Bee Gees: Classic or Dud

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just the other day, a co-worker was saying, "man, that mark is an ASSHOLE." and i leapt to this defense, saying, "oh, he is NOT." and then he asked, "why not?"

and i froze, i really had no answer for him. that is until now! mark, you singlehandedly redeem all of pitchfork. surely, the bee gees aren't greater than abba -- hardly a crime! -- even though they have more great songs. abba's best songs are better than the bee gee's best, that's all. however, if you take "world" off of the first best- of and replace it with "melody fair," you've got an album that'll give gold a run for its money.

what's funny is how it all used to be, "many are quick to judge the bee gees based on their disco work, but few are aware of the classic pop they churned out in the 60s." but now it's "that 60s stuff really isn't my thing, but the saturday night fever soundtrack is great!"

fred solinger, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Admit it, Fred, you think "The Woman in You" from 1984 or so is their best song.

And, alas, you and Mark are both wrong in my eyes, because you are making the wrong claims. You don't want the songs, you want the image, the beards, tans and gold medallions, as Nicole indicated. Admit you are both Lotharios.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

What a disturbing image that is, Ned.

Ally, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

I forgot to mention the teeth.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

DAMN YOU NED.

Ally, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

THey sing like wussies.

-- Mike Hanley, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

ned, you and nicole say all of this like this isn't what i'm doing, like this isn't who i already am.

fred solinger, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

I already let the cat out of the bag and told Josh what you really looked like, Fred: an indie boy.

Ally, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

All I know is that ANY discussion of the Bee Gees & their chest hair must include unabashed praise of "How Deep Is Your Love". God damn it, any of those fucking Swedes crapping out synth ballads for the next Lou Perlman Production should listen to this song and just GIVE UP.

If I could rescue that song from the disco hell that is the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, I'd be very, very, very, very happy. Two, twice, two times.

So, Fred, you're saying that someone with interest in the Gibb's frilly baroque pop period should start with Odessa?

David Raposa, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

I was about to say, Fred. I've seen your sweet limpid eyes -- you're not *man* enough to be from Australia.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

I see where Tom is coming from. "Massachussetts", "Words", "World" and "First of May" all make me feel sick. I like "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?" though.

Classic Bee Gees singles: "Jive Talkin'", "You Should Be Dancing", "Stayin' Alive", "Tragedy". "Night Fever" just isn't strong enough, "Spirits (Having Flown)" is just too twee, all the singles from 1987 onwards are execrable AOR.

Robin Carmody, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

david, yes. it's a concept album about love and loss at sea at the turn of the century (20th, that is). lots of strings and horns and some psychedelia and mercifully only one "joke" track (about squaredancing!). title track is probably the most ambitious thing they've ever done and it works.

robin, i have to admit that i'm a sucker for "first of may," especially in the context of odessa where it's theme of young love lost forever is amplified to the nth degree. and "night fever" is FABULOUS, the string arranging is brilliant and it's so well composed (with three distinct parts).

fred solinger, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Swedes?

-- Mike Hanley, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Oh, I like "Night Fever" *objectively*. It just doesn't do as much for me as I always feel it should.

"First of May" is such a sad whinge for Innocence Lost, though ...

Robin Carmody, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Fucking classic - because they grew up in my state's capital city, because they met my mum when she was but a wee teenage whore, and because they along with air supply make the best australian music to be lonely to.

Geoff, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

oh, and i only dress like barry gibb when i go to work. someone stands at the entrance of the floor ready to cue "staying alive" so that i may strut my way into the office. when i leave, the top four buttons get buttoned and the gold medallion hidden.

fred solinger, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

classic, they are not australian though as they were all born in the uk and all of their success came while they were in the uk. andy gibb was silly. maurice married lulu, lucky guy. barry's pants had very severe crotch cuts.

keith, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

yeah but keith _we_ gave them their first break with Spics & Specks. (no disrespect to the hispanics on board.)

Geoff, Thursday, 7 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

There's a heap o'way cool moms connected to this forum. (And Clarke's Dad, also...)

(Geoff, you're not actually hinting you're a Bee Gee by Blood, are you?)

mark s, Thursday, 7 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

not unless the beegees were two alcoholic depressed pseudo catholics living in Toowoowmba for all of their lives. Dad did have a really bad beard from 1976-89 though.

Geoff, Thursday, 7 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

3 months pass...
Please check out Trafalger (spelling?), Bee Gees First, Cucumber Castle, etc... They are all amazing. The pre-disco Bee Gees is the best parts of Bowie, Walker, Lennon/McCartney, and early Elton John. They were total pop gods. That stuff even gets you into liking the disco stuff as you see where it came from.

Mark, Sunday, 30 September 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

2 years pass...
what was I saying upthread all that time ago??? "World" is extraordinary!

robin carmody (robin carmody), Saturday, 15 November 2003 03:22 (11 years ago) Permalink

and I was way too hard on "Spirits (Having Flown)"

robin carmody (robin carmody), Saturday, 15 November 2003 03:22 (11 years ago) Permalink

the song, that is, not the LP (which I haven't heard in full)

robin carmody (robin carmody), Saturday, 15 November 2003 03:23 (11 years ago) Permalink

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a song being "twee". "Twee" is a sign of quality.

Geirvald Hongfjeld jr., Saturday, 15 November 2003 03:29 (11 years ago) Permalink

Classic from 1967 until roughly 1970. Dud in the early 70s. Classic around "Main Course". Dud around "Saturday Night Fever". Neither after that.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Saturday, 15 November 2003 03:47 (11 years ago) Permalink

And, no, I doubt Sigvald Grøsfjeld would have said that. He probably hasn't even heard the term..

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Saturday, 15 November 2003 03:52 (11 years ago) Permalink

5 months pass...
A student has just thoughtfully burned me disc 2 of Their Greatest Hits - The Record. Surely I cannot be convinced that "More Than A Woman" is not the best song ever written (or at least under that title. Sorry A, we'll always have "Can I Come Over") (actually I REALLY blame this on Neil and Rachel's Comic Relief dance). My parents had the SNF sndtrk and Abba Greatest Hits Vol. 2 on vinyl, but sadly Pearl Jam never covered either and they grew dust.

Wait, I had a question... *rummages around in bag* Should I buy albums or just stick with singles comps?

Dave M. (rotten03), Monday, 26 April 2004 05:27 (10 years ago) Permalink

My first reaction on seeing this thread was GOD NO! But I had the misfortune to be a teenager when they were at their height and they stood for everything I hated about the 70s. I suppose they are serviceable pop. but I just can't shake them out if their cultural context as hedonistic coke-disco-culture icons.

Orbit (Orbit), Monday, 26 April 2004 05:31 (10 years ago) Permalink

I thought so as well, but I was totally and ecstatically wrong. The route through is as follows: Luomo => Frankie Knuckles mix sets off deephousepage => Donna Summer: On The Radio => Bee Gees => open collared shirts / hedonistic coke disco EXCELSIOR

Dave M. (rotten03), Monday, 26 April 2004 05:33 (10 years ago) Permalink

11 months pass...
Bad style, sure, but so, so classic. Serious props to "(Our Love) Don't Give It All Away" — just a gorgeous chorus. Among the better known songs, "Too Much Heaven" was a #1, I believe, but what a remarkable homage to The Delfonics it is...

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Monday, 25 April 2005 13:32 (9 years ago) Permalink

I heard "One" the other day at Wal-Mart. I'd forgotten what a good song it is – and what great production.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Monday, 25 April 2005 15:32 (9 years ago) Permalink

I came across this last week and thought it was pretty interesting.

Ken L (Ken L), Monday, 25 April 2005 15:36 (9 years ago) Permalink

I admire them. "Mr. Natural" is a great album, their first with Arif Mardin. Their later "disco" stuff is better than their late-'60s music, they adapted. I mean you can't say that about the Easybeats, who were probably better in the '60s. I don't think "Odessa" or "Two Years On" are really great records, but they're real interesting. Robin Gibb's "Robin's Reign" is one of the better oddities of 1970, and I've been listening to the unreleased album he did after that one, "Sing Slowly Sisters," which is truly fucking weird. I like the way the Bee Gees were out in the ether, it sort of doesn't relate to anything and that's always a goal worth striving for.

My pals and I made the trek to Memphis to interview Alex Chilton once, back before he was really famous, and he was living with his mom down there and had no money. We're sitting in this biker bar and he goes off about Gibb's "Robin's Reign," very amusing:

"I mean, I like everything, you know, but then again what I would do would be something different. But Robin Gibb’s solo album, this is before the Bee Gees went disco, he had quit the group, he though he was too great to be in it. I didn’t find it until 1977. I was in New York. I was going through this record store and I always kind of liked Robin Gibb the way he’d stand there like Bette Davis (puts finger in cheek). You know, I thought his songs were the best songs they had done and I saw this album and had to buy it and took it home and it was really great."

edd s hurt (ddduncan), Monday, 25 April 2005 16:07 (9 years ago) Permalink

Funny, I always hated "One".

Interesting about Chilton — Robin's stuff is fantastic. Say what you will, but nobody sounds like him, and Sing Slowly Sisters is really quite a remarkable example of 60's orchestral pop at its most expansive.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Monday, 25 April 2005 17:40 (9 years ago) Permalink

Regarding their pre-Arif Mardin stuff, I haven't really heard near enough to comment. Either it doesn't get very much airplay at all, or I just coincidentally manage to switch to oldies stations immediately after they've just been played.

As for their disco-era stuff, specially their "Saturday Night Fever" contributions: Classic. But I'm reminded of an accurate comment Matty made recently on the "Supertramp's Breakfast In America: C or D? thread. An unflattering comparison was made between both groups and their over-reliance on "mewling" falsetto lead vocals. A complaint I can totally relate to, despite my giving both groups "classic" status.

Myonga Von Bontee (Myonga Von Bontee), Monday, 25 April 2005 17:54 (9 years ago) Permalink

"Massachusetts" and "Lonely Days" were hits from that era. Even I, a fan of all things baroque-pop and so forth, find "Odessa" and "Trafalgar" and "Two Years On" tough going, like I can't really sit thru the whole album, altho individual songs are wrong/interesting/about something completely bizarre/stupid enough/enough strange mediated pop tricks in them, etc., to make me listen.

edd s hurt (ddduncan), Monday, 25 April 2005 18:19 (9 years ago) Permalink

There's not really a weak track on Odessa, is there?

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Monday, 25 April 2005 18:23 (9 years ago) Permalink

Oh, I don't know, like I say, I have a high tolerance for this kind of thing, but I find the title track of "Odessa" pretty much unlistenable. Big inspiration on the Decemberists, I'd say. It just sounds wrong to me, even I as admire the skill involved, I just don't see the point. I like "Suddenly" a lot. I much prefer the "Horizontal" album.

edd s hurt (ddduncan), Monday, 25 April 2005 18:29 (9 years ago) Permalink

Whatever happened to the fourth bee gee, I wonder?

Leon Future Coffee (Ex Leon), Monday, 25 April 2005 18:31 (9 years ago) Permalink

The Bee Gees never ever surpassed their 1967 debut. Remains the best thing they ever did.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Tuesday, 26 April 2005 10:56 (9 years ago) Permalink

their '70s, disco music is better than "Bee Gees' 1st."

edd s hurt (ddduncan), Tuesday, 26 April 2005 14:16 (9 years ago) Permalink

Debatable when the record in question contains "Holiday"...

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Tuesday, 26 April 2005 14:54 (9 years ago) Permalink

Also "Odessa" has "Lamplight" and "Edison" and "First of May" on it, it should be noted. "Odessa" is not their first album.

A Viking of Some Note (Andrew Thames), Tuesday, 26 April 2005 14:56 (9 years ago) Permalink

How's thehir '80s output – "E.S.P." and all that stuff? Those records were big in Europe, whatever that means.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Tuesday, 26 April 2005 15:10 (9 years ago) Permalink

Well put — and I have no idea.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Tuesday, 26 April 2005 15:15 (9 years ago) Permalink

I like the early hits a lot but there is something a little thin and samey sounding about the production and arrangements so I can't bear to listen to them all in a row. We should really start a Bee Gees POX and put money where mouth is. I'd do it but I don't have my ten picked out yet.

