George Starostin's Reviews

 THE BEE GEES

READER COMMENTS SECTION

Become a Certified Commentator today by following this link!

!!Before adding new comments, please check the GUIDELINES. Don't say I didn't warn you!!


Introduction

Diane Waite <hadwaite@connect.comdek.net.au> (02.10.2000)

I think people perceive the bee gees all wrong. They never wrote any disco songs neither did they make disco albums. The public claimed their music as disco. They said that "how deep is your love" was a disco song. I really don't think so. Secondly , the bee gees never intended to use falsetto as a key instrument in singing but due to their failing popularity using their "true" voices they needed something different. It was their producer who got them into key with the falsetto. I totally disagree with anyone who believes that the bee gees are not talented or fake or copycats of the sort. They are one of the only bands to still be present after 41 years in the music business. They compose their own music and write music for other groups. Here's a fact that some of you simpletons didn't know. Barbara striesands album "guilty" written by Barry gibb was her biggest selling album of all time. The fans favorite albums of the bee gees are "main course" , "living eyes" and size isn't everything. this is generally speaking. The bee gees are the fifth most SUCCESSFUL BAND IN THE WHOLE HISTORY OF MODERN MUSIC. Only to be beaten by Elvis , Beatles , Paul McCartney and (the ever so crappy plastic Barbie doll) Michael Jackson. I can not believe the disrespect you give a band when they have changed the way music is for the better. Disco never sucked. it only died due to the fact that people of the 70's were stupid morons and sex crazed loonies who would rather listen to electronic shit of the eighties or corny country music of the 60's. to be brutally honest the only people fit to review the bee gees are people who appreciate there success and it seems the reviews here don't and therefore there review is biased as is mine but facts beat individual perceptions. If you listen to their best selling albums you might appreciate them better rather than ruining what is a truly magnificent or even better the best band ever made. to me the Beatles suck compared to them. another fact just before I go the bee gees in the sixties were accused of stealing the Beatles sound when it actually was the other way round. the bee gees started out before the Beatles.

[Special author note: I considered adding a baby picture here, but with a bit of spare time on my hands I figured it would be interesting to write a full-fledged answer instead. First of all, Diane is contradicting herself: first she says that the Bee Gees 'never wrote any disco songs' (which is a lie - disco is an objective musical style, not a 'way of life', and songs like 'Stayin' Alive' are definitely written by the Bee Gees and definitely written disco style), and then she begins defending disco. If the brothers never wrote disco songs, why defend disco in the first place? Second, I don't care who "got them into key with the falsetto" - by the mid-Seventies, they weren't underage and could have taken all the major decisions themselves. Third, I never said that the Bee Gees weren't talented - they were and still are quite talented. Fourth, I don't actually see what makes "electronic shit of the eighties" or "corny country music of the 60's" (why 60's? why corny country?) any worse in general than Seventies' disco. All of these genres follow a formula, and the formula can be varied in different ways, for better or for worse. Fifth, that phrase about "only people fit to review the bee gees" comes down to the question "if you're not a fan why review this?". The answer can be found on the introduction page, but using the same logic, I can say that the only people NOT fit to review the Bee Gees are hardcore Bee Gees fans unable to take a hint. By the way, I do appreciate their success (artistic, that is - I could care less about how many records they have sold). And finally, I'm quite amused at the perspective of the Beatles ripping off the Bee Gees... 'Hey John, you don't happen to know where I can find some Australian imports? I'd like to hear more about those classy wunderkinds tearin' up the country!' 'Sure Paul, I've been sitting at the radio all night trying to find that darned Melbourne station!']

[This - quite innocent, I'd say - reply was followed with one more philippic from Diane, which for economy's sake and other obvious reasons I leave unanswered:]

I do not know where the people here get their facts from but obviously you perceive the bee gees as a disco band. Its still a "FACT" that the bee gees did not create disco music(even though I like disco music). People PERCEIVE songs like stayin alive as disco. But never the less 'Stayin alive' is still well liked across the world. If you want to bag a group or artist why not tend to those as less successful or artist like(Michael Jackson). If your going ridicule me for what I said then you should ridicule what you said because it seems that its a one way review.(the reviewer can bag any band he so wishes but when a fan defends them bag them down too) You say that we should "blame the bee gees for disco" let's start with a fact. Disco started around 1974. Bee gees were not in the top 50 at that time. Their following singles were not disco. the singles being "jive talkin" , "nights of broadway" and lastly "fanny (be tender with my love)". these songs came from probably their most eclectic album of all time. they had country , pop , funk , r&b. Ultimately the only people you can blame for disco is the people of 1970's. If bands made disco and the civilians never bought the singles or albums then disco would not exist. Groups make music to make people happier but the bee gees were put on the band wagon as well for reason as you say as "they made disco songs." still they didn't.(make disco that is) If the Beatles were still around no doubt they would have made disco songs and then you would probably say disco is ok. Plus your last little point was rather childish and very disrespective of my country. You have no right to insult Australia in anyway just for your pleasure. I stated a fact from one of there interviews that stated that they never copied the Beatles or any other artist. Plus the bee gees have had the honor of Elvis singing some of there music were I cant remember whether or not he did any Beatles songs. I think you take your opinions too seriously and I guarantee you will say that back too me which is probably true but I don't understand why you bring down such a talented group. So you don't like falsetto big deal. Other people do! So you like the Beatles and (god for bid) the rolling stones. other people don't. Do you realize what Mick jagger did when he was in the rolling stones? tell the fans that. (he took all the money so the rest of the group got nothing and that's a fact taken from an interview last year from one of the band members and their music doesn't linger on like abba or the bee gees because today's children would not know a single rolling stones song even if it hit them in the head.)

