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The Joy of the Bee Gees (2014)

Profile of the Gibb brothers, from child stars in Australia to 70s disco superstars.


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Guilty pleasure or genius, misfits or mavericks, noble or naff - how do we really feel about the Bee Gees? Are the brothers Gibb a cacophony of falsettos or songwriting maestros, the soundtrack to every office party or masters of melancholy and existential rage? Are they comedy or Tragedy? How deep is our love and how deep are the Bee Gees? With a back catalogue that includes hits like How Do You Mend a Broken Heart, Massachusetts, Islands in the Stream, Stayin' Alive, Chain Reaction, How Deep Is Your Love, Gotta Get a Message to You, Words, To Love Somebody and Night Fever, the Bee Gees are second only to the Beatles in the 20th-century songwriting pantheon, but while their pop success spans several decades, there are different Bee Gees in different eras. Is there a central glue that unites the brothers and their music and, if so, what is it? The Joy of the Bee Gees features a rare interview with the last remaining Bee Gee brother, Barry Gibb, many of those musicians and industry ...

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Brotherly love and hate
3 January 2018 | by LejinkSee all my reviews

Re-shown by the BBC over Christmas, this was a compact biography of the brothers Gibb's up and down history in the pop music business. Of course one of the most interesting things about the group, besides them being three quite dissimilar looking brothers, was the three equally dissimilar strands of success they achieved in the music industry, firstly their initial emergence as Beatles-besotted pop stars in the late 60's, their late 70's resurgence on the tails of the disco boom and then in the 80's as songwriters and producers for hire when they boosted the careers of artists like Barbra Streisand, Dionne Warwick and Diana Ross besides giving us the massive duet "Islands In The Stream" as recorded by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.

With the full participation of sole survivor Barry (ironically the oldest of the three) and told with home-movies of the brothers as boys, archive footage of their initial success in Australia and then Britain and America, this potted history also contained interesting contributions from the two other musicians who were added to the group in the 60's to make them look more like a band.

It seemed to me that the group split in 1969, although mentioned was rather glossed over with no reference at all to the separate hits that Robin solo ("Saved By The Bell") or Barry and Maurice together still as the Bee Gees ("Don't Forget To Remenber") had. There was also little or no reference at all to the brothers disastrous entry into movies themselves with the universally panned "Sgt Pepper" film they made in 1978 with Peter Frampton, or the loss to drugs of younger brother Andy whose career they boosted with a slew of hit singles during their golden run in the late 70's. Their controversial walk-off of the Clive Anderson TV show was also conspicuous by its absence.

All that said, there were some interesting anecdotes about some of their best songs (apparently their debut hit "New York Mining Disaster" was inspired by the Aberfan Disaster in 1966, "To Love Somebody" was written for Otis Redding and Barry Gibb's breakthrough falsetto was inspired by the Delfonics and Stylistics similarly employing high-voiced lead singers), their controversial medallion-man disco era image was shown from both sides, the group's iconic videos for smash hits "How Deep Is Your Love" And "Stayin' Alive" contrasted with hilarious spoofs of the group image by the likes of Philip Pope "Meaningless Songs In Very High Voices") and Kenny Everett

Naturally in a programme of this type there were celebrity endorsements a-plenty, the weirdest of these coming from John Lydon of all people, rather like the recent revelation of Liam Gallagher's appreciation of George Michael.

All this notwithstanding, I'm a fan of their music and there's no denying their prolific success with their songs still being covered in recent years although usually in dismal fashion by the boy or girl bands of the day.

Love them or hate them, the group unquestionably made their mark in the music world and you can't help but wish now Sir Barry Gibb continuing health and happiness for the future.

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19 December 2014 (UK) See more »

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