03 December 2008

Bee Gees Greatest

I Complete My Compilation Binge With Greatest!
by Kristin Battestella

Okay so I’ve started off 2006 with a rush of compilation reviews. My brother-in-law says some of the Bee Gees stuff I pass around is really great, and the obscure stuff I pull out my butt is a real load. However, he, like most seventies babies does agree, Greatest is a tough set to beat.

My cassette of Greatest got lost in my sister’s car, but my honey gave me an autographed record version for Christmas! It only highlights Gibb work from 75 to 79, but I have to admit, it is a major chunk of quality material.

Even though we start off with my least favorite tune, Jive Talkin, this no nonsense hit prepares you for the grooving that is to come. There seems to be little rhyme or reason to the track order. It’s not chronological to say the least, just bunches of fast or slow. Pick your Gibb!

The dance fest continues with Night Fever. This totally recognizable tune gets old fans back to the times with its whimsical lyrics and foot tapping beat. Shakin’ songs like Fever are actually back in style again.

Was Tragedy remade by some Euro kiddie group a few years ago? I don’t remember. Another heyday staple, I’ve always liked Tragedy’s progressive beats and mellow lyric combinations.

Ah, we come to the monster that is You Should Be Dancing again. Of course we think Travolta, but let’s face it. Even though Dancing’s original Children of the World album is thirty years old, this is still a good dance song. Always has been, always will be.

Begrudgingly I mention Staying Alive. Once again I heard someone in a store mention The Bee Gees and modern teens followed up with a little Ah ha ha ha. An immense stable to the Gibbs as well as a perfect time capsule of the times, but not the one and only quintessential Gibby tune its been made out to be.

Oddly enough, sometimes I feel How Deep Is Your Love doesn’t get it’s do respect, perhaps since it sounds as good today as it did way back when. Fans assume its a newer song, not a powerhouse that has stood the test of time. I’ll play this one at my wedding, if my hubby let’s me!

Another under appreciated Gibb ballad is Love So Right. Also from Children of The World, even in this small space Right showcases the boys songwriting skills before the Fever soundtrack.

The lofty scale and over the top good feelings of Too Much Heaven is tough to beat. I’ve always enjoyed Heaven for its touch of spirituality as well as its pretty balladeering.

My sister cannot tell Andy’s version of Our Love Don’t Throw It All Away apart from the Bee Gees version showcased here. For the untrained ear, it does take several listens. Barry’s easy tone is perfect and the twins’ ad-libs at the end is top notch.

I love Fanny (Be Tender With My Love) and all its parenthesized glory! The arrangement of Barry, Robin, and Maurice’s voices here are so carefully crafted down to every echo. Their skilled style still shows today.

This version of If I Can’t Have You by the boys can also be found on the flip side of the Stayin Alive 45. This monster was initially released by Yvonne Elliman for the Fever Soundtrack, but the Brothers recording found its way here. It might not be as sing-a-long-able with Barry, Robin, and Maurice, but it is still catchy, considering it’s essentially three British men screaming about love.

Some songs from Children of the World deserve a place on Greatest more than others. You Stepped Into My Life isn’t a bad song, but when compared to more timeless Gibb tunes before and after, today it can seem like a skipper. Barry’s shrills might be too shrill, but if you read the lyrics to this one it is a pretty little poem.

Love Me’s croaking lovelorn lyrics are expertly handled by Robin, and I’m glad to see this track receive its due here. Not the lone crying song here, but perhaps the most depressing, and that’s ok.

Although You Should Be Dancing’s dance routines are now more famous, Gibb fans of old will remember how much More Than a Woman effected the world. Everyone was going to dance studios and trying to learn the cha cha because of this suave Gibb tune’s dance-ability. My sister included!

In contrast, Barry’s country track Rest Your Love on Me is a little know gem that somehow made its way onto Greatest. The duet version by Andy Gibb and Olivia Newton-John is slightly inferior to Barry’s rendition, even if his country sweets seem out of place here. A very tight and pleasant breather.

Nights On Broadway takes its rightful place here beside all the other Bee Gee monsters. If it weren’t for the discovery of falsetto on this Main Course hit imagine how different The Bee Gees would have been. How different you or I would be!

I have such a love hate relationship with Spirits (Having Flown). Parts of the song can be downright silly, but other parts are magnificently structured tropical gems. Put on your Hawaiian shirts for this one.

Also from the Spirits album, Love You Inside Out fills the kinky slot here. Even if the boys made an album of all their naughty songs, Love You Inside Out’s lyrics and history would be tough to beat. A feel good keeper.

Even in the 75 to 79 range, there might be one or two songs that deserve a spot here more so than Wind of Change, but the few I can think of have all also become slightly dated. Change’s big statement for the Main Course album might have become less powerful in the subsequent decades, but it is still a nice shrill song for you to attempt to sing, groove, and get down with. Who is with me?!

Of all the tunes to end Greatest, Children of the World is not the one I would pick. Once you get into the song it’s not bad, but the opening ooos and ahhhs are a bit dated....okay very dated. Once you get over the chuckles, however, the lyrics are quite nice. If we could take out all the sex and drugs, that little bit of seventies peace and love would be nice for today, don’t you think?

Although some tunes presented on Greatest may not have stood the test of time, this album is essential for hey day Gibb fans both young and old. I highly recommend this one to accompany you in the car, but be prepared to make copies for your disco friends!



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