Japanese release]

NOTE: Described on the album sleeve as "Another Version".

THE THING IS [Version 1]

Released on the album A STRANGER IN MY OWN BACK YARD [Oct 1974]

NOTE: Recalling the nonsensical boogie of McCartney’s “Smile Away”, this bluesy shuffle is modified by a 10cc-esque sequel into a harmonically rich, end-of-side one interlude.

GILBERT: “I was really pleased to write a song incorporating that phrase ‘The thing is’, which everybody says.  That extra ‘I don’t have a radio but I have a sister in Crewe’ section was a very ‘70s thing to do.  When we do it live, I don’t do that bit now.  I keep it in the blues form.”

THE THING IS [Version 2] [Live]

Recorded at duo Music Exchange, Tokyo in June 2004 and released on the DVD/CD set LIVE AT DUO MUSIC EXCHANGE [Feb 2005]

THE WAY THINGS USED TO BE [Version 1]

Released on the album FROBISHER DRIVE [Nov 1987]

NOTE: A muscular, state-of-the ‘80s-art production supports a brooding, minor-key examination of a failing relationship in which silly remarks and over-reactions can lead to a yearning for a simpler past.

GILBERT: “Quite a heavy-duty production which I really like and great work from Geoff Whitehorn who, along with Chris Spedding, is one of my favourite guitar players.  And the song has a good lyric that seems to get through to people.”

THE WAY THINGS USED TO BE [Version 2] [Live]

Recorded at duo Music Exchange, Tokyo in June 2004 and released on the DVD/CD set LIVE AT DUO MUSIC EXCHANGE [Feb 2005]

THE WINDOW CLEANER'S MATE

Released on the album THE LITTLE ALBUM [Nov 1992] [Japanese release]

NOTE: A piano sped-up to sound like a banjo, a varispeeded vocal and a few obscurely suggestive line about a windo cleaner's mate among the usual O'Sullivan wordplay and viola, a George Formby pastiche.

GILBERT: "I've always liked George Formby, they're fun songs with a music hall, melodic touch.  On trips back from schoolboy boxing events in the early 60's I used to entertain everyone, with amongst other songs, the George Formby classic 'Window Cleaner'.  I had a letter in 2012 from someone who complained there was a track on the album playing at the wrong speed!  I started doing this live recently after seeing a Frank Skinner documentary on the ukulele."

THERE ARE OTHERS

Released as track 3 on the single TWO'S COMPANY (THREE IS ALLOWED)

NOTE: One more solid, classic-sounding song with a memorable chorus.  Dating again from the 1960s, it sounds like it's been around forever.

GILBERT: "Very influenced by Dylan and "I'm A Loser"-style Beatles.  It's the folky guitar style played on piano that makes it distinctive."

THEY'RE BLIND

Unreleased

NOTE: Mentioned in the sleeve notes of Sounds of the Loop [Deluxe Edition] [2013] "There’s another song of mine called ‘They’re Blind’ written in 1968 which I never recorded.”

THEY'VE ONLY THEMSELVES TO BLAME

Released on the album I'M A WRITER NOT A FIGHTER [Sept 1973]

NOTE: A touching, true depiction of a young would-be lover whose efforts to court his belle are thwarted by over-protective parents.  The frustrating dilemma and contradiction of immature romance is captured beautifully in the lines 'Tell me I'm a child who should know better/And you won't see me holding back the tears'.

GILBERT: "That's putting myself inside the characters involved in that kind of situation.  The melody helped in that direction."

THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT [Version 1]

Released on the album OFF CENTRE [Oct 1980]

NOTE: Spooky, bluesy and dramatic sounds dress a song that meditates on our capricious relationship with religion and superstitious belief, featuring some rare O’Sullivan falsetto vocals.

GILBERT: “Interesting area for a lyricist to explore.  Musically, it was fun, we were all trying that Bee Gees vocal sound back then.”

THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT [Version 2]

Unreleased

NOTE: Gilbert included a different verse from the original in the 1978 BBC TV programme "Sight & Sound".

THUNDER AND LIGHTNING [Version 1]

Released on the album HIMSELF [Aug 1971]

NOTE: This cheerfully philosophical acceptance of the daunting power of inclement weather is one of the rockiest things in Gilbert’s 40-year catalogue and is still in his live set to this day.

GILBERT: “Rick Davies [later of Supertramp] taught me blues chords and gave me blues records to listen to.  Out of that, I wrote few songs, one of them was ‘Thunder And Lightning’.  This year [2011], we opened up the show with it.  It just rocks.”

