What is the ‘Mythology’ about Bee Gees?

Bee Gees:
Mythology
Reprise (R2 520368)
Grade: ***


By Gillian G. Gaar

The curiously titled “Mythology” (what is it that’s mythological about Bee Gees, exactly?) serves up a variety of tracks from the 50-year career of the Gibb brothers, including not just the Bee Gees, but also the brief solo career of the youngest brother, Andy Gibb.

Each of the four CDs spotlights a different brother, an interesting way to present the set’s 81 songs. You’ll find the “Saturday Night Fever” hits of course, as well as pre- and post-“Fever” hits like “Jive Talkin’” and “Tragedy.” But the Bee Gees enjoyed more success outside the US both before and after “Fever,” and the most interesting part of this set is discovering songs from albums that hit everywhere but here, like “E•S•P” and “One,” along with early tracks like “Spicks and Specks” (from 1966) and unusual B-sides like “Sir Geoffrey Saved The World” (the flip of the 1967 “World” single). Though their musical fortunes may have gone up and down, the Brothers Gibb never failed to turn in confident, polished performances.

The harmonizing was a great part of the Bee Gees’ appeal (siblings’ voices tend to blend together exceptionally well), and as a solo artist, Andy is not as strong a singer. The expected hits are on his disc (“Shadow Dancing” and “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water”), along with most of the songs from his 1977 debut, “Flowing Rivers.” Of special interest is the previously unreleased “Arrow Through The Heart,” recorded shortly before his death, and sounding tougher than some of his other MOR material. Maurice’s CD also features previously unreleased tracks, “Angel of Mercy” and “The Bridge.”

The booklet has testimonials from folks who crossed paths with the brothers instead of a history (it’s amusing to see George Martin play down his involvement in the disastrous film version of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” simply referring to it as “a film in Hollywood in which the Bee Gees were to appear”). Overall, it’s a set that’s designed to provide a general overview of the Gibbs’ work, with those three rarities to entice collectors.

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