In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, I was a fan of the Bee Gees’ hits that I’d hear on AM radio. I was particularly infatuated with ‘How Can You Mend A Broken Heart,” “I Started A Joke,” “Run To Me” and a few other gems. But since I was still a kid and the internet was still a few decades away, I knew nothing about them apart from the fact that there were three brothers – Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb – and I thought one of them had a funny voice (which turned out to be Robin, btw). But hey, I was six or seven years old and found pretty much everything funny. As I grew older, that ‘funny’ voice moved me in so many ways – I began to hear the heartache and sorrow in every word. But I digress… Anyway, imagine my surprise when I first heard “Jive Talkin’” in 1975 and found out it was the same band! And then I heard “Nights On Broadway,” and loved it even more. But towards the end of ’75, I heard the song “Fanny (Be Tender With My Love)” and I knew I had to own the Main Course album. After saving a few allowances (I was 12 at the time), I bought the album and fell in love with every song. The songs were just as wonderfully melodic as their early tunes but were definitely more soulful and ‘modern’ (i.e.: Disco). But since I loved a lot of the Disco hits on the radio (“Rock Your Baby” was a big fave at the time), I was good with what I heard. It was always the melody that drew me in anyway and Main Course has so many great songs, it makes me feel guilty to say that “Fanny” remains my ultimate favorite song on the album because EVERY one of the songs has been my favorite at one point over the years!
So, why am I babbling on about the Bee Gees? Well, the five CD box set Bee Gees: 1974-1979 has arrived and it is one hell of a musical joyride. This set contains the four albums the trio released in that span of time PLUS a fifth disc –titled The Miami Years – which gathers their songs from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack plus a few extras. The centerpiece for me is Main Course (my favorite Bee Gees album) but the other four discs are definitely worth your time.
1974’s Mr. Natural is a luscious slice of musical melancholy and acts as the perfect ‘bridge’ between their older material and the direction they took on Main Course. (Note: one of the tracks on the bonus disc, “It Doesn’t Matter Much To Me,” was originally a b-side from this era and is a fucking heartbreaker along the lines of “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart.”).
Main Course and Barry’s falsetto came next but I’ve already drooled over this album (see first paragraph) so we’ll move on to the next one…
The Children Of The World album from ’76 has some amazing hook-filled pop and dance tunes, but it also has the atrocious “You Should Be Dancing,” one of the few Bee Gees songs that turns me into a cantankerous psychopath when I hear it. OK, so maybe it is only the chorus that pisses me off, but I can’t listen to the rest of the song without hearing the chorus so off with its head! “Boogie Child” isn’t much better, by the way. Thankfully, “Love So Right,” “You Stepped Into My Life” and many other great songs are here to balance out the bitter taste of those two less-than-stellar tracks.
Spirits Having Flown was their post-Saturday Night Fever album and it contains some fantastic stuff (“Tragedy,” “Too Much Heaven,” ‘I’m Satisfied,” and more). The trio’s transformation to ‘60s hit makers to ‘70s mega superstars was complete with this album. The brothers Gibb were masters at the Pop music game… but then they always were. The only misstep on the album is ‘Search, Find,” which doesn’t float my boat. At all.
The previously mentioned Miami Years CD is chock full of hits from Saturday Night Fever, a few original Bee Gees versions of tracks that were hits for others and some rare b-sides. All top notch classics that you can cuddle with at night. “Night Fever,” “Staying Alive”, etc.
Peace, Love and Barry Gibb,