THUNDER AND LIGHTNING [Version 2] [Live]

Released on the album THE BEST OF GILBERT O'SULLIVAN - LIVE IN JAPAN [1995]

NOTE: Recorded at Nakano-Sunplaza, Tokyo in Feb 1993.

TO CUT A LONG STORY SHORT

Released as the b-side to the single CHRISTMAS SONG [Nov 1974]

NOTE: There’s an arrogance about this cavalier narrator nicely reflected in the meaty, Stevie Wonder-style funk featuring notably muscular horns, arranged by Johnnie Spence.

TO EACH HIS OWN

Released as a single [Oct 1976]

NOTE: A variation on the Gershwins’s “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off” premise (“You say potato, I say potahto…”) featuring an effective triple-time middle section and cod and a lovely Bacharach-esque trumpet solo, all sumptuously put together in America with arrangement by Johnnie Spence.

GILBERT: “Nice bridge, I’ve always liked going off on a tangent.”

TO THE EXTREME

Released on the album IN THE KEY OF G [Nov 1989]

NOTE: A synthesiser-drenched tribute to a loving relationship based on a compelling motivic repetition in the tune, simple chord shifts and a strong melodic hook on the title.

GILBERT: “I’d been messing with this new Prophet keyboard; when you press down a note, it would play a whole sequence, a real novelty to me.  One of those patterns led to the song.  Tony Hymas, who’d played on ‘Miss My Love Today’ on Southpaw, came over to Ireland and did the rest of the keyboard work on that.  Great player.”

TOMORROW TODAY [Version 1]

Released on the album SOUTHPAW [Nov 1977]

NOTE: A subtle portrait of someone in an unexpected hurry which evolves neatly into a meditation on how we perceive the notions of yesterday, today and tomorrow, the song boasts an elegant melody and an effective use of a ‘Greek chorus’ revealing the harried character to be a ‘him’.

GILBERT: “Lyrically, it sums up the situation.  It’s all about Gordon Mills.  Every line reflects what was going on with Gordon.  There was never enough time.  Sad in a way.  Lovely arrangement by Andrew Powell, who had worked with the Alan Parsons Project and had just done Kate Bush’s first album.  We recorded in George Martin’s studio in Oxford Street and I did a live vocal with the orchestra.  It was number 1 in Japan in 1992.”

TOMORROW TODAY [Version 2] [Live]

Released on the album TOMORROW TODAY LIVE IN JAPAN '93 [Aug 1993] [Japanese release]

TOO BAD

Released as the b-side to the single A WOMAN'S PLACE [Aug 1974]

NOTE: A solid piece of ‘60s style writing with some quirky displacements in the bridge.

GILBERT: “Again, in B-side mode, though this one was recorded in the States.  As I’ve said, I always liked B-sides, I couldn’t wait years ago when buying singles to hear what was on the other side.”

TOO LONG

Released on the album RARE TRACKS [Apr 1992] [Japanese release]

TOO MUCH ATTENTION

Released on the album HIMSELF [Aug 1971]

NOTE: A bluesy, snappy dismissal of a culture that leads to negative figures occupying the fringes of society attracting notice beyond their import, sung – in a nice twist – from the point of view of one of them.

GILBERT: “Getting things off your chest. I hate the preachy thing, but it’s making a point in an almost throwaway way.  Good rock song.  That minor to major sequence wasn’t used that much in those days, now you can hear a lot of records using it.  I still play it sometimes albeit slowed down in a jazzier style.”

TWO'S COMPANY (THREE IS ALLOWED)

Released on the album IRLISH [June 200] [Japanese release]

UNDERNEATH THE BLANKET GO [Version 1]

Released on the 3 CD set CARICATURE - THE BOX [Jan 2004]

NOTE:  Described as "Original Demo".

UNDERNEATH THE BLANKET GO [Version 2]

Released as a single [Feb 1971]

NOTEMisinterpreted by music journalist Ray Coleman as a song about masturbation, this inventive but under performing rocker failed to follow ‘Nothing Rhymed’ into the UK top ten single chart, peaking at number 40, but went to number 1 in Holland.

GILBERT: “I wasn’t worried.  We needed a second single and I came up with this tune influenced by Ramsey Lewis.  The record didn’t quite turn out how I wanted, but I liked the fact that it was bit off the wall.”