Lee Meadows <lee.meadows1@ntlworld.com> (11.11.2000)

Hi there!

well, I have just read your notes on the bee gees career. First off I have to say that I am A big beegees fan but am prepared to read all comments as I do not think that they the sun shines out of their asses all the time!!

Well just a brief comment.......

I think that most of the things that you said are pretty much well thought out and near to the truth!! So you see we are not all unreasonable people. (although I know that many are blinded by their love!!) Maybe it has something to do with only being 25 and being able to listen to it all after the event !! I am not kidding you about the fan thing as an example I sold my car at the end of last year to come to Miami (From England) for new years eve to come and see them! So that is a display of my devotion! I also have about $18,000 worth of beegees records and stuff!

Anyhow the only area that I felt your idea were different was the disco area. (A favourite of mine) I would say that if that was the music of the time that was working why was it wrong to copy it and do it better??? If they had continued in the style of Life in tin can (Only 3 yrs before) they would have been finished!

It was the world that liked the songs of the 70's and are still in love with them to this day! They will last forever. I am sure that if you asked 100 15 year old kids in England if they knew Stayin alive or Tragedy they would say "yes" but if you asked them about "Yesterday or Hey Jude" they would possibly say they have never heard of them! Even though some may argue that they are better! (I feel the beatles are seriousely OVER rated i must add)

Also I think that the 1981-1986 songwriting period is worth a mention where they penned guilty for streisand, Islands in the stream for Parton/Rogers Heartbreaker for Warwick and Chain Reaction (No.1 UK) for D,Ross. However I must confess that there has been a lot of rubbiish released after 1980 with a few good songs mixed in. I still find that about 80% of my listening time goes into stuff before 1981.

Overall well done on a fairly acccurate reviem. Lee meadows

Alex Badini <abadinig@Uni-Hohenheim.DE> (21.04.2001)

Hy!

I think you did a great job reviewing all those albums even if you seem to almost hate the Bee Gees. I agree that First is probably one of their best album. I personally like Main Course even more. You should give it a try. It's a great mixture of "disco suitable" R&B (yeah, ok, i know you hate falsetto but try it!), Ballads and Country songs.

You have reviewed their worst albums: Tin Can and To Whom It may Concern. Some of their finest work is missing in your reviews (early days in australia, Main Course, Size isn't everything from 1993). Adding some reviews would make your comments a bit more objective.

In you overall rating you haven´t honoured the fact that the beegees have been on the top of pop music for almost 35 years (with some breaks). Very few band have achieved this. By the way I am not aware of all that crap you said they had done in the 80s and 90s. Please give examples. Crap was really the period 72/73 and in parts 69.

Maybe if you get a broader view of the BG work and have a listen to more of their material you will raise your vote from 2 to 3. I can´t stand the fact that you gave ABBA a higher mark!!!!!! ABBA is ok ...but compared to the BeeGees? Bee Gees is much more than disco and ABBA almost just disco. You said (i think) that you don´t like disco but that the Bee Gees did the best out of it. So why is ABBA better than the Bee Gees?

And all those bands: the monkeys, the animals, the hollies. They have all been overshadowed by the beatles and they were just pale epigons (nice music though) of the beatles and stones. Maybe this is true for the Bee Gees, too. But they have survived the beatles and persisted til today in the musical landscape. Like Mc Cartney, like Phil Collins. So why are they so much worse than the hollies, etc.?????? Just because they are such clever bastards to adapt to new musical styles? Each time when everybody thought it was time to rip them apart they came back. And, this is the important point, they maybe stole a lot from other artists but they never sounded like anybody else. You could always distinguish them from the rest. In all periods of their career they were able to create a sound that was the "beegees sound" even though they never invented new musical directions. They are just clever players in this business with immense (not just a bit as you said) talent.

Glenn Wiener <glennjwiener@hotmail.com> (05.07.2001)

Many people may dislike the Bee Gees for polluting the music world with Disco. Truthfully, these guys added an alternate path for the sleek dancing crowd. Outside of Saturday Night Fever, the Brothers Gibb added some pretty if depressing ballads such as 'Massachusetts', 'New York Mining Disaster 1941', 'Iíve Got To Get A Message', and 'How Can You Mend A Broken Heart'? Some cool pre-Saturday Night Fever dance grooves suchas 'Nights On Broadway', 'Jive Talkiní, and 'You Should Be Dancing'. Heck Children of The World is a solid recording. And The Bee Gees have made a fine contribution to the annals of music.

Peter Castanos <pc@hartmann.webcentral.com.au> (03.12.2001)

As a rule I am very impressed with your insight into the music of the sixties despite your apparent youthfulness. I cannot however allow you to deceive yourself with the belief that the Bee Gees shared with the Monkees any element of prefabrication ("manufactured"). Having been fortunate enough to grow in the sixties in Sydney watching and listening to the Bee Gees regularly on local radio and TV (along with the Easybeats etc) I can assure you that these boys lived and breathed music and as you know wrote it as well. Sure they worshipped the Beatles but didn't everybody? I was fond of the Monkees as well but never lost sight of the fact that they were just the equivalent of today's "boy" groups, with solid songwriting behind them (boyce/hart etc) and corporate financial and promotional support.

