The Bee Gees were a pop music group formed in 1958. Their line-up consisted of brothers Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb. The trio were successful for most of their decades of recording music, but they had two distinct periods of exceptional success; as a popular music act in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and as prominent performers of the disco music era in the late 1970s. The group sang recognisable three-part tight harmonies; Robin’s clear vibrato lead vocals were a hallmark of their earlier hits, while Barry’s R&B falsetto became their signature sound during the late 1970s and 1980s. The Bee Gees wrote all of their own hits, as well as writing and producing several major hits for other artists.
Artist: Bee Gees
Label: Warner Bros. Records
E.S.P. is the Bee Gees‘ seventeenth original album (fifteenth worldwide). Released in 1987, it was the band’s first studio album in six years, and their first release under their new contract with Warner Bros. It marked the first time in twelve years the band had worked with producer Arif Mardin, and was their first album to be recorded digitally. Warner Bros. You can tell they haven’t stopped listening to the radio or keeping up with new releases. Most of the songs sport contemporary, techno-style arrangements that rely heavily on synthesizer and drum machines.
A few songs even recall specific artists and/or their hits. “Backtafunk” is a light, keyboard-centered funk piece along the lines of David Bowie’s “Modern Love”; “The Longest Night” has the supple rhythms and layered harmonies of a Fleetwood Mac ballad, and “Crazy for Your Love” is a rollicking pop piece that suggests Kenny Loggins.
The Bee Gees have long been pop chameleons, soaking up the music around them and creating their own approximations. They borrowed from the Beatles for such early hits as “Lonely Days,” drew on R&B influences for the blue-eyed soul smash “Jive-Talkin’ ” and tapped into the then-burgeoning disco scene for such hits as “You Should Be Dancing.”
Most pop artists draw inspiration from the music that has come before. The Bee Gees just do it more than most. They even borrow from themselves. “Live or Die (Hold Me Like a Child)” features the distinctive three-part harmonies of the trio’s early hits. “Overnight” is a seamless pop/rocker that would have fit snugly into 1979’s “Spirits Having Flown” album.
One of the new songs pays homage to the oldies. The light funk piece “This Is Your Life” has a witty rap that includes titles or musical hooks from more than a dozen of the Bee Gees’ past hits. It’s a clever gimmick, but also a risky one: Recounting the group’s greatest glories ultimately points out the comparative weakness of the new material. The album’s big ballad, “Angela,” is pretty, but thin. It doesn’t hold a candle to the gorgeous “How Deep Is Your Love” and “Too Much Heaven,” which are saluted in the rap. With help from top producer Arif Mardin, the Bee Gees have done a good job of keeping their sound contemporary.
1. E.S.P. (5:35)
2. You Win Again (4:01)
3. Live or Die (Hold Me Like a Child) (4:42)
4. Giving up the Ghost (4:26)
5. The Longest Night (5:47)
1. This is Your Life (4:53)
2. Angela (4:56)
3. Overnight (4:21)
4. Crazy for Your Love (4:43)
5. Backtafunk (4:23)
6. E.S.P.” (Vocal Reprise (0:30)
The Bee Gees were a pop music group formed in 1958. Their line-up consisted of brothers Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb. The trio were successful for most of their decades of recording music, but they had two distinct periods of exceptional success; as a popular music act in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and as prominent performers of the disco music era in the late 1970s. The group sang recognisable three-part tight harmonies.
Artist: Bee Gees
Title: Main Course
Label: RSO Records
Main Course, released in 1975 for the RSO label, is the 13th album by the Bee Gees, and their last album to be released by Atlantic Records in the US under its distribution deal with Robert Stigwood. This album marked a change for the Bee Gees as it was their first album to include disco influenced songs, and it created the model for their output through the rest of the 1970s. It was the group’s thirteenth album (eleventh worldwide). Main Course was the first album to feature keyboardist Blue Weaver. The album cover with the band’s new logo designed by US artist Drew Struzan made its first appearance here.
The group’s earlier LPs, steeped in a dense romantic balladry, were beautifully crafted but too serious for any but hardcore fans. Main Course had a few ballads, such as “Songbird” and “Country Lanes,” but the writing was simpler, and the rest of it was made up of catchy dance tunes (heavily influenced by the Philadelphia-based soul music of the period), in which the beat and the texture of the voices and instruments took precedence over the words. The combination proved irresistible, and Main Course — driven by the singles “Jive Talkin’,” “Nights on Broadway,” and “Fanny (Be Tender With My Love)” — attracted millions of new listeners. It also repelled fans of the group’s earlier style, which was a bit ironic. The disco numbers on Main Course displayed the same care and craftsmanship that had characterized, say, “First of May” or “Odessa.” Barry Gibb‘s falsetto voice, introduced on this album, was startling at first, and became an object of ridicule in later years, but the slow break on “Nights on Broadway” and songs like “Fanny (Be Tender With My Love)” and “Baby As You Turn Away” were as exquisitely sung as “Lonely Days” or “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,” and they had the same sense of romantic drama, leavened by a layer of sheer fun; one had less of a sense that the singer was dealing with the love of a lifetime, so much as a conquest for the evening, which was in keeping with the sexual mores of the mid-’70s. And the spirit of fun was no accident — producer Arif Mardin, seeking to rescue the group’s stagnating career, had gotten the Bee Gees to turn their talents in a musical direction that they’d always loved but never embraced. Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb had been fascinated by R&B and soul for years (“To Love Somebody” had been written for Otis Redding to sing), but, as white Britons — fearing they’d seem ridiculous — they had never adapted those sounds themselves. Not only didn’t they seem ridiculous, but they took to it as easily as they’d absorbed the Beatles‘ harmony-based rock sounds in the late ’60s. It was a liberating experience for the entire group — Blue Weaver, newly added to the lineup with an array of electronic keyboards and ideas that ended up shaping lots of the songs here; Alan Kendall, playing in a funky guitar style; and drummer Dennis Byron, playing more complicated patterns than he’d been asked to in years, were also delighted with the new direction, and they constituted the instrumental core of the band for the next six years. Years later, Main Course holds up as well as anything the group ever did, and with killer album cuts like “Wind of Change” (featuring a superb Joe Farrell tenor sax solo) and “Edge of the Universe” all over it, demands as much attention as any hits compilation by the group.
1. Nights on Broadway (4:32)
2. Jive Talkin’ (3:43)
3. Wind of Change (4:54)
4. Songbird (3:35)
5. Fanny (Be Tender with My Love) (4:02)
1. All This Making Love (3:03)
2. Country Lanes (3:29)
3. Come on Over (3:26)
4. Edge of the Universe (5:21)
5. Baby as You Turn Away (4:23)