VICTOR E

Released on the album A STRANGER IN MY OWN BACK YARD [Oct 1974]

NOTEA winning, ceremonial little tune supporting a veritable orgy of allegorical whimsy and word-play.

GILBERT: “It’s very me.  I always liked the word play of the title.  And the line ‘When the Indians begin to charge/What will the cavalry pay?’ always brings a smile to my face.”

WATER MUSIC [Version 1]

Released on the album IRLISH [June 2000] [Japanese Release]

WATER MUSIC [Version 2]

Released on the 3 CD set CARICATURE - THE BOX [Jan 2004]

WATER MUSIC [Version 3] [Live]

Recorded at duo Music Exchange, Tokyo in June 2004 and released on the DVD/CD set LIVE AT DUO MUSIC EXCHANGE [Feb 2005]

WE WILL [Version 1]

Released as a single [July 1971]

NOTEFrom the days when singles could precede and follow albums that didn’t contain them, an exquisite, homely piece with a McCartney-esque atmosphere and Bacharach-like richness in the chords.  It also features a tumbling, conversational lyric, a good example of O’Sullivan’s distinctive vernacular approach.

GILBERT: “The link between me and McCartney can be found in this.  It’s very much a family song, my mother being the main influence.  I especially like the line ‘Bagsy being in goal’.”

WE WILL [Version 2]

Released as the b-side to the single SO WHAT [1987]

NOTEDescribed as "We Will'87"

WE WILL [Version 3] [Live]

Released on the album TOMORROW TODAY LIVE IN JAPAN '93 [Aug 1993] [Japanese release]

WE WILL [Version 4]

Released on the album THE VERY BEST OF GILBERT O'SULLIVAN - A SINGER AND HIS SONGS [March 2012]

NOTE: Gus Dudgeon Remix

WE WILL [Version 5] [Live]

Recorded at duo Music Exchange, Tokyo in June 2004 and released on the DVD/CD set LIVE AT DUO MUSIC EXCHANGE [Feb 2005]

WHAT A WAY (TO SHOW I LOVE YOU)

Released as a single [Oct 1991]

NOTE: Distinguished by being the only co-written song Gilbert has ever recorded, ‘What A Way (To Show I Love You)’ features music by Takao Kisugi and lyrics by O’Sullivan.

GILBERT: “It was payback time.  After the duet, he asked me if I would sing one of his songs.  Bit of an awkward situation, but I agreed to put lyrics to one of his melodies.  He sent over three tunes, I picked the one I liked and recorded it here with my own musicians, sent it over, it turned out ok.  Writing lyrics to other people’s tunes, not a problem.  But with O’Sullivan collaborating with O’Sullivan, not necessary!”

WHAT AM I DOING HERE WITH YOU [Version 1]

Released on the album FROBISHER DRIVE [Nov 1987]

NOTE: The hopeful assuaging of a jealous lover’s doubt by the singer’s very presence.  Though Gilbert has been praised for the instinctive harmonic sophistication of tunes like ‘Alone Again (Naturally)’ and ‘Clair’, he enjoys the challenge of writing effective three-chord songs like this one.

GILBERT: “I get great pleasure from writing melodic, three chord songs.  So simple, but if good, so effective.  I still have a three-chord song that I don’t have a bridge for, but I play it to myself all the time because I love the verse.  Years have gone by, I’m still working on it!”

WHAT AM I DOING HERE WITH YOU [Version 2]

Released on the album BY LARRY [Apr 1994]

NOTE: Written around the time of Life And Rhymes in the 1980s and recorded with a band for In The Key ofG in 1987, the bluesy "What Am I Doing Here With You?" gets a stripped-down treatment here, complete with rock 'n' roll slapback echo on the vocal and a very strange solo.

GILBERT: "Again, I just wanted to experiment with a processed piano for the solo, so we turned it upside down, played it backwards, made it weird."

WHAT CAN I DO [Version 1]

Released on the deluxe version of the album HIMSELF [Nov 2011]

NOTE: First ever song recorded with CBS, which became Gilbert’s second and final single release for the company in April 1968.  In  a minor key with a Berlin cabaret feel, the song was beefed up with a horn-heavy arrangement from Keith Mansfield.

GILBERT: “I didn’t really like the finished product and as a result persuaded CBS and the producer Mike Smith to temporarily put it on hold and release ‘Disappear’ as a first single.

WHAT CAN I DO [Version 2]

Released as a single [Apr 1968]

WHAT CAN I DO [Version 3]

Unreleased

NOTE: Performed on the Top Gear 19/5/68 on BBC Radio.

