DON'T FORGET TO REMEMBER: The Official ILM Track-By-Track BEE GEES 1968-1981 Listening Thread

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Put on your 18th century frock coat and/or satin windbreaker and pull up a chair as we explore the dizzying highs and breathtaking lows of over two-decades of the Brothers Gibb! This will probably take the better part of a year, even doing a song a day, so let's get this party started.
(not pictured: the best Bee Gee)

Οὖτις, Friday, 14 December 2018 16:42 (nine months ago) link

shit this should be 1967-1981 d'oh

Οὖτις, Friday, 14 December 2018 16:49 (nine months ago) link

first up, from Bee Gees 1st, "Turn of the Century". In the vein of other late 60s chamber-pop psych pining for bygone eras, fashions, and manners (The Association's "Wasn't It a Bit Like Now", The Hollies "Ye Olde Toffee Shoppe", Tomorrow's "Auntie Mary's Dress Shop" etc.) and yet I think this one harkens *back* the farthest - not just to the 20s or pre-war UK but actually to the previous fucking century. For who among us has not longed for hoop skirts, unwieldy bicycles, and oversized cravats. As with many other tracks on this album, it sounds hastily composed and is not particularly complex and has daft lyrics - but the eerie orchestration, harmonies and finely tuned melodies ultimately sell it. The teary-eyed nostalgia for a vanished British Empire was a mode Robin would return to again and again.

Οὖτις, Friday, 14 December 2018 17:38 (nine months ago) link


Οὖτις, Friday, 14 December 2018 19:08 (nine months ago) link

Not a great idea to launch this when (seemingly) 90% of ILXors are getting all giddy and light-headed over an indie band from Glasgow.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Friday, 14 December 2018 19:12 (nine months ago) link

But, yes, "Turn of the Century", much better than those other songs you cited, not as good as the Bonzos' "The Equestrian Statue" though, which resembles this.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Friday, 14 December 2018 19:19 (nine months ago) link

huh didn't know that particular Bonzos track

Οὖτις, Friday, 14 December 2018 19:30 (nine months ago) link

so many harpsichords, when is someone gonna bring back the harpsichord in pop music

Οὖτις, Friday, 14 December 2018 19:30 (nine months ago) link

A concert favourite for over 30 years, Maurice Gibb often provided the audience with comedic antics by attempting many failed attempts to join Barry and Robin while singing this song. Evidence of this can be seen in the 1989 "One For All" concert video where Maurice takes a camera from a film cameraman standing nearby and films Barry and Robin as they sing the song.

Who knows what this song is about, really. Beautifully eerie.

Οὖτις, Saturday, 15 December 2018 16:30 (nine months ago) link

i’m in !!

budo jeru, Saturday, 15 December 2018 16:56 (nine months ago) link

I'm in too. Coincidentally, I'm writing about these dudes tonight.

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 15 December 2018 17:00 (nine months ago) link

FUCK YES I'm so glad I suggested this

"Who knows what this song is about" is an excellent question about so many bee gees songs

resident hack (Simon H.), Saturday, 15 December 2018 18:02 (nine months ago) link

god some of these early songs should really be licensed out for horror soundtracks

resident hack (Simon H.), Saturday, 15 December 2018 18:04 (nine months ago) link

they have to be the weirdest looking gaggle of freaks ever to become oversexed pop stars

resident hack (Simon H.), Saturday, 15 December 2018 18:07 (nine months ago) link

"Who knows what this song is about" is an excellent question about so many bee gees songs

I think a lot of them are about fitting any old words that'll do to a good tune, they have written some very weird lyrics over the years.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Saturday, 15 December 2018 18:28 (nine months ago) link

I think they were quite good lyricists from time to time, but it’s clear from their demos and recording habits that their overriding priority was always melodies (and harmonies) first and foremost

Οὖτις, Saturday, 15 December 2018 19:37 (nine months ago) link

imho this is an excellent approach to lyric creation

resident hack (Simon H.), Saturday, 15 December 2018 19:43 (nine months ago) link

so many harpsichords, when is someone gonna bring back the harpsichord in pop music

something something indie band from Glasgow...

