12 January 2009

The Record

The Record is well THE Record!
by Kristin Battestella

Although it hails no major surprises in its lineup, 2001’s The Record may be the ultimate Bee Gees compilation set. I purchased the double cassette shortly after its release-I’m old fashioned and hadn’t made the jump to admitting I wanted a Bee Gees CD. My sister and I cracked it open on the way home, and The Record remained a car staple until I got my own vehicle-with a CD player.

The cover from Universal has a slightly rushed feel. No major details and a few pics of the boys through the years. I suspect not much thought went into the presentation, but I’m sure it was easy to pick a starting point. First’s New York Mining Disaster 1941 is ideal to start Barry, Robin, and Maurice’s history. This melancholy tale still rings true 40 years after it topped the British charts. 3 voices, a beat, and superb story will surpass today’s bubble gum pop any day.

Naturally, To Love Somebody should be here as another staple in the Brother‘s songwriting belt. Kid bands today are still trying to capture the magic of this song-penned by the Boys for the ill fated Otis Redding. Who knew?
Holiday is an excellent song on its own, but I always feel like it gets the shaft on compilations. Competition before and after might make this somber tale a skipper, but listen again folks. Sheer poetry.

Massachusetts is darling. You can’t help but listen more and more to the sweet melody or Robin’s easy voice. Also from Horizontal, by contrast World showcases the boys quiet psychedelic rage. Initially, I thought World was rather obscure sounding, but it has to be popular now. These sounds are back in style and World also made it to Number Ones.
Who last tried to cover Words? Barry’s sweet tune has often been attempted, but the original is tops. Even Robin took a stab at this one Live.

I don’t think I can ever say enough about I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You! My first favorite Bee Gees song. Although The Record shaves a few seconds off each tune here and there, any rendition of Message is essential for introducing the Gibber in training.
Mysterious I Started A Joke follows Message in pure melancholy Robin fashion. Do you think he will ever tell us what this song is really about? Nobody knows its meaning yet all can relate. Excellent.

Saved By The Bell and Cucumber Castle’s Don’t Forget To Remember make their obligatory appearances here representing the Brothers late sixties split. Both are slightly inferior when considered in the set and very dated compared to the timeless tunes before and after. They were however hits in their own right. Saved By The Bell and Don’t Forget To Remember mark unique individual histories for Barry, Robin, and Maurice.
Lonely Days closes Side A in perfect fashion. You start off slow, then rock at the end. It is slightly symbolic of the Gibby changes to come and still a foot tapper.

B starts us off slow with the quintessential How Can You Mend A Broken Heart from the non-quintessential Trafalgar album. Can we all just do one collective happy sigh? Run To Me completes that oh so sweet Gibby sound with its impeccable chorus. Oh yes, I said impeccable again.

My dislike of Jive Talkin is quite irksome here because ! have to judge the old fast forward button. Too far and I’m into the next song, then the rewind takes me back to the Mr. Shrill Jive. Can I think of a song of similar time and stature to replace it? No.

I much prefer Nights On Broadway when choosing a song to represent the changed Barry, Robin, and Maurice. Pouty lyrics, kick ass music, and the discovered falsetto accenting the chorus-what could be better?
Also hailing from Main Course, Fanny Be Tender With My Love showcases the Brothers’ over the top harmony in ways no other song can. It’s tight and refined tighter each turnaround, yet it’s lofty and chorale-and you can hear every brother.

Love So Right has grown on me in recent listenings. Lyrics and softness from Barry oh yes, but I never paid much attention to the music. Indeed there are many layers here to analyze and enjoy.
Made famous by the Yvonne Elliman version, Barry, Robin, and Maurice present their recording of If I Can’t Have You here. Although it was also on Greatest, this was my first introduction to the song. Sometimes it’s weird because we are so used to Yvonne, but all be dang the boys sound like women as well.

My mastery of fast forward and rewind stems from my love for Love Me. My mother loathes this Children of The World staple not just for its melancholy feel, but also from my rewind.stop.play.fast forward.stop.play.rewind. Yes I would torture my parents just to hear a Bee Gees song.
Closing the cassette is fellow World alum You Should Be Dancing. This powerhouse highlights the full throttle the boys were about it embark on. Oh baby.