Steve Potocin <epoggi@cox.net> (02.01.2003)

I like THe Bee Gees. In small doses. Their 1st decent song 'Spicks and Specks' was late 66 and had a nice melody. Their best material [In my opinion ] was from 67-71, from 'To love Somebody to Lonley Days, good stuff, well played & sung. A quick word on Disco. While most of disco was dog shit, there were some Great disco songs. 'Rock your Baby' by George McCrea is a killer tune with a rollicking soul groove. Other A team disco nuggets include 'Turn Back The Night' - The Tramps, Shame,Shame,Shame-Shirley& Companyand 'I Feel Love' Donnna Summer. Hmmm, Well that's 4 out of 20,000, hey! disco does blow! Still better than The Grateful Dead. The Bee Gees get extra points for chrome dome Maurice being married to Brit pop star Lulu, who sang 'To Sir with Love'. Subtract for subsequent divorce.

Louise Gagliardi <gag05@bigpond.com.au> (16.01.2003)

How can the Bee Gees get a score of 2 when u gave them 2.5 which obviously should be rounded up to a score of 3 not down to 2 Dumbass, unless u Russians do it the opposite way or maybe u think they don't deserve the magic 3 with other fellow legends ABBA, c'mon Bee Gees are easily as good as ABBA and u haven't reviewed Main Course yet so what the hell would u know.

Gerard Nowak <gero@gower.pl> (03.05.2003)

I always make a difference between The Bee Gees and Bee Gees. The latter is for me their disco incarnation. Just as Barry Gibb put it in their VH1 set just before "Staying Alive": 'now I'm gonna use my second voice', I find the Staying Alive band just secondary. The debut was very fresh, very amusing and very promising. The highlights are "Christian" (it's amazing how this simple mellotron phrase, some three notes to be played by any 5-year-old child, actually works!) and "Cucumber Castle" (the orchestration is very original, as if telling a story of its own). "In My Own Time" is a fine example of an adequate arrangement, they made absolutely the most of this rather banal melody, there's nothing I can think of to make this song any better. And it works, though "Dr Robert" seems rather superior to me: more diversity and more ideas. And the previous comment is the solution of the puzzle why the "Disaster" was always regarded as Beatlesque. How could I not notice that?

Pedro Andino <pedroandino@msn.com> (21.07.2003)

barry,maurice,and robin, i love them since 1976 from sgt.pepper-like pop rock to dazzling disco! the bee gees sold more records than elvis and the beatles combined. bee gees are number one!

Steven De Leeuw <sfpdeleeuw@netscape.net> (02.02.2004)

First, I would like to congratulate you on your vast knowledge of sixties and seventies music. Secondly, I would like to point out that, being Flemish, my mother tongue is Dutch, so I hope you'll forgive the spelling errors that will undoubtedly slip into my text. That being said I would like to react to your review of the music of my favorite band, the Bee Gees. I must admit it always makes me a little sad to read negative comments about the Gibb Brothers and their music. It seems that, as far as they are concerned, there are only two kinds of people : those who absolutely love them and those who hate them unconditionally. ( I rarely come across anyone who ' likes some of their stuff, but not everything ' ). I rather suspect you belong to the latter group. ( Starting your text with " Reviewing the Bee Gees, SHOULD I BE ASHAMED ..." gives it away a bit, I'm afraid. ) Now I'll be the first to admit that they DID put out quite a bit of music that was average at best or even plain bad. I think though this is unavoidable for a band that has written over 2.000 songs in a career that spanned over 35 years. Still I maintain that at least two thirds of the stuff they have written and / or recorded through the years is great pop music ( no more, no less ). ( Incidentally, do you know of any OTHER band or artist that can claim to have written that many great pop songs ? ). Furthermore, I believe that they have written several dozen truly classic songs ( which have been covered by literally hundreds of artists, including Al Green, Elvis Presley, Nina Simone, The Wallflowers, The Black Crowes, Oasis, Destiny's Child, Status Quo,...) which include :

* To love somebody; * I started a joke; * Too much heaven; * How deep is your love; * Jive talking; * Massachusetts, * New York mining disaster; * How can you mend a broken heart; * I've got to get a message to you; * Holiday; * Words; * World; * Lonely days; * You should be dancing; * Spicks and specks; * Nights on Broadway; * One; * You win again; * Tragedy; * Guilty (for Barbara Streisand); * Woman in love (for Barbara Streisand); * Heartbreaker (for Dionne Warwick); * Islands in the stream (for Kenny Rodgers) * Chain reaction (for Diana Ross); * Run to me; * Come on over (for Olivia Newton-John); * Grease (for Franki Valli & The Four Seasons); * Shadow dancing (for their brother, Andy Gibb); *Emotion (for Samantha Sang); * Immortality (for Celine Dion);

just to name but a few out of their very impressive catalogue of songs ! Fans of their work include Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys ( who rates them even higher than the Beatles ! ), Bono of U2 and Billy Joel. Moreover, they were inducted both in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame AND the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Therefore I believe the time has come to reassess the place of the Bee Gees in pop history and give them the credit and merit they have been deserving for so many years, as one of the greatest bands EVER in popular music.