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Sunday, 16 December 2018 11:25 (nine months ago) link

Oh ffs.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Sunday, 16 December 2018 12:26 (nine months ago) link

yknow, I'll be interested when you guys get to tunes that Maurice sang…like I have the 1990 box set, but I can't tell the difference easily between his voice and Barry's, at least in the early years…like what's the most prominent tune he sang? or what's the song that's most his but one of the other two sang? My understanding is that he was the boffin of the three, but there must be something else noteworthy about him…it does seem that Barry was the massively talented one, and Robin was notably toothsome, charmingly awkward…

veronica moser, Sunday, 16 December 2018 13:24 (nine months ago) link

He only very occasionally had a lead vocal - and I don't think he sounded much like Barry, he didn't have a particularly distinctive voice, he did a good John Lennon impersonation though! I would say the title track of "Trafalgar" is his most prominent vocal?

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Sunday, 16 December 2018 13:50 (nine months ago) link

I know him best as keyboarist and harmonist.

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 16 December 2018 13:50 (nine months ago) link

did maurice do lead on "have you heard the word?"

errang (rushomancy), Sunday, 16 December 2018 13:53 (nine months ago) link

(xp) Bass player!

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Sunday, 16 December 2018 13:55 (nine months ago) link

Of course. Less so on later albums.

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 16 December 2018 13:58 (nine months ago) link

One odd thing about Barry Gibb, of course, is that he plays in Open D tuning. Worth remembering if you're trying to learn Bee Gees songs on guitar!

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Sunday, 16 December 2018 14:07 (nine months ago) link

Today’s entry, more flutes and mellotron and some nonsense lyrics about childhood (afaict). A goat appears to have snuck into the studio towards the end. To me, this one always feels a little bit of a piece w Syd Barrett’s similar obsession w fairytales, nursery rhyme sorta stuff (albeit w out the same level of creepy undertow)

Οὖτις, Sunday, 16 December 2018 16:06 (nine months ago) link

This possibly their most psychedelic track, though there's a lot of them - it's brilliant anyway.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Sunday, 16 December 2018 19:23 (nine months ago) link

By the way, to return to the earlier discussion on Maurice's contribution to the band, I believe he's responsible for the mellotron on this and other tracks.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Sunday, 16 December 2018 19:26 (nine months ago) link

Yeah his bass and keyboard playing is p distinctive. Not sure what his first lead vocal is - one of his tracks from odessa or cucumber castle maybe?

Οὖτις, Sunday, 16 December 2018 19:59 (nine months ago) link

And four songs into the first album we finally get something with a relatively conventional lyrical POV, and one the bros would mine extensively - the pleading lover. Musically I don't think it's that distinctive from other orchestral balladry of the era, but it's not bad.

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 16:28 (nine months ago) link

Who are those other 2 rando's on the cover of this album? Also, is Maurice getting a message on one of those secret service earpieces, or did he just have a toothache?

enochroot, Monday, 17 December 2018 18:45 (nine months ago) link

the other two are the drummer (Colin Petersen) and the lead guitarist (Vince Melouney)

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 18:46 (nine months ago) link

wiki implies that Maurice's first solo vocal turns are on Odessa ("Suddenly", where you can definitely tell him apart from Barry and Robin; less so on "I Laugh in Your Face")

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 18:48 (nine months ago) link

(xp) Yes, they were a fully-fledged band by the time they got (back) to the UK.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Monday, 17 December 2018 18:51 (nine months ago) link

Could "In My Own Time" be them at their most beatlesque? The bass line definitely bears a strong resemblance to Taxman.

enochroot, Monday, 17 December 2018 18:53 (nine months ago) link

no skipping ahead!

