The other night while flipping through channels I came upon a Biography Channel biography of The Bee Gees, that iconic British group famous for their classic pop melodies, quivering harmonies, tender ballads, and smooth disco. Perhaps it’s because of their relative “lightness” when compared to, say, “serious” bands like the Beatles, Stones, Zeppelin, etc., I’m not sure they’ve ever gotten their true due, but they’re one of the largest-selling acts in rock history (only Elvis, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney have outsold them to date).
While I hadn’t seriously listened to any of their music except for whatever might have come across the radio or supermarket speakers in recent years, hearing their story told with all of those great songs reminded me just how good these guys were. Without question they’d have a firm place in The Great White Shank’s top ten of all-time great bands. With that in mind, here are ten of my favorite Bee Gees tunes; if you have others feel free to chime in:
10. “Lonely Days” (1970). Not much of a tune, actually – at least compared to others in their catalog – but I always liked it.
9. “How Deep Is Your Love?” (1977). Another cut from “Saturday Night Fever”, perfect for slow dancing on the disco floor with that chick you hoped you could end up taking home, but never did.
8. “You Win Again” (1987). A great example of how the band could still churn out solid pop nearly twenty years after they broke upon the pop scene. A modern take on their classic ability to combine melody and great harmonies.
7. “Stayin’ Alive” (1977). I mean, how can any Bee Gees list not have this one from “Saturday Night Fever”?
6. “I’ve Just Got To Get A Message To You” (1968). I’ve always liked the beat of this song and its odd combination of lyric (about a man condemned to die) and jaunty arrangement.
5. “You Should Be Dancing” (1976). Hard-pounding disco and a monster hit that was played in and danced to in every club that year.
4. “Words” (1968). Love the piano throughout, the almost tentative start and the dramatic low notes. I equate this song with my “coming out” year of not just hearing music, but, thanks to The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”, listening to it for the first time.
3. “Run To Me” (1972). The last of the “old style” Bee Gees releases, a lovely ballad with great harmonies. When they would return nearly three years later, they’d sound like a different band.
2. “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?” (1971). Whenever I hear this song it brings me back to our last family vacation in 1971, driving to Niagrara Falls and Fort Ticonderoga and hearing my Mom singing the harmony in the chorus. Mom could always pick out the good harmonies!
1. “Nights On Broadway” (1975) – I remember when this came out, thinking how much of a departure it was from their traditional sound. A great rocker and the first sign they had exhanged one genre for another while still keeping intact their classic sound.