Reading your reviews of SOME of their records, it seems to me that you do recognize the Gibb's talents as songwriters, while being put off by their particular vocal styles ( Barry's breathy regular voice and his falsetto, Robin's vibrato ). I can understand that. Some people like those singing voices, others don't. ( Just as some people like Tom Waits' raw voice, and others don't. ) Personally, I prefer the songs where the Bee Gees' 3 distinctive vocal styles ( falsetto, vibrato and Maurice's " regular voice " ) intertwine in truly perfect harmony. ( NOBODY can do three part harmony the way the Bee Gees used to do ). So I can understand why you really didn't like their Spirits having flown album, as all the songs on it are sung in Barry's high voice. ( Even I find this hard to listen to during an entire album, although I disagree with you as far as the song material on the album goes. In my opinion, the Spirits album contains some of the greatest melodies the brothers ever wrote and is filled to the brim with their trademark ' hooks '. ) As for the albums you DID review, I can certainly subscribe to some of the comments you made. It is true that their song lyrics are either a bit " sappy " ( this goes for most of their love songs and ballads ) or incomprehensible ( their " psychedelic " songs that can be found on the First album and on some of their other albums ). So the Bee Gees aren't the greatest text writers ever born. I don't particularly mind. ( As I already said, what I like most about them are the fantastic melodies and hooks they keep ( kept ) coming up with !) I also agree with you that they never produced a really " classic " album, because most of their albums do include one or two "fillers". I think this has to do with the fact that the Bee Gees,as prolific song writers, couldn't bear to put one of their lesser creations "on the shelf". They have stated many times in interviews that they consider all their songs to be children, to be sent out into the wide world, hoping that they will do well. The brothers have always considered the albums they put out as being a collection of potential hit singles, rather than as a coherent group of songs that should be listened to together. So you are probably right in suggesting they should have been a little more selective in the material they put out on record. You are equally right in saying that they often " borrowed " ideas from other bands. So what ? Doesn't every band or artist in popular music ( with the possible exception of the Beatles ) do this ? How many truly original ideas can really be found in popular rock or pop music ? Nobody can deny though that the Bee Gees have always managed to give these borrowed ideas a twist of their own, in a way that they became unmistakably " Bee Gees " music.On the other hand, you accuse the Bee Gees of having invented disco, but apparently that doesn't count as far as " creativeness " is concerned. I believe it is utterly ridiculous to label the Bee Gees a disco band. After all, they only wrote 20 to 30 disco songs at most ( compared to their entire song catalogue, consisting of over 2.000 songs ! ). Hell, they even wrote more COUNTRY songs than that ! What's more, it can hardly be denied that the disco songs the brothers did write are amongst the very best ever written ( think of Night Fever, Staying Alive, More than a woman, Nights on Broadway ). ( By the way, what was so bad about disco ? Disco was just the dance music of the seventies, just as house or techno has been for later generations. Were these later forms of dance music better than disco ? Is dance music bad by definition ? In my opinion, bad music is bad music and good music is good music, whatever the genre. Is Bruce Springsteen responsible for all bad rock songs ever produced ? Is Johnny Cash responsible for all bad country music ? ) You also claim that the Bee Gees often changed their musical style in order to adapt themselves to changing musical tastes. What of it ? As far as I'm concerned, this only proves their versatility and creative talent. ( Really, do you believe The Hollies or The Monkees would have been able to do this ? )

To conclude, I can say that, although I can subscribe to some of your critics with regard to the Bee Gees music, I can certainly not agree with your overall rating of the group. ( Two stars out of a possible total of five ). I think they earn a rating of 3,5 stars at least. What's more, you really CANNOT BE SERIOUS in rating bands like The Monkees ( the WHO ? - no pun intended ) or ABBA higher than the Bee Gees.


ALBUMS
1ST

Josh Fitzgerald <breezesf85@email.com> (23.05.2000)

1967 was a YEAR!! Sgt. Pepper, Disreali Gears, Surrealistic Pillow, Days of Future Passed, the Doors debut, Are you Expirienced, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, and most ironically, Bee Gees 1st!!!

I really love this album. Not as much as I used to , but I still find myself in ecstasy when I hear Robin's vocals on "Holiday"(doesn't his voice rule! It sounds even cooler now!). My favorate song is also "Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You." That song is mesmerizing. Freaky, yes, but mesmerizing. (BTW, not that it makes a huge difference, but they "Oh Solo Dominique," not "Santa Dominique." Big Deal)

The rest is good too, but how can you say that "One Minute Woman" is better than "To Love Somebody?" That's song's pretty corny. "Turn of the Century" doesn't do much for me, either. However, you didn't mention another great song, "I Can't See Nobody." Robin's vocals are impeccable in that song, and it's a really beautiful melody, too.

An awesome album, but to me, not as good as Trafalgar or Odessa. On you 1-15 scale, I give it a 13.

Bob Josef <Trfesok@aol.com> (30.07.2000)

Even more naive than From Genesis to Revelation. And even more primitive musicianship! Unfortunately, this always as uniformly charming. "Craise Finston Kirk" and "Cucumber Castle" have than annoyingly cute British humor which is really grating today. These songs have NOT dated well at all!

But the major hits: "Mining Disaster," "To Love Somebody," "I Can't See Nobody," "Holiday" -- all classic pop songs. And I'll put in a third vote for "Every Christian Lion-Hearted Man" as top track -- yes, the mellotron gets me again as well as that bizarre chant.

More proof that 60's LSD pop was far superior than 70's cocaine pop...

