Saturday, December 4, 2010



So I've immersed myself in these Bee Gees DVD's the past couple of nights, while hiding out home alone, so nobody could see me.  There is perhaps no other group that can bring out such a visceral reaction, from joy to sheer hatred.  As a trial balloon, I updated my Facebook status to announce I was knee-deep in their music, and I got more comments than anything else I've ever posted, save my birthday.  There were sneers, jokes, kudos, and there was the usual great amount of venom.

Even the Bee Gees know why so many people hate them.  There's no question they became the whipping boys for committing the crime of disco.  Barry Gibb, as seen in the new documentary In Our Own Time, admitted at the group's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame that he knows the huge backlash to disco pretty much soured the last three decades of their career.  In the DVD they claim to be quite happy to have held the flag for disco, given the 30-million sales of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.  Yet of course, they weren't even making disco music, it was music you could dance to, the group's take on soul and r'n'b.

So, it's difficult to get a handle on my own feelings about the music.  Watching the live concert set One Night Only from 1997, I'm impressed and repulsed in equal measures.  The cheesy Vegas act makes me gag, but the songs are, to my ears, brilliant.  It's the current hipster believe that early Bee Gees is cool, and certainly such gems as Run To Me, How Can You Mend A Broken Heart, and To Love Somebody remain wonders.  But the further Saturday Night Fever moves into the past, the more I can appreciate Jive Talkin', Night Fever, and Nights On Broadway, even with Barry's falsetto and gold chains.  Heck, I can even find some newer songs I like.

The documentary includes lots of vintage clips from Australian TV shows and explains the origin of the family band.  Nothing's left out, including the first sibling fight and break-up in 1970, the failure of their early 70's albums, the accidental rebirth Jive Talkin' brought them, the drug and alcohol death of brother Andy, and the more recent death of Maurice.  Brand-new interviews with the remaining brothers are direct but like the rest of the world has discovered, this is no easy story to tell, there's no closure to the documentary, no answer to the big question:  Were the Bee Gees brilliant or brilliant at making candy floss?

The concert's okay, you really don't need to watch it more than once, if at all, but the documentary will serve you well, with lots of good archival material.  After two days and some soul-searching I can say for me, I really do love a lot of the band's music, even what's been incorrectly labeled disco all these years.  Having said that, I'm still going to be a little careful where I admit that.  We're all friends here, right?

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