WHAT COULD BE NICER (MUM THE KETTLE'S BOILING) [Version 1]

Released as the b-side to the single CLAIR [Oct 1972]

NOTE: Donated to the British comedy film "For The Love of Ada" staring Irene Handl and Wilfred Pickles, this is one of Gilbert’s effortlessly involving family songs (see also ‘Permissive Twit’ and ‘We Will’) which conjure entire domestic scenarios with wistful, touching detail and home-spun philosophy.

GILBERT: “Very kitchen sink, very English, full of everyday language.  Certain hard-nosed critics started having a go at me about songs like this one, but I like being able to write the way people talk, even if it is mundane.  The melody always resonates with me, a nice middle section.  In concert we often perform it in a reggae style.”

WHAT COULD BE NICER (MUM THE KETTLE'S BOILING) [Version 2] [Live]

Recorded at duo Music Exchange, Tokyo in June 2004 and released on the DVD/CD set LIVE AT DUO MUSIC EXCHANGE [Feb 2005]

WHAT HAVE WE GOT

Unreleased

NOTE: A song written especially by Gilbert for the BBC TV programme which celebrated 50 years of the BBC and was broadcast on 6 Nov 1972. The song was the finale of the show and was sung by Gilbert, joined by Lulu, The BBC Orchestra, Vera Lynn, Cliff Richard and more.

WHAT YOU DO DOES IT FOR ME

Unreleased

NOTE: Recorded during sessions for the Gilbertville album but never made it to the album.

WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET

Released as the b-side to the single AT THE VERY MENTION OF YOUR NAME [June 1990]

NOTE: Another tune that, like "What Am I Doing Here With You?", was recorded around the same time as By Larry, but was considered an 'extra', falling slightly outside of the central idea.  Hence, an electric guitar was permitted on the track.

GILBERT: "Wild guitar solo.  Comes out of nowhere and goes.  Double-tracked vocal on the chorus, typical commerical O'Sullivan sound.  Good song, though I've never gone back to it."

WHATS IN A KISS [Version 1]

Released as a single [Aug 1980]

NOTE: Guitar accompaniment.  A classic old-school Gilbert song which conveys winsome charm, innocent optimism and off-beat romanticism in equal measure.

GILBERT: “I was happy with a backing track I’d recorded, but Gus wanted to start again. I thought the re-recording was terrible so it wad dumped.  We added Bruce Baxter’s strings and Tim Renwick’s guitars to my track and that’s what came out.”

WHATS IN A KISS [Version 2]

Released on the album HIS 20 MOST BEAUTIFUL SONGS [1989]

NOTE: Piano accompaniment.  Produced by Gus Dudgeon.

WHATS IN A KISS [Version 3]

Released on the album THE VERY BEST OF GILBERT O'SULLIVAN - A SINGER AND HIS SONGS [March 2012]

NOTE: Different guita accompaniment.

WHATS IN A KISS [Version 4] [Live]

Released on the album TOMORROW TODAY LIVE IN JAPAN '93 [Aug 1993] [Japanese release]

WHATS IN A KISS [Version 5] [Live]

Recorded at duo Music Exchange, Tokyo in June 2004 and released on the DVD/CD set LIVE AT DUO MUSIC EXCHANGE [Feb 2005]

WHAT'S IT ALL SUPPOSED TO MEAN

Released on the album PIANO FOREPLAY [May 2003]

WHEN TO TODAY

Released on the album THE LITTLE ALBUM [Nov 1992] [Japanese release]

NOTE: A Beatles-esque country rocker, again dating from the mid-1960s, with a weaving, tumbling construction and an out-of-nowhere choral interlude.  "When To Today" features more meaningful Gilbertian nonsense and is a good example of how the carefully constructed rhyme scheme provides the energy to move the song along.

GILBERT: "I don't know what it's about; it's pretty bizarre, the O'Sullivan brain going haywire!  But I like the way the meaning of the line is completed by the next line.  With just voice and piano, those fun things can come through."

WHERE PEACEFUL WATERS FLOW [Version 1]

Released on the album I'M A WRITER NOT A FIGHTER [Sept 1973]

NOTE: A reassuring, gospel-influenced piece with a spiritual atmosphere which vacillates between 4/4 and 3/4 time and which culminates in a rousing choral coda with Gilbert’s vocals venturing into quasi-soul territory.