Gianni Martinelli <gmartyn9@hotmail.com> (31.01.2003)

The chorus of "New York mining disaster 1941" sounds to me exactly like "I don't want to spoil the party". Don't ya think?


HORIZONTAL

Ryan Picinich <rpicinich@hotmail.com> (26.04.2003)

If you like that cover, you should see the original UK cover for both this and the Idea LP - WAY cooler. Thanks for being brave enough to review these guys - all of their early albums rule, in my opinion.


IDEA

No reader comments yet.


ODESSA

Pedro Andino <pedroandino@msn.com> (21.07.2003)

a rock opera for the bee gees. the guys created a rock opera with strings,harmonies,and the concept about a man lost at sea. no hits but plenty of music for a 63 minute journey

David Dickson <ddickso2@uccs.edu> (25.07.2006)

Eyyyyyyyy! Check it out! Now I'm ddickSO. Instead of SON. Meant to emphasize my growing nonchalance, not too mention becoming more than just the son of Dick. Amen.

Ick. But wait, the album. Ahhhhh, the immortal Odessa (or "Ahdyessa" as it were). I'm going to say something controversial. Are you ready for something controversial? Are you REALLY??? You may want to (as they say) stand down.

I think this might be the best double album ever. If there's a band out there capable of growing themselves some pompous ambition without sounding either inadequate, or making a joke about it (yeah, I'm lookin' at you, Beatles. I mean, yeah, you WERE the ultimate musical chameleons, but let's face it, you rarely took your adopted genres seriously. Like George said, the whole White Album, great as it was, was basically a parody.) THIS band, however, seems to be dead serious about journeying back to the 19th century, and somehow, someway, actually goddamn CAPTURING the vibe in all its glory and darkness. The only other "rock" band that I've heard that could conceivably do the same is Sigur Ros--but they were never much about the melodies--this one clearly is.

There IS one problem, however--if you can't stand classical music, or regard rock and roll as the ultimate musical END in itself and not the MEANS (and that rules out the vast majority of musical critics out there, either professional or amateur) you will not not not NOT like this album. It's 60 minutes long, it's slow, it's un-diverse, it's un-lyrically-relevant-to-our-generation, the majority of the instruments are STRINGS, and one of the brothers sings like a goat (the album's only major flaw). Rather than use rock and roll as the core and classical music as the shell, the brothers Gibb do exactly the opposite. Not even the Moody Blues went that far.

One of the best albums ever. At the very least, it has to be the best double-LP of the '60's. Sorry, Blonde on Blonde. You fought the good fight. (*thunderous, dignified applause*)

Somebody else, please, comment on this. Pedro 'n I, we're getting bored hangin' up here by ourselves in the land of red velvet.


CUCUMBER CASTLE

Bob Josef <Trfesok@aol.com> (20.10.2000)

Well, Barry and Robin weren't in a Robin Hood movie. But, like the Beatles, they decided to try their hand at their own psychedelic British TV special -- called Cucumber Castle And, like the Beatles, their special was a universally panned disaster. I have seen a tiny clip of it, and (again, like Magical Mystery Tour) it looks like it deserves what it got. It was the last straw for Colin Peterson, who left by the time it was released.

And, again, like Magical Mystery Tour, the soundtrack is far better than the movie -- although the gap in quality between the two isn't as wide. "I.O.I.O" is the only real departure the group makes from its established style. Nothing really distinctive or fun here otherwise. Mediocre.


2 YEARS ON

Jared Insell <stills_37@hotmail.com> (23.07.2003)

I have to agree with you on this one. 2 Years On has to be the most underrated album in the Bee Gees extensive discography. Critics and fans tend to bash this album while praising Trafalgar. Personally I believe 2 Years On simply outshines Trafalgar. Neither album is the greatest masterpiece in the world but 2 Years On has variety in music while Trafalgar is 50 minutes of basically ballads, some great some very terrible. 'Lonely Days' is the obvious highlight on this one, but most the other songs here are very noteworthy. 'Man For All Seasons' was 'Lonely Days' b-side and it deserved to be a hit in my opinion. The title track is pretty good too, I like the tempo change! 'Back Home' is short but has to be a standout here. Why the hell didn't these guys do more pop rockers? The rest of this album is solo compositions by each brother, which isn't awful or anything (sometimes you have to try something different besides they just got back together at this point). Barry's material is pretty damn good. 'The 1st Mistake I Made' is one of the best tracks here. 'Portrait Of Louise' has a chorus that is just pure gold! 'Every Second, Every Minute' reminds me of The Beatles or John Lennon. 'Tell Me Why' is the weakest thing here but even that is listenable. Maurice's funky country rocker 'Lay It On Me' is so damn catchy. Then of course there's Robin's solo wad. With all due respect the man just wasn't on his game in the early 70's. 'Alone Again' passes the test but only because the awesome chorus. 'Sincere Relation' is barely listenable, downright depressing, and Robin goat vibroto is all over this. Blah! The last track 'I'm Weeping' has a neat arrangement but Robin's voice and the rest of this song just completely hamper it. Overall a nice little album with some great songs. It's Barry and Maurice's solo stuff here that makes me wish they release their solo projects they made prior to recording this. Overall though this album deserves better recognition a personal fave of mine from these dudes.