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 18:54 (nine months ago) link

(but yes)

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 18:54 (nine months ago) link

My bad - i have no idea how these listening threads work... someone mentioned "One Minute Woman" already, but there was no mention of "Holiday".

enochroot, Monday, 17 December 2018 18:56 (nine months ago) link

They're not exactly short of Beatleseque tracks.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Monday, 17 December 2018 18:58 (nine months ago) link

"Holiday" was posted on Saturday

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 19:31 (nine months ago) link

Missed it too, great song, great non-ovine vocal from Robin too.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ (Tom D.), Monday, 17 December 2018 19:35 (nine months ago) link

Ah, so it's a track a day. Got it.
(i'll save my Taxman/Doctor Robert comparisons for tomorrow)

enochroot, Monday, 17 December 2018 20:41 (nine months ago) link

I can skip tracks on weekends, if ppl aren't around as much

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 20:53 (nine months ago) link

I almost missed this! Yay! Bookmarking so I can join in. Thanks for starting this up Shakey... we are in for QUITE a journey I think! :D

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 17 December 2018 20:55 (nine months ago) link

I missed the start of this as well. Cool idea – tho maybe we should name the song explicitly? Esp. since the song titles don’t show up if using the app and they’re embedded in videos.


Turn of the Century – not much I have to add to Οὖτις’s take on this.

Holiday –

Who knows what this song is about, really. Beautifully eerie.

Yeah no idea but Robin singing about puppets and repeating “Throwing stones” in a descending melodic turn defines melancholy. The first Robin classic if not a three-hanky one.

Red Chair Fadeaway – I love the “IIIIII can feel/The speaking sky” twist of the chorus. There are bits here near the end of the choruses where the melody drops away and the drums and bass keep pounding away and there are little trumpet flourishes that have, yeah, a real Revolver/the tape is still rolling feel. But the whole thing feels a little too “psychedelia for your auntie” to be mistaken for that record.

One Minute Woman – not sure I have much to say beyond that it’s one of Barry’s earliest soul tunes and fairly successful for what it is.

Naive Teen Idol, Monday, 17 December 2018 21:25 (nine months ago) link

Great thread. I don't expect to add much but will listen with pleasure.

Ned Trifle X, Monday, 17 December 2018 21:28 (nine months ago) link

yeah sorry, I will add the songtitles in posts from now on!

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 December 2018 21:34 (nine months ago) link




Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 17 December 2018 22:50 (nine months ago) link

Er key change

Οὖτις, Friday, 16 August 2019 14:15 (one month ago) link

Track No. 138: All This Making Love("Main Course", 1975)

First they had a lot of love, but now like warriors on the edge of time they are TIRED of making love. Also tired of coming up with decent songs, evidently, cuz oof this one sticks out like a sore thumb next to all the other quality material. Swapping the disco heartbeat for an oompah band rhythm, we are treated to six verses in a row of a male hustler's lament, complete with silly voices and sound effects (check out that tiger's roar) in the background. Kendall and Blue Weaver get in a little bit of semi-interesting guitar/synth interplay during the guitar solo verse (with a very Beatle-y guitar tone). Robin's sweeter lines come off better than Barry's more strident ones, but "Dirty Work" this is not. Feels like an out-of-place leftover from a previous album.

Οὖτις, Friday, 16 August 2019 15:10 (one month ago) link

I love all their songs about how they got laid too much.

Simon H., Friday, 16 August 2019 15:14 (one month ago) link

you've got to be tender with their love, you know how easy it is to break it

Οὖτις, Friday, 16 August 2019 15:20 (one month ago) link

Yes, it's a strange one this, I like it though!

Euripedes' Trousers (Tom D.), Friday, 16 August 2019 17:19 (one month ago) link

Track No. 139: Country Lanes ("Main Course", 1975)

Barry gets a co-write, but this is a Robin track to the core, and something of an outlier on the album as a throwback to their melodramatic piano ballads. Also one of their few songs in 3/4. Feels a bit like something Rundgren or Eric Carmen might come up with. Robin of course makes it his own, deploying his quavering vibrato freely. Honestly, the lamest thing about this is probably Barry's unnecessary interjections of "country" in the choruses. If this album were a film, this song would accompany the "morning after" sequence following all that tiresome boogieing and lovemaking, with Robin leading his new lady-love on a tour of his rambling English estate.

