The Good: Wonderful music, Excellent voices, Great lyrics, Duration!
The Bad: One or two weak tracks with inferior lyrics, Barbra Streisand duet
The Basics: An excellent album displaying the lyrics and voice of the Bee Gees, Their Greatest Hits – The Record is a MUST for any fan of the Bee Gees or truly great, enduring music.
The Bee Gees are the band who either defined the music of the 70s, or adapted perfectly to suit it, depending on who you consult. Listening to The Bee Gees Their Greatest Hits The Record, it becomes clear that the band is possibly the ultimate chameleon band. This two c.d. album takes the band from their roots as a Simon and Garfunkel-esque vocal trio to the heavy 70s synth and falsetto sound to the 80s pop sound to our current pop-rock sound.
And it's a wonderful journey.
Opening with the Bee Gees' first major hit, "New York Mining Disaster 1941," the album captures all of the great songs the Bee Gees have had. So, in addition to capturing well the styles of different eras in music and in history, the Bee Gees create a standard for themselves different from their previous "Best of" albums. This album truly has their greatest hits, without much else.
The strength of the album is that it uses hits written by the Bee Gees as covers as well. So for the first time, there are studio recordings of Bee Gees songs "Islands In the Stream" (with lyrics from "Ghetto Supastar" included!), "Heartbreaker, "Immortality," and a version of "Guilty" that has both Barbara Streisand and Barry Gibb. The album is arranged well, using original recordings, not new versions of old songs, not alternate versions, not live versions. Basically, this album is ideal for people who like or love the Bee Gees songs that they've heard and don't want to be bogged down with material they don't know.
I love the duration. This two c.d. set has 71 and 76 minutes of music! It's wonderful to see artists using the full depth of the medium. The liner notes give a good history of the band as well as the recording history for each track.
The strength of the Bee Gees has always been in the lyrics. These men know how to write songs that say something. How rare is it today to find songs that tell stories? Very! There's no way 'New York Mining Disaster 1941" would be a hit in today's pop music clime. And that's not a slam at the Bee Gees; it's to the detriment of society that the most sellable music can't handle storytelling. The songs explore depths of real emotions. Songs like "I've Gotta Get A Message To You" and "How Deep Is Your Love" articulate longing, desire and love the likes of which are almost never found today on the radio. And just plain fun. The Bee Gees do simply, dancing fun on tracks like "You Should Be Dancing" and "Stayin' Alive." And today there could not be a successful eccentric song like "I Started a Joke;" something that is passionate but ellusive.
The success of the Bee Gees - and this album - is how they go from trendsetters to rebels. Their latest tracks continue in a tradition of great lyrics and excellent vocals, but defy what is considered marketable pop rock music. "Alone" makes an impressibe addition to the album - and the truly greatest hits of the Bee Gees - as a lament about how fate works against the singer and how they are tired of being lonely. It works so wonderfully. The actual guitars and true voices impressively displayed on the very latest track, "This Is Where I Came In" are so rare on today's radio; BB Mak is the last group that comes to mind for me to cite that has even made the attempt. The Bee Gees make thee transition from one end of the music spectrum to the other with style and class because they remain consistent in the important regards: lyric writing and music writing.
The Bee Gees are probably the best example of what a group may do when it retains creative control of its material.
The only weakness of the album comes in some of its tracks that don't maintain the standards. This is understandable, even though I'd wish it didn't happen on a Greatest Hits album. The lyrics on "First of May" don't live up. It's a sad day when a group with such sophisticated lyrics as appear in "I Started A Joke" resorts to rhyming "tall" and "small." And as for "Guilty" on the second disc, I take issue with that as I'm not a fan of Babs and I think it's not a true Bee Gee's song; it's a Barry Gibb track. Had they only used "Our Love (Don't Throw All Away)," I would have been a happy camper!
To the strength of the album and the group as a whole, I must say the two weak tracks are both sandwiched in between vastly better tracks. A strong recommendation for anyone who loves great music, especially if they're sick of the garbage on the radio today. And if you have friends who like the stuff that's on the radio but dislike the Bee Gees, be sure to let them know that "Emotion" by Destiny's Child is a Bee Gee's song. It's true and this album is the first recording they've produced of it! :)
Disc one is blown away by the strength of "I Started a Joke," the weakest link is "First of May." Disc two is ruled by "Alone" and the only detrimental track is "Guilty." Regardless, I liked the album enough to give it five stars. Usually, I reserve that solely for perfect albums with absolutely no cons. Here, the cons are so small in the magnitude of the album that they don't detract enough from it to make me skip over them or even notice them as serious detractions when I listen long enough.
For other works by The Bee Gees, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Best Of Bee Gees
Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack
One Night Only
For other music reviews, please check out my Music Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2013, 2001 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |