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[Off The Record]
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The Bee Gees

The Australian brothers Gibb got to enjoy two distinct mega-careers, and this superb two-disc collection selects unerringly from both eras. On the front end, there’s the moodiest Sgt. Pepperisms of the late ’60s. As shamelessly vapid as the Lemon Pipers, Barry, Maurice, and Robin nevertheless knew that gloomy posturing could lead to making out, and with "I Started a Joke," "New York Mining Disaster 1941," and, especially, "Holiday," they traced that line better than anyone at the time. For the next platinum-plated phase, "Stayin’ Alive" and "Night Fever" translated the bubbling-up disco sound and culture for the masses, and the intoxicating "You Should Be Dancing" served as a blanket response to their critics.

More than the mechanized falsetto harmonies, what links the two eras is the brilliant songwriting, which fetishized the process with a preponderance of pre-choruses, verse bridges, and tag lines. Unfortunately, the story ends in 1979 even though the disc doesn’t — several tracks from their lost ’80s period sink the latter part of disc two in adult-contemporary banality. But the recent homages from Destiny’s Child and the great M2M have ensured their persistence in pop consciousness. So maybe they’ll return in another worthwhile guise.


Issue Date: December 27, 2001 - January 3, 2001

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