Οὖτις, Monday, 19 August 2019 16:08 (four weeks ago) link

Track No. 140: Come on Over ("Main Course", 1975)

Successful as this album was, it's not surprising that the monster R&B jamz on this album would overshadow the odder, deep cuts in the popular consciousness. There's a handful of tracks, including this one, that still bear the hallmarks of their stylistic range and earlier approaches which, while not exactly fitting in with contemporary trends, are nonetheless solid efforts. The vocals on this are wonderful from the get-go, with Robin out front singing the pleading lyric over a piano part that is all curlicues and filigrees. Once the slide guitar comes in it's clear they're hitting that sugary-sweet country-pop ballad target they were aiming for (and largely missing) several years ago circa "Life in a Tin Can". Arif Mardin's hand doesn't sound particularly evident, the production is generally straight ahead and the string arrangement that comes in midway is fairly unobtrusive - everything makes way for the harmonies, accented by some back and forth between the piano and the slide guitar.

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 20 August 2019 15:26 (four weeks ago) link

I love "Country Lanes", it's basically Robin's last stand before being subsumed in an avalanche of Barryness. I don't know what it's actually about, as per usual, but it gets me right there. "Come On Over" is another good song, well sung by Robin but not especially memorable given the company it's keeping on this album.

Boulez, vous couchez avec moi? (Tom D.), Tuesday, 20 August 2019 15:38 (four weeks ago) link

this album is much more all-over-the-place than I remembered, it's not really that far from the previous two in terms of variety, it's just dominated by the huge hits.

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 20 August 2019 19:42 (four weeks ago) link

I don't know what it's actually about, as per usual, but it gets me right there

bee gees in a nutshell

Simon H., Tuesday, 20 August 2019 20:00 (four weeks ago) link

lol true

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 20 August 2019 20:09 (four weeks ago) link

If this album were a film, this song would accompany the "morning after" sequence following all that tiresome boogieing and lovemaking, with Robin leading his new lady-love on a tour of his rambling English estate.

If they'd had a lot of love last night perhaps?

Boulez, vous couchez avec moi? (Tom D.), Tuesday, 20 August 2019 21:07 (four weeks ago) link

Track No. 140: Edge of the Universe ("Main Course", 1975)

Taking the prize for lyrical what-the-fuckery this time around, a ten-feet tall and three-feet wide Barry appears to don the moniker "Shenandora of the Ar" and gets kozmic with his dog. Robin may have his moments of over-the-top theatricality and melodrama, but this far into their catalog I don't think it's really disputable that when it comes to lyrics, Barry is the bigger weirdo. Musically things hang together much more successfully: the band hits a mid-tempo ELO-ish groove and feel, with a prominent synth line weaving in and out of Barry's lead vocal. Dennis Byron takes the dropped beat in the bridges as a cue to throw in some disorienting fills, but where he really lays into it is on the coda's outgoing plagal cadence. Worth noting that this is preceded by a brief snatch of the guitars, synth, and a bizarrely sped-up backing vocal all hitting the same melody in unison.

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 21 August 2019 16:23 (three weeks ago) link

Yes, this is a strange old song, sort of psychedelic or maybe that's just because the words are like something an acid casualty sitting in a squat in Ladbroke Grove might have come up with. As is par for the course for this album, catchy as hell!

Boulez, vous couchez avec moi? (Tom D.), Wednesday, 21 August 2019 17:39 (three weeks ago) link

Track No. 141: Baby As You Turn Away ("Main Course", 1975)

This has all the hallmarks of earlier Barry material: the shimmering acoustic guitars, the simple chord structures and compelling melodies, dopey lovelorn lyrics, smooth-as-silk harmonies. The key difference this time around is obviously that Barry is singing the lead two octaves above his normal voice in that hard-edged falsetto everybody had become enamored of. Lots of great overlapping vocal melodies throughout, especially in the coda at the end as the acoustic guitars and tambourine lock into that 8th note pattern/groove. A good note to end the album on.

