-->
Music

Various Artists: To Love the Bee Gees: A Tribute to the Brothers Gibb

Fifteen stylistically diverse artists take on the equally stylistically diverse Brothers Gibb with largely satisfying results.


Various Artists

To Love the Bee Gees: A Tribute to the Brothers Gibb

Label: 80 Proof
US Release Date: 2015-11-27
UK Release Date: 2015-11-27
Amazon
iTunes

For all intents and purposes, it could be argued that the Bee Gees were essentially two separate bands, linked by name alone. There’s the late ‘60s iteration that focused on vaguely psychedelic, maudlin baroque pop that resulted in a handful of hits, highly regarded singles and good-to-solid albums. And then there’s the million-selling megastar disco-fied version that sprang up in the wake of the massive success of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Of course, each represents the prevailing trends within the music industry at the time and, being savvy pop practitioners, the Brothers Gibb found themselves smack dab in the middle of these trends, achieving varying degrees of success within each. It was a case of having the right sound at the right time, not to mention an uncanny ability to churn out genuine pop hits in a variety of styles.

Given the impact the first incarnation has had on a legion of indie pop groups, it would not have been surprising if much of To Love the Bee Gees: A Tribute to the Brothers Gibb was culled from their late ‘60s output. Much of this is due to the credibility and “hip” status granted these psych-pop records and the unfair scorn and derision leveled at their disco-era output. Fortunately, nearly the whole of their career is represented across the album’s 15 tracks. From their 1967 debut Bee Gees’ 1st (“To Love Somebody” and “Cucumber Castle”) to 1993’s Size Isn’t Everything (a swirlingly hypnotic rendition of “Blue Island”) and all points in between, the whole of their career arc is represented.

Going against type, former Belle & Sebastian vocalist (themselves no stranger to the early sound of the Bee Gees) and solo artist Isobel Campbell tackles the ‘70s staple “How Deep Is Your Love". Of course, she does so in a style more reminiscent of their ‘60s work, but it only proves the point that, regardless of the style, the Brothers Gibb knew how to craft an impeccable pop song.

One of perhaps the best pairings of artist and song is that of baroque-pop icon Emitt Rhodes who takes on the melancholic “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart", the lead-off track from their 1971 release Trafalgar. Himself no stranger to a finely crafted pop hook, Rhodes does an exceptional job building on the original and reshaping it within his own image without deviating too far from the sound of the of the original.

Mexican electronic dance collective Kinky puts their own indelible stamp on “Living Together” from 1979’s Spirits Having Flown. Here the original’s disco funk is recast within a more contemporary style of dance music, one equally influenced by and indebted to the Bee Gees late ‘70s recordings. Coming after Elayna Boynton’s Nina Simone-channeling reading of “To Love Somebody", it can feel a bit of a stark contrast. But it’s this stylistic diversity and compositional consistency, an undeniably winning combination, which has caused the Bee Gees to remain relevant into the 21st century.

Similarly, Dylan Gardner’s “Massachusetts” adheres closely to the original, right down to the maudlin warble of not only the lead, but the harmonies as well. Closest to its source material, Gardner’s contribution finds its heart within the spirit of the original but recast within a contemporary singer-songwriter framework, albeit one strongly indebted to and influenced by albums like 1968’s Horizontal. The Boy Joys take a similar approach with their take on the lyrically absurd “Cucumber Castle". Something of a deep cut, it’s an interesting choice done serviceably.

On “Fanny (Be Tender My Love)", Brazzaville provides just the right touch of schmaltz and irony-free AOR that wouldn’t have sounded out of place next to the version which appeared on the million-selling Main Course. Conversely, Martin Carr’s complete and total dismantling of the disco anthem “Stayin’ Alive” sounds nothing like the original, the lyrics its only identifying marker.

Due to strength of the source material and its overall malleability, there was little chance for some of the abject failures that populate similar tribute albums. That said, several tracks would not have played well regardless of the source material (Myron & E’s electro-rock steady reading of “Jive Talkin’” and Mary Margaret O’Hara’s over-the-top warbling on “Tell Me Why” chiefly among them). Stylistically diverse, each artist here brings a bit of themselves to their performance while still honoring the spirit of the original. Recast as either a simmering ballad or up-tempo soul number, each song plainly proves its inherent staying power and furthers the notion that the Bee Gees may well have been one of the greatest pop bands of all time. In this, To Love the Bee Gees is largely the loving tribute their work deserves.

7
Music

The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less
7

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image