TRAFALGAR

Michael Scutari <scutarim@executiveboard.com> (24.10.2000)

i don't know dude. Barry says, "I have met the jaded tiger/And every tiger knows my name" (???) in "Don't wanna live inside myself" while Robin sounds like a strangled chicken at the end of "Lion in Winter." I totally dig these reviews but many sweeping generalizations ("This would possibly make the greatest Bee Gees album ever") are kinda moot and plain wrong, seeing that Odessa is their best; if not one of the best of the 60s, ever. Additionally, Horizontal is equally brilliant and more consistent. (And Idea is amazing too!) They're 2 of the best albums of the whole era! Neglecting them is like neglecting to review Revolver and Srgt. Peppers, etc....blah blah.

But keep up the good work!


TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

Bob Josef <Trfesok@aol.com> (30.07.2000)

"Paper Mache" the best song? I agree that it could have fit on their first album, but to me that's not a compliment. Childish, singsongy, very irritating. Five years later, they really should have moved on from this kind of stuff.

I originally found a cheap copy of this album because I wanted "Alive," which I find to be one of their best, most sweepingly powerful ballads. Unlike the sappy "Run to Me," which shows them continuing to steer towards Barry Manilow territory ("How do You Mend a Broken Heart" was the first offender in this regard). The rest I don't find so bad -- kind of fun, if not deep, pop songs. But this one, I agree, shows that the brothers' style was starting to get stale.

<Mondaysrain7@aol.com> (02.07.2001)

I find It odd that you keep referring to Robins voice as a goat and over emoting. Apparently you just arn't fond of his voice because the goat sound is generally referred to as vibrato which Robin gibb is particularly famous for and in fact he sings in this style more often then not. As for the song 'Never been alone' it is my favotire on this Album! It is sung soulfully and the Lyrics are interseting to say the least. I think the simplicity of this track is appealing as opposed to so much Orchestration.

Steven De Leeuw <sfpdeleeuw@netscape.net> (13.05.2004)

While reading your review of the above mentioned album, I was particularly struck by your comment that "Robin has completely switched onto that shitty trembling tenor that he'd only displayed occasionally before. Apparently, he thought that this renders his singing more convincing and his vocal delivery more emotional, but I can't see how anybody could really fall over his goaty generic crooning. This is called 'over-emoting', and since there is no obvious reason for that on any Bee Gees song, this type of over-emoting just stinks. Sorry Robin. "So, you obviously don't like Robin's vibrato. No problem there. "De gustibus non est disputandum ", as the Romans already knew. ( Personally, I tend to agree with people who refer to Robin as " the Pavarotti of pop music ", although I realise that this isn't necessarily an unmitigatedly positive remark, taking into account the way "Big Lucy" is viewed by many people...) Anyway, I just thought you might be interested in a possible explanation of the fact that Robin started to use this vibrato more and more since the beginning of the seventies. That's why I'm taking the liberty of sending you the following story, that was told by Robin's brother Barry in the "This is where I came in "- DVD a couple of years ago.

On 5th November 1967, when Robin was just 17 (coming up to 18, his birthday's 22nd December) he was returning from Hastings by train with his girlfriend Molly. But as the train began to approach Hither Green, it began to shake, and then came off the tracks and bounced along for what seemed like ages to Robin and the other passengers. Many years later, Robin said in an interview, that "There was just the two of us in the compartment, and we ended up upside down, hearing people screaming. I got out of the carriage and walked along the side, seeing bodies everywhere. I pulled people from the wreckage." He added that when you're in a situation like that, you don't know your own strength, and that he was "bruised afterwards, after lifting people out who were twice my weight." His girlfriend Molly said just after the accident how "Robin has the knack of being able to cheer people up. There we were, sitting on an upturned carriage, badly shaken and aware of a complete shambles, when Robin suddenly remarked, 'All this, just to get to Battersea Funfair. It eased the tension for everybody. But when we got to the hospital, he just broke up. When Robin's father was driving us home, Rob could not stop crying from shock." Robin's twin Maurice also knew something was up, even before they saw the news and found out. Maurice said, "We were waiting for Robin to join us and I stood up and said, 'I think something's happened to Robin.'" Robin and the others were taken to the hospital, where Robin and Molly waited for his family to arrive. Robin said later that "the hospital scenes were absolutely horrifying - seeing the people with the kind of injuries they had. It was literally like being in World War II."

It's a rather morbid story, but it certainly seems to have had a profound effect on Robin. Barry later said about this that "It took an incident like that to take out the pathos in Robin's voice, and it has been there ever since..."


LIFE IN A TIN CAN

Michael Scutari <scutarim@executiveboard.com> (16.03.2001)

I like how in "Method to My Madness," Robin sings the same nonsensical verse ("I played the game/Still it's not worth it/Like a woman in the rain" ???) three times. Three!

Bill Slocum <slokes@optonline.net> (02.04.2004)

A strangely acoustic, country-flavored offering from the Gibbsters, not their best work. They seem to be consciously trying to Americanize their music, with pedal steel and stories of gunfighters and gangsters and one-way rides, garnering limited results. I always thought the distinctly European character of the Bee Gees' work, particularly their early stuff but right up to the end, was a great part of their charm. [That despite the fact they actually took off as recording artists in Australia; hell, we all know how flexible these guys are.] But here they strait-jacket themselves to a very narrow stylistic range, very different from what they handled before except on an odd track here and there, and the results are not exciting.