Οὖτις, Thursday, 22 August 2019 15:15 (three weeks ago) link

I guess that last youtube video was a direct transfer from a hand-cranked turntable.
(there's a nice enough song under there somewhere)

enochroot, Thursday, 22 August 2019 15:52 (three weeks ago) link

haha wow sorry about that, there is a lot of weird warbling on there!

here's a better one

Οὖτις, Thursday, 22 August 2019 15:57 (three weeks ago) link

Track No. 142: You Should Be Dancing ("Children of the World", 1976)

Unsurprisingly for the group's only song to ever top the US dance chart, this is pure groove from start to finish. It's also the point at which Barry *really* starts to run shit. They didn't have Arif Mardin anymore due to record label shenanigans, so Barry assumed a lead role in production in addition to his already increased songwriting and singing duties. Robin's essentially relegated to backing vocals as Maurice, after introducing the song's throbbing heartbeat, gamely supplies some energetic basslines. Melodically simpler than anything they'd done up to this point, the song is a dense mix of interlocking motifs from the horns, clavichord, synths, and electric guitar, and of chorus Barry's shrieking falsetto. The band had clearly grasped the essential dynamics of dance music, mixing and matching elements while maintaining a forceful rhythmic drive. Plus percussion from Steven Stills. (always essential! lol)

Οὖτις, Friday, 23 August 2019 20:16 (three weeks ago) link

Was this one of the first records to use drum loops, or am I completely off with that notion?

DJI, Friday, 23 August 2019 20:46 (three weeks ago) link

it is, we'll get to that!

Οὖτις, Friday, 23 August 2019 20:46 (three weeks ago) link

Track No. 143: You Stepped Into My Life ("Children of the World", 1976)

When the Gibbs hit on a formula, they sure knew how to run with it. Barry's falsetto, chicken-scratch guitars, a wash of strings and fender rhodes, an airtight rhythm section, and in this case a synth sound I primarily associate with P-Funk and Bernie Worrell. Even without Mardin behind the boards, they've finely tuned their Miami sound machine so that everything sparkles and the groove never lets up. Melodically eh this is a little boring, Blue Weaver's synth line is probably the most memorable thing about it. Maurice again is relegated to bass and if Robin is anywhere on this track it's indetectable. (I wouldn't be surprised if Robin's biggest contribution to this album was suggesting they all dress as aviators for the cover). That being said, even with Barry firmly in the lead, it's worth noting that song credits on their disco era albums are all almost uniformly split between the three brothers, possibly an act of solidarity on Barry's part that was both smart and generous.

Οὖτις, Monday, 26 August 2019 20:50 (three weeks ago) link

Track No. 144: Love So Right ("Children of the World", 1976)

The second single from the album, showcasing their softer side. A misty-eyed, proto-yacht rock Delfonics homage, with Barry's falsetto nestled in a bed of strings, acoustic guitar, fender rhodes, and synthesizer. The rhythm section deploys a light touch, Maurice and Robin chime in on the refrain, and the lyrics are a bunch of generic cliches. I like that he reins the falsetto in a bit for this gentler material, but when he goes into the shrieking ad libs at the end it feels a little out of place - that's better suited for the dancefloor fillers. Best thing about this song is the chorus, which is definitely catchy, but feels like it wears out its welcome by the end.

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 27 August 2019 20:18 (three weeks ago) link

Oops, missed the last few tracks. I never thought I liked this album much but I like all the tracks so far - "You Should Be Dancing", goes without saying.

