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Best of Bee Gees ()

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If anyone needs conclusive proof that the brothers Gibb weren't always the chest-medallion-flashing kings of mainstream disco or, since about 1980 on, meaningless AOR washouts, the nearly 40-minute collection of the Bee Gees' earliest hits will suffice in spades. At their (perhaps, in hindsight) surprising best, the threesome, along with capable if generally unremarkable rhythm section members Melouney and Colin Peterson, created a slew of tender, affecting, and quite lovely hits. While the Stones/proto-metal crowd of the time probably thought them unbearably wimpy, their songwriting acumen, combined with their harmonies, fine production by Robert Stigwood, and ace orchestral/band arrangements by Bill Shephard, holds up astonishingly well. For all that the band clearly was often following the lead of the more elaborate Beatles songs of the same time -- consider the watery piano line opening "Words" as one example of many -- the Bee Gees didn't so much ape as they did come up with their own flavor. Considering that everyone from Catherine ("Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You") and Jimmy Somerville ("To Love Somebody") to Low ("I Started a Joke") and Jose Feliciano ("I've Gotta Get a Message to You") has covered something from this collection is testimony to the songs' continuing influence. Other times the connections to the future are subtler but still present -- "I Can't See Nobody," sonically and lyrically, has the same deep blue/string-backed feeling as Verve's "History." Sometimes the line between emotion and deep schmaltz is pretty fine, admittedly. However, when Robin's lead vocal on "I Started a Joke" hits the high notes while his brothers add soft backup as the music swells, it's just one example of many why the Bee Gees deserved their long overdue induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. ~ Ned Raggett, Rovi Hide synopsis

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