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Barry Gibb: 13 Essential Tracks

Beyond the dance floor: hear the best songs from the Bee Gee’s discography

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As a songwriter, singer and all-around rainmaker, Barry Gibb has left his fingerprints on every style of pop music. Has any other songwriter gotten their tunes turned into hits by Ol' Dirty Bastard, Barbra Streisand and Beyoncé? Doubt it. So here's a baker's dozen of the man's greatest musical moments. By Rob Sheffield

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Bee Gees, “New York Mining Disaster 1941” (1966)

The Bee Gees' breakthrough hit defined their early style of over-the-top ballads, with Barry and Robin locking their voices in two-part agony. This song invented the template for David Bowie's early career – his classic "Space Oddity" was basically a Bee Gees tribute. Fun fact: there was no New York mining disaster in 1941.

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Bee Gees, “Born a Man” (1967)

You don't normally think of Barry as a blues man, but this oddity makes it seem like he spent a weekend studying his Stones records and decided to turn into Mick Jagger – his most rocking moment.

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Bee Gees, “World” (1968)

Not a hit in the U.S, but prized by Gibb cultists, with one of Barry's spookiest vocals. "World" (not to be confused with their later hit "My World") has crashing piano, psychedelic guitar and Mellotron, plus a lunatic-asylum lyric worthy of Syd Barrett.

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Bee Gees, “Nights on Broadway” (1975)

Given up for dead, the Gibbs roared back bigger than ever as dance-floor studs. "Nights on Broadway" is pure darkness and despair, as Barry wanders the New York streets alone – it's the Taxi Driver of disco. 

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Bee Gees, “Stayin’ Alive” (1977)

Their hugest hit, from Saturday Night Fever, with Barry unleashing his world-beating falsetto. It's easy to miss the nihilistic lyrics, but with the sinister guitar and the "I'm going nowhere" chant, this could be a Joy Division song.

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Andy Gibb, “I Just Want To Be Your Everything” (1977)

The Bee Gees' little brother followed in their footsteps, hitting Number One with his first three singles. Barry wrote this pop gem, along with the weird art-rock epic "Love Is Thicker Than Water." Joe Walsh played guitar on both hits. R.I.P., Andy.

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Barbra Streisand & Barry Gibb, “Guilty” (1980)

The perfect battle of two high-strung diva voices in full-blown disco attack mode. The dramatic moment where Barry makes his big entrance is (as Barbra's fans say) like butter.

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Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton, “Islands in the Stream” (1983)

The classic duet, celebrating silver-fox romance with intense sexual imagery. (How exactly do you use that "fine tooth comb," Kenny?) This song lives on in every karaoke bar on earth. And here's to Ol' Dirty Bastard, Pras and Mya for turning it into the 1998 hip-hop classic "Ghetto Supastar."

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Barry Gibb, “Shine Shine” (1984)

A neglected gem in Barry's songbook, from his 1984 solo joint Now Voyager. This has new wave synth-pop bounce, a hopped-up reggae beat and tortured lyrics about watching the woman you love marry some other guy.

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Destiny’s Child, “Emotion” (2001)

The Gibbs wrote this 1978 hit for Samantha Sang, with Barry singing all over the original track. But it sounds even sadder with Beyonce and the ladies weeping over it – proof that a great song never goes out of style.

In This Article: barry gibb, Bee Gees, The Bee Gees

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