Boulez, vous couchez avec moi? (Tom D.), Tuesday, 27 August 2019 20:23 (three weeks ago) link

Track No. 145: Lovers ("Children of the World", 1976)

Listen to that glossy synth tone, damn. The hi-hats, the kick drum,and a palm-muted chicka-chicka wah-wah guitar pattern that is practically a reggae/one-drop rhythm (in places, anyway) keep the groove steady while a wah-wah bass, synths, and a bunch of silly voices dart in and out in polyrhythmic fashion. The instrumentation is actually fairly sparse compared to other tracks, and feels like a close cousin to "Jive Talkin'". What is different here is the overall sound, which is much more rubbery and synthetic than on "Main Course", and the vocal arrangement. I'm not sure if there was a specific inspiration here but it sounds like they were trying to replicate the multi-part techniques of various R&B singing groups that usually had 5 or 6 vocalists with distinct tones/ranges (Temptations, P-Funk) where you'd have guys trading lines. So instead instead of singing thick harmonies they're voices are split - low growly Barry here, Robin (clearly showing that hey, he can do that falsetto thing too!) there, Maurice joining in for the chorus. Robin's voice in particular sounds great when it jumps out, he has a rounder tone that makes his falsetto less shrill than Barry's. The overall effect is sorta goofy, but I love it.

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 28 August 2019 16:03 (two weeks ago) link

honestly this might be my favorite track on this album so far

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 28 August 2019 18:05 (two weeks ago) link

Track No. 146: Can't Keep a Good Man Down("Children of the World", 1976)

Things are so airtight and buffed-to-perfection now. The sound is exceptionally dry (no reverb anywhere!) and cleanly separated, every element - including the Gibbs' voices - isolated with a shiny, plastic clarity. Wah-wah guitars and fender rhodes are thrown up against a choppy horn line and staccato organ and the by now familiar disco groove. The only incongruous element here is, perhaps unsurprisingly, Robin's voice, which really leaps out when he hits his a capella break. Melodically, lyrically, and harmonically there's not a ton going on here, it's very much groove oriented, with various riffs cycling in and out, but the hook in the chorus is not particularly remarkable. Serviceable filler.

Οὖτις, Thursday, 29 August 2019 19:44 (two weeks ago) link

Track No. 146: Boogie Child ("Children of the World", 1976)

Back to the hits, with the third single from the album which peaked at #12. I have to say, the opening bars of this always put me in mind of Nilsson's (abetted by Lennon) "All My Life", although it quickly goes different places. The staccato horn lines are great, very Sly & the Family Stone, as are the "when you're groovin/like you really know" breakdowns. The vocals are again fragmented and split into different lines, working in a call-and-response fashion over the clavichord and wah-wah guitars. And then the song really kind of goes some weird places when the strings come in, running through a series of turnarounds and ascending melody lines until it hits that ghostly drop-off. Barry can't resist throwing in the shrieks at the end but he doesn't really overdo it, thankfully. Lyrically it's a bunch of nonsense about boogieing, which is exactly what the song calls for. I feel like Dr. Teeth and the Muppets could've covered this song.

Οὖτις, Friday, 30 August 2019 18:39 (two weeks ago) link

Track No. 147: Love Me ("Children of the World", 1976)

Robin takes another lead vocal, delivering a mid-tempo ballad that wouldn't have been out of place on "Mr. Natural". Robin's vibrato carries the minor key verses, and is joined by Barry and Maurice when the choruses shift into major, delivering a fairly memorable, pleading hook. Barry butts in with his falsetto for the bridge, since they can't let a song go by on this album without featuring *that*, now could they? Robin responds with some fairly awkward vocal ad-libs of his own. The instrumentation is consistent with the rest of the album, with wah wahs and synths dominating

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 3 September 2019 19:55 (two weeks ago) link

Been away, so missed most of this album. Will try to catch up at some point.

Boulez, vous couchez avec moi? (Tom D.), Tuesday, 3 September 2019 19:57 (two weeks ago) link

the Bee Gees stop for no man!

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 3 September 2019 19:58 (two weeks ago) link

I hadn't really noticed "Lovers" before but it's bonkers! Is it just me or is there some time signature fuckery going on?