You picked the right favorite, George: "While I Play" has the best sound, it kicks more than a little and features some cool fuzz-guitar tones and nice vocalizing from Barry. I'd have thrown this on their hit compilation "Tales Of The Brothers Gibb," though they opted to spotlight "Saw A New Morning" instead, ignoring the rest. "Saw A New Morning" is certainly more representative of the rest of the album, its hopeful tone scoring a point or two. It just drags on too long, like everything else here. That despite the fact only one song here is over five minutes. They just sound longer.

"South Dakota Morning," "Saw A New Morning," "Living In Chicago," "My Life Has Been A Song," "Come Home Johnny Bridie." Just the titles tell you these guys were in a rut. Yet there are pleasures here, momentary ones like Barry's middle-eight sections in Robin's otherwise solo spot "My Life Has Been A Song." You almost can hear echoes of "Guilty," their Barbra Streisand project from 1980, in Barry's line "Every sound in my head/Every word that I've said/Is like a melody."

But not every sound in your head or every word that you said is a melody, which is why some editing would have been useful. I can enjoy this album as a dedicated Bee Gees fan interested in their most earnest effort at aligning themselves with the denim singer-songwriter movement, a year or two late. They did a lot of moving, and this wasn't a success, but it was something different. It just ain't anything to recommend to anyone who isn't convinced Cucumber Castle and Mr. Natural are two of the 20th century's most overlooked masterpieces.


MR NATURAL

No reader comments yet.


SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER

Thomas Mckeown <t.mckeown@cns.norfolk.sch.uk> (11.12.2000)

I used to consider the songs on here the grooveiest I'd ever heared - that is, the principle object of the album is to make you feel groovey; not the same as dance music - the aim of the music here is to make you want to jump up and start wiggling your ass around in the aproved fashion, but to restrain you from doing so - which is a lot more fun than actually doing it. Then I heared The Stone Roses' "Fool's Gold" and I realised the Brothers Gibb had some competition. However, the whole Madchester vibe was different from that of disco music - whilst disco music celebrated the kitsch and the cheesy and made it seem cool, Madchester attempted to get to the very escence of what makes some things groovey.

This is the only Bee Gees album I'm familiar with, and so I'm not much of a judge, but I would say that this album should deserve to be the Bee Gees memorial to history, as it still manages to get people up and dancing and enjoying themselves - and you don't have to be with other people at a club to appreciate it; it requires no social stimulant! Of course, not serious art, but still, a worthy musical achievment.

Glenn Wiener <GJW0721@aol.com> (23.06.2002)

We're pretty much on the same page here. The Bee Gee songs have some good hooks particularly "Stayin' Alive", "Jive Talking", and "You Should Be Dancin'". "Disco Inferno" by the Tramps is pretty cool too even if its a bit long. However the Disco beat saps some of the creativity as the musicians rely to much on special effects.

Bill Slocum <slokes@optonline.net> (03.02.2004)

Was Saturday Night Fever just a half-Bee Gees album plus filler? Don't let MFSB or the Trammps see you say that. The soundtrack for the movie that launched disco's second and most influential wave was more than just the four tracks recorded especially for the moment by the Brothers Gibb.

Okay, maybe not so much more. Actually, the David Shire instrumental numbers, such as "Night On Disco Mountain," were designated filler, reportedly the product of an single afternoon's session designed to pad out an additional side worth of material so RSO could ship the result as a double album. Amazingly, the Shire pieces ("Manhattan Skyline" being the other) work quite fine at sustaining the urgent, cosmopolitan, sophisticated sexual urgency of the rest of "Saturday Night Fever." The other tracks, particularly "Disco Inferno" by the Trammps, but also Kool & the Gang's "Open Sesame" and KC and the Sunshine Band's "Boogie Shoes," make a strong case for the power of disco music beyond the Bee Gees. But this album would be nothing without the four tracks the Gibb Brothers did especially for this album.

Those songs are "Night Fever," "Staying Alive," "More Than A Woman," and "How Deep Is Your Love." Add to that a song they gave away at the 11th hour to another RSO artist (former Eric Clapton sidewoman Yvonne Elliman, who performs "If I Can't Have You" like her life and yours depended on it) and you have disco's strongest case for forbearance. These are polished, focused, well-crafted gems that would do any genre proud. It just so happens this particular genre was disco. Deal with it. Disco music at its best was great, exciting, enthralling, a form of aural seduction tapping into the human desire to dance, and no less authentic for that than rockabilly or the blues, but the Bee Gees' contributions to SNF was more than that: It was the summation of the form, a consummation of the craft. It can be argued disco died here only because there was no way left to improve on it.

Adding "Jive Talking" and "You Should Be Dancing" to this collection is stacking the deck; the Bee Gees recorded those songs long before this album and they were re-released only because the people making the movie had used them for key sequences filmed in the movie and wouldn't let go of them. But even the four original Bee Gee songs with the Yvonne Elliman performance are enough to make this an essential purchase for anyone who wants to know what pop music at its best was like in the later half of the 1970s.

Throw in Samantha Sang's piercing "Emotion," which the Gee boys also wrote and produced and was separately released at this time, and you have as good a case as any ever made for Beatles-style domination of the pop charts. In the U.S., that's what all that resulted in in March of 1978, a week when four of the top five songs on the Hot 100 were all written and/or recorded by Barry Gibb with or without his brothers (a song written with and for brother Andy Gibb, "Love Is Thicker Than Water," was also part of the mix that week). You had to go back to 1964 to the Beatles debut to find a similar case of chart dominance, and it hasn't happened since.

