Is it possible that we live in a country that can forgive Richard Nixon but not his fellow Seventies superstars the Bee Gees? Unlike Dick, after all, the Bee Gees never actually did anything wrong. Most Bee Gee-bashing is based on the fact that the trio has been forever linked with disco — that most undeservedly dreaded of genres — and this has somehow obscured another fact: that the Bee Gees are one of the great pop bands of all time.
For more than twenty years, Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb have created timely pop music of transcendent beauty — not every time out, mind you, but with a consistency that’s still remarkable. The Bee Gees’ early records — though occasionally marred by a tendency to slip into the saccharine — were moving pieces of Beatles-influenced pop that gained immeasurably from the trio’s breathtaking, brotherly harmonies and infallible taste for elegant hooks. And by the time of their mid-Seventies Saturday Night Fever-fueled resurrection, the Bee Gees were able to merge successfully their pop strengths with a new-found flair for funk and R&B that drove the world to the dance floor.
One — even more than the underrated 1987 album E.S.P. — finds the brothers back at the top of their game, meshing the sounds of both of their past hitmaking eras into an impressive album that still feels quite contemporary. (If you think the Bee Gees’ influence doesn’t persist, listen one more time to your George Michael and Fine Young Cannibals records.) The title track, which is the first single from the album, is polished pop soul that effortlessly combines sonic bite and rhythmic seduction.
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Though songs like “Ordinary Lives” and “Will You Ever Let Me?” may be little more than expertly crafted vehicles that highlight the brothers’ harmonies, songs like “Wish You Were Here” (a moving tribute to the late Andy Gibb) and the erotically charged “House of Shame” show that they still have a way with a hook. And the crack rhythm section of drummer Steve Ferone and bassist Nathan East helps keep things soulful and tough. Give One a chance — it ain’t no party, it ain’t no disco, it ain’t no fooling around.