Ken L (Ken L), Tuesday, 26 April 2005 15:25 (9 years ago) Permalink

"ESP" has "You Win Again" on it at least (I'm pretty sure), that song's up there w/anything they did

A Viking of Some Note (Andrew Thames), Tuesday, 26 April 2005 15:32 (9 years ago) Permalink

I'm making a bestof Bee Gees (and Robin Gibb, too) CD for my girlfriend--the early stuff. "Mr. Natural," the more I listen, is really incredible, maybe their best single album-as-album...

edd s hurt (ddduncan), Tuesday, 26 April 2005 15:42 (9 years ago) Permalink

2 years pass...

this box set is amazing

Shakey Mo Collier, Thursday, 5 July 2007 16:07 (7 years ago) Permalink

jesus, fuck this. g'night, Robin

Stormy Davis, Sunday, 20 May 2012 23:50 (2 years ago) Permalink

Awesome live vocal of a very underrated song:

Naive Teen Idol, Monday, 21 May 2012 14:23 (2 years ago) Permalink

I love bustin' out classic Bee Gees for those (most?) that only know their disco stuff:

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 21 May 2012 15:06 (2 years ago) Permalink

Mr. Natural is all time

RIP Robin

Roger Barfing (Shakey Mo Collier), Monday, 21 May 2012 15:26 (2 years ago) Permalink

If we had someone who was willing to run the poll, I'd say we should bump this one up a la Beasties...

Naive Teen Idol, Monday, 21 May 2012 15:37 (2 years ago) Permalink

I'd be happy to do it but I kinda doubt we'd get many votes...

Roger Barfing (Shakey Mo Collier), Monday, 21 May 2012 15:55 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah nobody has heard those early-mid 70s records. well not nobody but... can't imagine we'd get too many folks repping for deep cuts from 'life in a tin can'

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Monday, 21 May 2012 16:06 (2 years ago) Permalink

I've got all kinds of love for Trafalgar, Mr. Natural, and To Whom it May Concern myself, but yeah these are not popular opinions

Roger Barfing (Shakey Mo Collier), Monday, 21 May 2012 16:10 (2 years ago) Permalink

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Monday, 21 May 2012 16:12 (2 years ago) Permalink

big o has this pretty good unreleased solo album from 1970. http://bigozine2.com/roio/?p=1101
RIP. unmistakeable style and voice.

tylerw, Monday, 21 May 2012 16:15 (2 years ago) Permalink

tyler, watch that video above. beautiful footage. beautiful song.

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Monday, 21 May 2012 16:22 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah that is wonderful

tylerw, Monday, 21 May 2012 16:30 (2 years ago) Permalink

I've got all kinds of love for Trafalgar, Mr. Natural, and To Whom it May Concern myself, but yeah these are not popular opinions

IF ONLY THERE WERE A WAY TO FIND OUT.

Seriously, Shakey, why don't we suggest this in the poll thread! If there's any time we could maximize votes, it would be now.

Naive Teen Idol, Monday, 21 May 2012 16:56 (2 years ago) Permalink

Oddly, the only three Bee Gees albums I've ever owned were To Whom, Tin Can and Mr. Natural; radio promos I brought home. Sold 'em, and honestly can't remember much of any of them, but that clip of Mr. Natural brought the memory of that one back big time.

Soccer mom, hopeless and lost, in utter despair (Dan Peterson), Monday, 21 May 2012 17:05 (2 years ago) Permalink

Tin Can is pretty crap

Roger Barfing (Shakey Mo Collier), Monday, 21 May 2012 17:11 (2 years ago) Permalink

I was just spinning some Bee Gees and 'Nights on Broadway' came up, which I love...and I remembered Fallon & Timberlake used it as the SNL Barry Gibb Talk Show theme song and I got SO teary and then I had to laugh at myself and ugh I'm just so bummed

I know Robin was sick but still, I really hate not having him anymore. I loved them for so long.