GILBERT: “A lot of my best songs weren’t hit singles, but they have a depth to them.  This song has a universal sentiment and people respond to that.  Live, we get the audience to sing alone with the ending, it has a nice anthemic feel.  It’s my mother’s favourite song of mine.”

WHERE PEACEFUL WATERS FLOW [Version 2] [Live]

Released on the album TOMORROW TODAY LIVE IN JAPAN '93 [Aug 1993] [Japanese release]

WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN

Released on the album IRLISH [June 2000]

WHERE WOULD WE BE (WITHOUT TEA)

Released on the album GILBERTVILLE [Jan 2011]

WHO KNOWS, PERHAPS MAYBE

Released on the album I'M A WRITER NOT A FIGHTER [Sept 1973]

NOTE: Four-on-the-floor bass drum with bluesy electric piano, ‘Who Knows, Perhaps, Maybe’ pimps along like a prototype of ‘Jeans On’, a massive hit for David Dundas three years later in 1976.

GILBERT: “Good rock song, I like it.  Because of the release deadline, some overdubbing – due in part to Gordon’s schedule – was done in the States.  L.A. based percussionist Bobbye Hall could do things with a tambourine that defy logic.”

WHO WAS IT [Version 1]

Released on the album BACK TO FRONT [Oct 1972]

NOTE: The romantic hero of the song may be engaged in borderline harassment (tripping a girl up in order to meet her, attempting to kiss her ‘despite a very definite no’), but ‘Who Was It’ is a superbly compact, amusing and catchy piece of pop song-craft, commercial enough to be a UK hit single for Norman ‘Hurricane’ Smith in 1972.

GILBERT: “It was an album track first, but I wasn’t mad about my version.  I like the humour of the song and it’s fun to do on stage but back then it was recorded in one of those two tracks in three hours sessions and it wasn’t considered a single, not an awful lot of thought went into it.  Norman’s version was interesting.  I did a couple of appearances with him in Europe, he was a nice person.”

WHO WAS IT [Version 2] [Live]

Recorded at duo Music Exchange, Tokyo in June 2004 and released on the DVD/CD set LIVE AT DUO MUSIC EXCHANGE [Feb 2005]

WHY, OH WHY, OH WHY [Version 1]

Released as a single [Nov 1973]

NOTE: After the relative disappointment of ‘Ooh Baby’s placing, Gilbert’s third single of 1973 re-established him in the UK top ten.  The track was a return to his plaintive, reflective style and catalogued, with unflinching commitment to detail, the trauma of being trapped in an unloving relationship.  Morris Albert borrowed the bridge for his own hit “Feelings” three years later.

GILBERT: “Again, I wasn’t unhappy at the time, but as a songwriter, I go there, I like those dark areas.  Yes, a sad song, but it’s also many people’s favourite and a concert highlight, albeit now performed in an upbeat reggae style.”

WHY, OH WHY, OH WHY [Version 2]

Unreleased

NOTE: Started performing this in a reggae style on 2004 tour.

WHY PRETEND

Released on the album OFF CENTRE [Oct 1980]

NOTE: Once more Gilbert makes his admiration for fats Domino apparent in a track featuring some rollicking New Orleans piano fills courtesy of Pete Wingfield.

GILBERT: “Just a bit of classic Fats.  Howie Casey, saxophonist from the Cavern days, does some good playing on that.”

WILL I DO

Released on the album PIANO FOREPLAY [May 2003]

WONDER WHY [Version 1]

Released on the album LIFE & RHYMES [Oct 1982]

NOTE: With its theme of questioning but enduring faith in the face of broken hearts and starving children (touching on “Nothing Rhymed” territory), “Wonder Why” is the most spiritually influenced O’Sullivan song since 1973’s “Where Peaceful Waters Flow”.

GILBERT: “I recorded this on my own in Windmill Lane Studios, Dublin.  The engineer loved it, thought it too good for a B-side.  Graham added a bass, acoustic guitar and backing vocals.  Though he by no means overburdened it, but if I was putting this out tomorrow I’d use my original live vocal/keyboard version.”

WONDER WHY [Version 2]

Released on the 3 CD set CARICATURE - THE BOX [Jan 2004]

NOTE: Described on sleeve notes as "Stripped Version".

WORLD OF WORK

Released on the album PIANO FOREPLAY [May 2003]

YOU [Version 1]

Released as the b-side to the single DISAPPEAR [Nov 1967]

YOU [Version 2]

Unreleased

NOTE: Performed on John Peels programme Top Gear on 19/5/68 on BBC Radio.