Cassette Two, Side C brings us to the heyday. The night I got The Record, my sister picked this side to start with, and of course she sang Staying Alive. Her rendition does make me appreciate the original just a bit more.
Of course, I learned to time the cassette so I could turn it over and catch How Deep Is Your Love instead. Excellent. Most excellent, Ted.

At first I was a little gun shy of Night Fever. All that disco stigma you know. With my Record cassette, however, I was able to turn it up and boogie. Shh. It really isn’t disco you know. Listen again and reminisce here with one of Barry, Robin, and Maurice’s quintessential tunes.
Ignore More Than A Woman for it’s Fever aspects and place in music and film history. Just focus on the song. It really is a piece of music genius. The lyrics and harmony are timed to perfection, and the beat is still swinging today. Marvelous.

Although Emotion dates back to the heyday with the Samantha Sang hit, this recording is an update from the boys exclusively for The Record. More rerecords follow, but Emotion is perhaps the most complete tune of them. I’m sure Maurice is there, and Barry and Robin both sound solid. The transition from a female song to male voices is perfection.

Feel good stalwart Too Much Heaven starts the Spirits whirlwind. If you haven’t heard this tune yet, go back to Mars. Tragedy is also simply a must hear. Seeing Maurice talk about Tragedy on the Keppel Road video only partly explains all the treats in this song.
Even in a compilation as big as The Record, Love You Inside Out still tops the Naughty list. Inside Out expertly captures the good and bad of the swinging lifestyle in words, music, and mood.

Guilty showcases Barry’s Grammy winning work with Barbra. Although it’s not The Bee Gees, Guilty is an important staple in the songwriting catalogue of the boys. Indeed it is a must in any history of The Brothers Gibb.
For me anyway, Heartbreaker has always been slightly lesser known. Dionne’s version is just fine, but it is a treat to hear a Gibb version in its entirety. Barry’s version here is not perfect-it seems to be just him in fact-but I love the lyrics and swaying beats. I’m so glad that this version also appears on the Love Songs CD.

Side D begins the modern day period for The Brothers-as in songs released in my lifetime 80). I dare say this side is my favorite, no maybe B. Can you choose?
We have a few Barry dominated updates, so why not one for Robin? Made famous by Kenny and Dolly’s country smash, Robin returns Islands In The Stream to its origins and gives it an R and B feel. A verse from the remake Getto Superstar is also included. Sweetness- if only to hear a Middle aged British white man say Ghetto Superstar.

You Win Again returned the Boys to the music forefront and was a chart topper no less. A lot of important people cite this one as their favorite, including Robin’s wife Dwina.
Less later day hits are included on The Record, but all the biggies are here. One represents the album of the same name, and the eighties monster hasn’t dated itself yet. Barry’s easy delivery and the band’s cool rhythm still get me dancing.

Secret Love brings the foot tapping into the nineties. It take listening to like High Civilization, but indeed Secret Love is the best song from that album, and it deserves a spot on The Record.
For Whom The Bell Tolls is edited slightly, but I’m glad the Size Isn’t Everything ballad represents here. Barry and Robin continue to volley back and forth, and their vocal time on The Record almost evens out when you think about it-and I’m sure they did. Tolls fits both brothers perfectly. I think it could be released today and still be a hit.

If ever I had a song to rival I’ve Gotta Get A Message to You, it might be Alone. The Still Waters standout is one of the best later day Bee Gees songs-if not the best one of the nineties.
I like Immortality, and if you’re getting a piece of the boys ‘songwriting for others’ catalogue, then it fits right in here. Barry’s demo however, is a tad too shrill. Again the jacket is lacking lyrics, so you’ll have to look them up online, but the boy’s poetic feel on Immortality is near perfection. Of course none of us are immortal, but love and music are.

This Is Where I Came In represents the final single by all three brothers. At the time of course we had no way of knowing, but with its smooth lyrics and expert guitar rhythms from Mo, This Is Where I Came in takes on special meaning. For any old school fan, this peak from the album of the same name is a must.
The Record closes by coming full circle. Spics and Specks ends the album in perfect Australian diddy fashion. Specks is still strong today, and that one dang note hasn’t changed in forty years. I’m not sure why they chose to end with the boys first Aussie number one, but it’s a nice touch.

Although I must protest at the lack of a Maurice lead, The Record is a set of Gibb standards, not the rare or obscure. More extensive and complete than Number Ones, yet less inclusive than Tales From The Brothers Gibb, The Record is essential for any Bee Gee quick fix.

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