There was a time in the late 1970s, when the Bee Gees (i.e. Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb) had the Midas touch. Everything turned to gold and the brothers had stepped into the shoes of their biggest heroes, the Beatles. No surprise, then, that the career of their younger brother, Andy, which was precipitously launched during this period, would also enjoy equally immense success, as evidenced by three number one singles.
However, as the Bee Gees suffered at the hands of fickle fans and bore the brunt of the “disco sucks” backlash, Andy Gibb would similarly lose the support of the public and faded away to momentarily find his feet as a presenter with the Solid Gold TV programme before the toll of cocaine abuse led to a premature demise in 1988, aged 30.
Gibb’s recorded legacy, composed entirely of three albums—Flowing Rivers (1977), Shadow Dancing (1978) and After Dark (1979)—may not have travelled too well into the new millennium, much of its original lustre lost in its association with the disco boom of its time. However, as this compilation amply proves, Gibb and his more illustrious brother Barry were consummate pop writers, performers and producers and able to conjure pure pop magic consistently.
This is indisputable when reviewing the first five tracks on this collection. “I Just Want to be Your Everything” provided a dynamic introduction to the world stage for Gibb. Its gleaming guitar work, easy disco rhythms and infectious melody, plus the Gibb brand name, catapulted the junior Gibb into the limelight. Somewhat lightweight, this Barry Gibb-penned track paled in comparison to the more sophisticated follow-up “(Love is) Thicker Than Water” (by both Barry and Andy), which contrasted a dynamic chorus hook with a demure jazzy verse aesthetic. “Shadow Dancing”, composed by all four Gibb brothers, provided the title for Gibb’s sophomore effort—an accomplished effort that also spawned the excellent singles “Everlasting Love” and “(Our Love) Don’t Throw It All Away”.
The former (again written by brother Barry) is perhaps Gibb’s defining recorded moment highlighting an irresistibly passionate chorus whilst the latter—co-written by Barry Gibb and Bee Gees keyboardist Blue Weaver—is a heart-tugging ballad used to commemorate Gibb’s memory on the recent Bee Gees live album, One Night Only.
By the time After Dark was recorded, Gibb was fading away as a creative force. None of the album’s singles—viz. the title track, “Desire” (reputedly a Bee Gees track with Gibb’s vocal tagged on) and the duet with Olivia Newton-John “I Can’t Help It”—bore his creative input. This resulted in Gibb’s weakest outing, although these songs remained listenable fare for Andy Gibb or Bee Gee fans.
As much as the songs here emphasise Gibb’s massive popularity in the late ‘70s, they also tend to accentuate Gibb’s debt to elder brother Barry for this success. It is instructional to note that Barry Gibb was responsible for every one of Andy’s hit singles. The Flowing Rivers and Shadow Dancing albums are better resources to investigate if one is indeed curious about Gibb’s own songwriting prowess. In any case, pop culture junkies could do worse than to add this collection to their library—if only to sample the enjoyable pop fodder of the disco era.