Peppermint Patty Hearst (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 21 May 2012 17:12 (2 years ago) Permalink

every time I watch a live clip I still get blown away by how there's barely any drop-off between them in the studio and them on stage...

Peppermint Patty Hearst (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 21 May 2012 17:17 (2 years ago) Permalink

that's what happens when you've been performing since you were like 6 years old. they were pros.

barry sometimes seems to be fake-playing guitar in live gigs.

robin looks almost normal there.

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Monday, 21 May 2012 18:23 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah I've noticed the fake-playing too

Peppermint Patty Hearst (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 21 May 2012 18:24 (2 years ago) Permalink

Had no idea the Bee Gees completely missed the UK album charts from late 1970-76. Main Course was huge in the US.

Conversely, they were all but banned from US radio in the early to mid 80s, the Bee Gees having been the biggest target of the disco backlash. I doubt many Americans have heard "You Win Again".

I really like Mr. Natural, a transitional album that catches them just as they were starting to search for a new sound.

Lee971 (Lee626), Monday, 21 May 2012 21:55 (2 years ago) Permalink

My pals and I made the trek to Memphis to interview Alex Chilton once, back before he was really famous, and he was living with his mom down there and had no money. We're sitting in this biker bar and he goes off about Gibb's "Robin's Reign," very amusing:

"I mean, I like everything, you know, but then again what I would do would be something different. But Robin Gibb’s solo album, this is before the Bee Gees went disco, he had quit the group, he though he was too great to be in it. I didn’t find it until 1977. I was in New York. I was going through this record store and I always kind of liked Robin Gibb the way he’d stand there like Bette Davis (puts finger in cheek). You know, I thought his songs were the best songs they had done and I saw this album and had to buy it and took it home and it was really great."

<3 alex chilton

buzza, Monday, 4 June 2012 06:55 (2 years ago) Permalink

2001 ilx vmic

buzza, Monday, 4 June 2012 06:56 (2 years ago) Permalink

attention ye robin gibb mourners -- bee gees polling in effect, 10 ballots received and we would love more contributions :D

Peppermint Patty Hearst (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 9 June 2012 04:35 (2 years ago) Permalink

Do your civic duty people.

Naive Teen Idol, Saturday, 9 June 2012 12:06 (2 years ago) Permalink

6 months pass...

Robin's vocal on "Black Diamond" is so virtuosic. When he shifts into his throat and then does that fake soul impression on the repetition of the "He wa' leavin' in the morning" line - that's really something else.

― Tim Ellison

so otm

buzza, Saturday, 15 December 2012 11:08 (1 year ago) Permalink

Not enough love here for the 60s stuff, which is my favourite Bee Gees. It wasn't all twee; some of it kinda rocked (the Earnest of Being George, In My Own Time, Idea). There's some great McCartney-inspired bass playing on some of that stuff, clearly Maurice really dug Revolver. Robin was one helluva vocalist - actually, singer. We can call him a singer. Listen to "Really and Sincerely", wow. Even his emoting in "I Started A Joke" can move you if you let it.

Plus, they were funny. Stuff like "I've Decided To Join The Airforce" and "Craise Finton Kirk" are wonderfully sardonic in a somewhat cheerier-than-Ray-Davies mold.

Classic, no question. Even before they became Kings of Disco. Even if they never did that thing.

Doctor Flange, Sunday, 16 December 2012 23:55 (1 year ago) Permalink

all their mid-'60s to early '70s albums bursting with great deep cuts, and sometimes outtakes.

Lee626, Monday, 17 December 2012 23:04 (1 year ago) Permalink

am thinking of picking up the Mythology box set

any naysayers out there?

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 27 December 2012 16:34 (1 year ago) Permalink

1 year passes...

^ by bob stanley

just sayin, Monday, 14 July 2014 20:37 (4 months ago) Permalink

nice, thank you.

I dunno. (amateurist), Tuesday, 15 July 2014 04:03 (4 months ago) Permalink

Yes, very nice, thks. Guess I should go ahead and get the book.

I Need Andmoreagain (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 15 July 2014 10:23 (4 months ago) Permalink


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