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Bee Gees

    Bee Gees 1st (Atco, 1967)
   Horizontal (Atco, 1968)
   Idea (Atco, 1968)
    Odessa (Atco, 1969)
    Best of Bee Gees (Atco, 1969)
   Cucumber Castle (Atco, 1970)
    Trafalgar (Atco, 1971)
   2 Years On (Atco, 1971)
   To Whom It May Concern (Atco, 1972)
   Best of the Bee Gees, Vol. 2 (R.S.O., 1973)
   Life in a Tin Can (R.S.O., 1973)
   Mr. Natural (R.S.O., 1974)
     Main Course (R.S.O., 1975)
    Children of the World (R.S.O., 1976)
     Bee Gees Gold, Vol. 1 (RSO, 1976)
    Here at Last….Bee Gees…Live (R.S.O., 1977)
     Greatest (R.S.O., 1979)
    Spirits Having Flown (R.S.O., 1979)
    Living Eyes (R.S.O., 1981)
   E.S.P. (Warner Bros., 1987)
   One (Warner Bros., 1989)
     Tales from the Brothers Gibb: A History in Song, 1967–1990 (Polydor, 1990)
   High Civilization (Warner Bros., 1991)
   Size Isn't Everything (Polydor, 1993)
   Still Waters (Polydor, 1997)
    Live One Night Only (Polydor, 1998)
   Tomorrow the World (Magnum, 1999)
     This Is Where I Came In (Universal, 2001)
     Their Greatest Hits: The Record (Polydor, 2001)
     Legendary Gold: Original Classics (Galaxm, 2007)

Nothing if not professional, the Aussie Brothers Gibb — leader Barry and twin followers Maurice and Robin — enjoyed two mega-careers playing two sorts of music: lush, Beatlesque pop and high-gloss disco. Milking the pop sensibility that prizes gesture over authenticity, they made remarkable Sixties jukebox love songs, their trademark warbling conveying genuine passion about as accurately as Hollywood kisses capture the mess and tangle of real love. The trick, however, to "Holiday," "Words," "I Started a Joke," and "To Love Somebody" was that the Bee Gees understood their teenage make-out audience. So what if the lyrics didn't make sense?

After Odessa, the Sgt. Pepper's copy that all Sixties headliners felt driven to attempt (the Bee Gees' wasn't bad), the Bee Gees faded, resurfacing occasionally with such ace radio balladry as "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?" They returned in the Seventies with brilliant, plastic R&B. Pumped by finger-popping bass and swishing high-hat cymbals, Main Course, Spirits Having Flown, and, most spectacularly, their contributions to Saturday Night Fever didn't create disco but mainstreamed it with stunning craft. They had gigantic hits, of course. A third bid at stardom seemed to risk the ire of even the most indulgent of gods. The Eighties Bee Gees appeared tentative and flailing.

Still, they persevered. Driven by the irresistible single "You Win Again," 1987's E.S.P. was a huge international hit (stateside listeners remained unconvinced). One fared even better. High Civilization, Size Isn't Everything, and Still Waters found them in a holding pattern, although the brothers' 1997 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame sparked a revival of interest.

The Bee Gees ended the Nineties with a fairly urgent live album, One Night Only, and entered the new century with This Is Where I Came In. It wasn't exactly their third coming, but it was one of their strongest albums in years, smartly mixing the AOR-funk of their latter years with melodic pop that echoed their early glory days. The Bee Gees continued to tour occasionally until January 2003, when Maurice Gibb died of cardiac arrest while receiving treatment for an intestinal blockage. Robin and Barry declared that the Bee Gees were finished.

Most Bee Gees newcomers will be interested in their slew of hits, which has been collected most completely on Their Greatest Hits: The Record and Tales from the Brothers Gibb, a four-disc collection that's a little heavy on filler material. Legendary Gold: Original Classics collects woodshedding material from the early and middle Sixties, when the Bee Gees were signed to Festival Records.

Portions of this album guide appeared in The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (Fireside, 2004).

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