No, chart success doesn't mean that the Bee Gees were almighty, or even fab. But the songs that were big then all remain big today. You can hear any of them on the radio in their original form driving into work any morning, or else reworked by today's biggest recording stars. Saturday Night Fever is not the best Bee Gee album. I wouldn't even rate it in my personal top five, since there's only an EP's worth of material. What's here is great, but 1976's Children Of The World or 1974's Mr. Natural has more going for it in terms of distance. George makes a nice case elsewhere on this page for Odessa, and there's also Main Course and Bee Gees First. But Saturday Night Fever was clearly a peak, and an unusual one. Who would have thought the artists behind sobfests like "Massachusetts" and "I Started A Joke" could come up with something as pulsating and electric as "Night Fever"? Or with "Staying Alive," just pause and reflect for once on the way the vocals trade off, as the choruses fade in and out like nerve impulses from the brain. So much of what the Bee Gees did here dictates musical style today.

Okay, so no one reading this wants a record Justin Timberlake uses for a blueprint, but how many other albums do people still plug into so shamelessly more than 25 years later, or hold their own so well? Staying Alive, indeed.


SPIRITS HAVING FLOWN

Lee Meadows <living.eyes@ntlworld.com> (10.03.2001)

Just read your review of spirits. I find this review very hard to side with (I agree with all the other reviews!)

This was the first beegees album I got when I was about 14 (Some 10 years after its release!)  This was the lp that got me started on them and still remains a favourite to this day. Upon close listening you will notice that there is not a note out of place. Maybe this over polished effect does not appeal to all but it certainly appealed to 16 million people in 1979!

I agree that 'Tragedy' is the best song on it...in fact it is a very powerfull song that I challenge anyone in this day and age to try and outdo!!

2nd best on it I would say is "spirits". Again powerful and how this could ever be classed as disco I will never know!

It is a good fun, high energy LP that I believe was never produced for critics 20 years down the line but to sell millions at point of release.....a task that they seemed to fullfil.After all they are all in it to make money!

Alex Badini <abadinig@Uni-Hohenheim.DE> (21.04.2001)

What a shame that you don't like falsetto. I think this is why you hate this album. Wouldn't you agree that musically the songs are great? My opinion is that falsetto is overused here. But on the other hand that's what people wanted to hear. And the Bee Gees do commercial music. You exagerate by saying that the whole album is crap.

Tim Roxborogh <tim@roxborogh.com> (09.11.2001)

As a huge Bee Gees fan I have been gripped by all of your reviews even though I haven't neccessarily agreed with everything you've said. However, the fact that you have devoted a great deal of time listening to the Bee Gees is fantastic.

In the case of Spirits Having Flown I completely disagree with you. To date the album has sold over 20 million copies and produced 3 US #1 hits. I find it very hard to believe that an album you desribe as complete crap could accomplish those feats.

'Tragedy' is an incredible record of such detail that "crap" is the furtherest word in my mind. The explosion at the end of the song was created by Barry Gibb belching 5 times into a microphone accompanied by random notes at the bottom end of a piano. And that's not innovative?

In the case of 'Love You Inside Out', ask any black man what the funkiest Bee Gees record is and your answer will be this one.

Another favourite on the album is 'Living Together' which features a brilliant Maurice bass line, especially towards the song's end when all you are hearing is bass, drum and Barry.

The best song on the album for me is the title track. One of two tracks on the album not entirely in falsetto, this is a breath a fresh air and one of my all time favourite Bee Gees songs. The chord progressions are striking and unexpected and the fade out is brilliant.

Despite our difference in opinion on this album I am fascinated to read what you think of other Bee Gees albums. Odessa, Main Course and Size Isn't Everything are 3 of their finest and I'll look forward to your thoughts on those. Keep up the good work.

Bill Slocum <bill.slocum@verizon.net> (30.05.2002)

Spirits Having Flown is a solid if not spectacular addition to the Bee Gees canon. I have to disagree with the "3" rating very strongly, as it's even lower than Life In A Tin Can. "Can" deserves a 4 on your scale, maybe, but no way would I stick Spirits with a measly 3! There's three incredible hit songs on Spirits, and a Brit and a Yank would differ on what they were (the title track charted in the UK, while "Love You Inside Out" was the Brothers' last number one in the U.S.) OK, so maybe pop success is not your only criterion for musical merit. Being Russian, you are entitled to be stubborn like that. But it surprises me you aren't more in tune with songs like "Search, Find" and "Living Together," as they are well in line with the sort of effortless pop confectionary you boldly champion in your reviews of other artists (and even the Bee Gees, in the case of your Trafalgar review.)

"Tragedy" is simply a magnificent pop gem, for all of us old enough to remember it when it came out the sort of song that crystalized what it was about the '70s that made it such a great decade for music. I'll just cite Brian Wilson in his speech inducting the Bee Boys into Rock's Hall of Fame and note that "Too Much Heaven" is not a song so much as a place where people go to sing (OK, all I ever learned to play was the radio, but Brian actually is more accomplished and said that so I stand by it.) "Love You Inside Out" is the standout cut in my estimation, and while I can't speak for black people, I'll go with what Tim Roxborogh said about its funky charm and take my chances.

I can't say I totally think the review was wet. "Until" is a heavy bore, and "Stop (Think Again)" isn't much better, but the album as a whole works for me on the strength of its singles alone, and there are many hidden gems there waiting to be unearthed by the discerning pop fan.


Return to the main index page