YOU ARE YOU [Version 1]

Released as a single [Jan 1975]

NOTE: A charming updating of Cole Porter’s ‘You’re The Top’ complete with period references (Kissinger, Ali, supersonic flights) and a cheeky bridge revealing explicitly lascivious intention.  It was a good single choice which would have undoubtedly been a hit two years earlier.

GILBERT: “Yes, in the Cole Porter style.  We did it live a couple of years ago in a kind of swing style.  I thought of updating the lyric, but my backing singers persuaded me to leave it.”

YOU ARE YOU [Version 2]

Unreleased

NOTE: Gilbert performed a new swing version of the song during the 2010 Irish tour.

YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT [Version 1]

Released on the album SINGER SOWING MACHINE [Jan 1997] [Japanese release]

YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT [Version 2]

Released on the album SINGER SOWING MACHINE [Nov 1997] [UK release]

YOU BETTER RUN

Released as the b-side to the single LOST A FRIEND [1989]

YOU CAN'T CON-CRETE

Released on the album A SCRUFF AT HEART [Oct 2006] [Japanese Release]

YOU DON'T HAVE TO TELL ME

Released as the b-side to the single WHY, OH WHY, OH WHY [Nov 1973]

NOTE: This country-style number seems to continue the examination of the same loveless relationship and, curiously, features a spoken apology in the middle of the vocal.

GILBERT: “I’ve always loved B-sides, the surprise was in buying a single and then hearing a side that no-one ever played on the radio.  Early Cliff and the Shadows and most Beatles singles contained some of the best.  I never looked upon them as throw-away.  Again, this was just myself and Gordon.  I liked putting in the purposeful mistake in the middle section when I apologise for saying, I’m instead of I on the line ‘is you implying that this time I’m “sorry” I have gone too far’.  To the best of my knowledge I don’t think any lyricist has ever put in a mistake and said sorry for it before.”

YOU DON'T OWN ME

Released on the album LIFE & RHYMES [Oct 1982]

NOTE: A gentle but firm declaration of independence from a narrator who, while grateful for “the breaks”, “assistance” and even “love” of a significant other, asserts his determination not to be a slave.

GILBERT: “In retrospect, of course it’s about my relationship with Gordon and the influence he had over me.”

YOU DON'T OWN ME / IF I KNOW YOU

Released on the album EVERY SONG HAS ITS PLAY [May 1995]

NOTE: A pairing of two songs directly inspired by the bitter end of Gilbert's relationship with Gordon Mills, both "You Don't Own Me" and "If I Know You" were written when the feelings expressed were still raw.  The songs first appeared separately on Life And Rhymes (1982) and were conjoined specifically for the stage presentation of Every Song Has Its Play.

GILBERT: "In the play, after the manager and I had this confrontation which was very intense, I would sing these two songs.  The audience just sat there in silence.  It worked really well."

YOU GOT ME GOING

Released as a single [July 1977]

NOTE: One of Gilbert’s toughest good-time boogies tracks is a showcase for the fuzzed-up guitar of his star session man.

GILBERT: “Great track, we open the second act of the live show with this.  Has a bit of “Spirit In The Sky” about it.  It started with and overdubbed, two-piano riff, then when Chris Spedding hit that riff, he just took off!  Wonderful guitar player.  I wrote the brass parts, by singing the idea to someone who scored them.  That was fun.”

YOU ME AND THE GARDEN POST

Released on the album PIANO FOREPLAY [May 2003]

YOU NEVER LISTEN TO REASON

Released as a single [Oct 1975]

NOTE: A bouncy track from the H.B. Barnum sessions from 1975.

GILBERT: “It was a single and I enjoyed recording it, but it wasn’t playlisted.”

YOUNG AT HEART (WE'LL ALWAYS REMAIN)

Released on the album EVERY SONG HAS ITS PLAY [May 1995]

NOTE: One of Gilbert's proudly old-fashioned melodies, with all the requisite melodic and harmonic facility of a Tin Pan Alley craftsman from a couple of generations earlier.

GILBERT: "I tried recording "Young At Heart" a couple of years earlier, but it didn't work out.  This time, I got Laurie to listen to Peggy Lee's "The Folks Who Live On The Hill" as a guide.  I've always loved the opening of it with the trumpet and I wanted an element of that for my intro tune, though we used an oboe.  Lovely work from Laurie, and beautifully mixed by Mike Ross who was ironically enough the engineer on my first record back in the Mike Smith/CBS days."

 


Song descriptions by Chris Ingram