The Nation's Favourite Bee Gees Song, ITV1 | New music reviews, news & interviews
The Nation's Favourite Bee Gees Song, ITV1
A safe but sincere tribute to the biggest hits of the Brothers Gibb
“They’re some of the greatest pop songs ever written,” declares Sir Elton John. He’s right. The Bee Gees – Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb – are responsible for songs that will live forever, songs that are part of successive generation’s cultural furniture. Yet although the title was The Nation’s Favourite Bee Gees Song, the question asked on the ITV website was: “Just what is the greatest Bee Gees song ever?” Favourite and greatest aren’t the same thing. They can be, but they aren’t.
This kitten-soft stroll through 20 of The Bee Gees’ evergreens wasn’t concerned with any such existential dilemma. Amanda Holden’s excited-puppy voiceover wasn’t made for questioning. So thankfully, we had help from Sirs Elton John and Cliff Richard, Neil Sedaka, Bob Harris and Katie Melua. Dave Grohl, too. And Barry and Robin Gibb. It was obvious from before the off that the concept album Odessa, oddities like “Harry Braff” or the classics “Red Chair, Fadeway" and “Kilburn Towers” weren’t going to get a look in. Of course, there are other programmes to be made about their songs: The Bee Gees' Most Idiosyncratic Songs maybe, or one dedicated to the songs they’ve given away. Let’s hope they get made.
The wildly perky voiceover wittered that they defined an era. Which one?
Still, whatever the Bee Gee torch held, it’s extraordinary that the band's survival instinct – perhaps strengthened at different times by the deaths of both Maurice and solo brother Andy – has given their songs a seemingly endless shelf life, while they themselves write songs that suit any of pop’s generations. “They defined an era,” wittered the wildly perky voiceover. Which one? As Sir Cliff noted, they reinvented themselves.
Judging by the session musicians trotted out, the Gibbs relied on studio keyboard players to realise their ideas, as well as the producers they worked with. Robin Gibb said they always started with a melody and recorded the complete backing track before adding a vocal. Barry Gibb said of his trademark wordless high vocal that, “I went out there and screamed, and it didn’t sound like a scream.” Of Barbra Streisand he insightfully offered, “She’s great, she’s Barbra.”
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