Simon H., Wednesday, 4 September 2019 02:33 (one week ago) link

There’s some bars where they drop beats, yeah

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 4 September 2019 02:56 (one week ago) link

Track No. 148: Subway ("Children of the World", 1976)

Right out of the gate there are several things in the introductory chorus that do not bode well for this song: the synth stacked-strings sound, the saxophone wailing, and breathy Barry rhapsodizing about the subway. All of those elements get stripped out for the verses where Barry switches to falsetto, which works a bit better. But Blue Weaver's wandering synth part really gets on my nerves, and Barry can't think of anything better to do than shriek a bunch of wordless ad-libs. This song just does not work.

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 4 September 2019 16:12 (one week ago) link

Track No. 149: The Way it Was ("Children of the World", 1976)

Completely switching gears, the band delivers this throwback piano ballad with Barry in full-on reflective lovelorn mode. Still managing to work that falsetto in there as the song crescendos at the end of each verse, things still feel pretty perfunctory and tossed off. The saxophone at the end threatens to really kick the song into overblown yacht rock territory, but somehow just mercifully peters out instead. Robin and Maurice do not appear to be on the track at all, seems like this is mostly just Barry filling space.

Οὖτις, Friday, 6 September 2019 15:38 (one week ago) link

I don't think these last two songs are that terrible, but I agree they're not especially interesting - mind you, that sax and ending on "The Way It Was" are bad bad bad. As I said before I've never rated this album much in the past but it's pretty easy on the ears.

Boulez, vous couchez avec moi? (Tom D.), Friday, 6 September 2019 17:21 (one week ago) link

Yeah, I'm not that familiar with the order of their discography, but it feels like we're approaching peak Bee Gees here.

enochroot, Sunday, 8 September 2019 00:16 (one week ago) link

Track No. 150: Children of the World ("Children of the World", 1976)

The fourth and final single, the title track opens with a surprising bit of a capella harmonizing, capped off with a ridiculous "there ain't no easy way!" falsetto flourish from Barry before segueing seamlessly into a thick sine-wave synth and acoustic guitar-led groove. Great bubbling synth bass on this too. Lacking the horns and strings and layers of percussion of other, more cluttered groove-heavy songs on the album, the relatively spare arrangement here feels open and airy. After a synth-heavy instrumental breakdown, the boys come back for an a capella key change, a third verse, and then ends on yet another a capella break that is clearly meant to make the final "keeps us all anticipating" line literal. Closes this very Barry-heavy album with a track that spotlights the brothers' harmonies in a sweet way.

Οὖτις, Monday, 9 September 2019 17:24 (one week ago) link

Track No. 151: Stayin' Alive ("Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack, 1976)

What a monster. Innovative, unstoppable, and sounding fully formed from the first bar, every piece of the chugging arrangement perfectly sculpted. I consider this article fairly definitive: when it comes to how this song works the way it does.

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 10 September 2019 20:17 (one week ago) link

Absolutely airtight, a pop landmark. I'll never tire of it.

an incoherent crustacean (MatthewK), Tuesday, 10 September 2019 20:47 (one week ago) link

Obligatory Simpsons reference:

Vernon Locke, Tuesday, 10 September 2019 22:46 (one week ago) link

Fascinating article. Never knew about the drop loop:

The drum loop would go on to have quite a career in its own right, serving as the backbone to not only 'Stayin' Alive' and 'More Than A Woman', but also Barbra Streisand's 'Woman In Love'.

enochroot, Wednesday, 11 September 2019 00:55 (six days ago) link

“After that? Who knows?”

