From mushy pop ballads through late-Sixties psychedelia and low-key rock, the Bee Gees have demonstrated a chameleonlike ability to adapt to disparate pop trends. These days, as they said on the Tonight Show in their best Cockney accents, “Rhythm & blues is what’s happening.” Audacious, right? Well, not exactly. Some of their stuff is really good, better than poseurs like Wild Cherry, AWB and Kokomo.
The Bee Gees have taken production into their own hands with Children of the World, and at the very least have come up with one of the year’s killer singles. While KC and the Sunshine Band provided the obvious inspiration for the group’s smash, in this case the Bee Gees have beaten the leading disco ensemble at their own game: “You Should Be Dancing” rocks KC’s “Shake Your Booty” right off the turntable (or dance floor) in head-to-head competition. It’s an impossibly propulsive track, whose only rival in the genre is KC’s “Get Down Tonight.”
The rush of inspiration and energy that “You Should Be Dancing” seems to have required of the Bee Gees has left most of the rest of the album listing aimlessly. “Love So Right” is a frothy pop ballad modeled closely after their own “Fanny,” and the current record’s only saving grace is a whiny soul falsetto, somewhere between Tony Washington of the Dynamic Superiors and the Stylistics’ Russell Tompkins. “Lovers” and “You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” jog along with the proper accouterments of current pop-soul: Hall and Oates vocals, well-heeled hook lines and bumpy, mid-tempo arrangements. For fans of “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” there’s always “The Way It Was” and “Love Me.”
The overwhelming success and acceptance (by blacks and whites) of white bands working in black idioms must have some underlying social significance. Don’t ask me what it is. I just dance to the music.