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.”
Share this article
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
more New music
Mike Oldfield's '70s classic. Performed live. With extra trombones
The Super Furries frontman releases a soundtrack that stands tall and on its own merits
Lavish package devoted to the three ‘Cathedral Oceans’ albums
First new work for four years is beautiful but nostalgic
The spirit of Pink Floyd lives on as the 'Rattle That Lock' tour comes home
Black Francis’s mob gets back into their stride with gusto
Can the Icelander's voice and chamber ensemble fill the Albert Hall?
An almanack of historical pleasures from the country songbook
Brit-American duo cross a continent digging into folk music's railroad mythology
The peacemaker of Fleetwood Mac on Mirage, Maui and missing the buzz
Progressive past masters sing the post-Brexit blues
Proof that a Fifties pedigree was no barrier to making the best in Sixties soul