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Bee Gees

The Warner Bros. Years 1967-1991 (Warner Bros.)

Reviewed by Scott Schinder, Fri., July 4, 2014

Box Sets

Bee Gees

The Warner Bros. Years 1987-1991 (Warner Bros.)

The Bee Gees' massive success never eclipsed the singular, otherworldly sensibility they brought to nearly every piece of music they ever made. As a result, even their most mundane work carries a powerfully exotic undercurrent, as if it was made by Martians trying to pass for earthly pop stars. Surveying a period during which the Australian trio seemed intent on toning down its eccentricities in an effort to reverse their faded commercial fortunes, the 5-CD Warner Bros. Years demonstrates how the brothers Gibb couldn't help but sound original and unique, even when they were trying to sound like everyone else. The three LPs here serve as perfect examples of how the siblings elevated even their least inspired music. 1987's E.S.P. sets Barry, Maurice, and Robin's keening vocals amongst claustrophobic synths and oppressive drum machines, yet the latter brother's gloriously wounded soul shines through the slickness on the stirring "The Longest Night." 1989's One remains an overly polite attempt at urbanized adult-pop, whose bubbly, near-hit title track plagiarizes "Jive Talkin'." The Gibbs are back on their game two years later with High Civilization, sounding inspired and ecstatic while delivering the surging harmonies of "When He's Gone" and "Ghost Train." Discs four and five house a rousing 1989 Melbourne concert that reprises most of the hits. The Warner Bros. Years 1987-1991 proves that even the Bee Gees' lesser work evinces a touch of genius.

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