DJI, Wednesday, 11 September 2019 02:30 (six days ago) link

Track No. 152: How Deep Is Your Love ("Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack, 1976)

Initially tagged as one for Yvonne Elliman to do, the boys ended up keeping the song for themselves and then subsequently pushed Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life" out of the number one spot for a record 17 weeks. I was trying to figure this song out on guitar last night and it defeated me. At this point Barry's throwing in all kinds of passing suspended 4ths and minor 6ths into his chord changes and has graduated to a whole new level of melodic complexity. Some of this is definitely Blue Weaver's doing, per his anecdote:

"One morning, it was just myself and Barry in the studio. He said, 'Play the most beautiful chord you know', and I just played, what happened was, I'd throw chords at him and he'd say, 'No, not that chord', and I'd keep moving around and he'd say, 'Yeah, that's a nice one' and we'd go from there. Then I'd play another thing - sometimes, I'd be following the melody line that he already had and sometimes I'd most probably lead him somewhere else by doing what I did. I think Robin came in at some point. Albhy also came in at one point and I was playing an inversion of a chord, and he said, 'Oh no, I don't think it should be that inversion, it should be this', and so we changed it to that, but by the time Albhy had come in, the song was sort of there.[

And oh how smooth it is. I don't think the Bee Gees are usually bandied about as yacht rock (maybe because they're not American?) but this disco-period balladry side of them really seems to fit imo: the glassy eyed cooing, the gentle fender rhodes arpeggios, the strings and synths melting together in the background, the restrained patter of the drums. Harmonies on this are also killer although I have a hard time hearing who's doing what, my guess is that's Robin on the higher harmony. Love this song, even if it used as the backdrop for one of the dumbest scenes in the film.

Οὖτις, Thursday, 12 September 2019 15:30 (five days ago) link

love that description of the songwriting process.

for a band whose lyrics, even at this point, could be, to be charitable about it, strange, this is a drop-dead gorgeous love lyric:

'cause we're living in a world of fools
breaking us down
when they all should let us be
we belong to you and me

the fadeout, on that exact part in a final reprise of the chorus, seems weirdly early.

fact checking cuz, Thursday, 12 September 2019 16:49 (five days ago) link

I love this song. Might be my personal favorite from the disco era.

DJI, Thursday, 12 September 2019 17:30 (five days ago) link

I was waiting for this one. I finished my PhD in 2000 and had to print and assemble temp copies for marking the night before I was going away, which I finished at 2am. I had the SNF soundtrack in the CD player of my Alfa 33 and when I hit the road to drive home, the six lane highway was wisped in fog and I was the only car on the road for the entire trip. As this song played I kind of left this earth for an astral plane for a minute. Untouchable.

an incoherent crustacean (MatthewK), Thursday, 12 September 2019 20:37 (five days ago) link

Classic winding melody from Barry. Chord chart for days. Not until the chorus is finished do you even hear one musical phrase repeated. The arrangement practically glows. All around simply stunning.

vmajestic, Thursday, 12 September 2019 20:47 (five days ago) link

I think we've officially arrived at peak Bee Gees.

enochroot, Friday, 13 September 2019 00:03 (four days ago) link

Track No. 153: Night Fever ("Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack, 1976)

For a song with "fever" in the title, this is considerably less feverish than some of their other dancefloor jams to my ears. It's propulsive, but the vocal melodies are drifting and ethereal. Maybe that's due to Barry reigning in the falsetto a little bit, alternating between the breathier verse and chorus parts and the more full-throated pre-choruses. Instrumentally, this is all about those syncopated guitar parts that dominate the arrangement; there's even some distorted power chords in the pre-chorus in the back of the mix. As for the rest: once you hear that Stayin' Alive drum loop you kind of can't unhear it, but it sure works. The strings and Blue Weaver's electric piano parts get in some nice, understated counterpoint melodies. Speaking of which:

...'Night Fever' started off because Barry walked in one morning when I was trying to work out something. I always wanted to do a disco version of Theme from A Summer Place by the Percy Faith Orchestra or something - it was a big hit in the Sixties. I was playing that, and Barry said, 'What was that?' and I said, 'Theme from A Summer Place', and Barry said, 'No, it wasn't'. It was new. Barry heard the idea - I was playing it on a string synthesizer and sang the riff over it.

Οὖτις, Monday, 16 September 2019 17:28 (yesterday) link

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