Before they went disco, Bee Gees were wonderfully sad bastards

Before they went disco, Bee Gees were wonderfully sad bastards

In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing. This week: songs by real or fake siblings.

History will remember Bee Gees (there’s no “the” in “Brothers Gibb”) primarily as a disco act, with smash hits like “Jive Talkin’” and “Stayin’ Alive,” and with white polyester suits forever linked to their history. But prior to their left turn onto the dance floor, brothers Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb performed some of the most lush, beautiful, melancholy pop in history—the disco years were bigger, but the pop years were still pretty damn big. The best place to start with that period is the 1969 release Best Of Bee Gees, which features a dozen near perfect, mostly very sad songs. “I Started A Joke” may be the best known of this bunch, and it’s also the gloomiest: “I started a joke / which started the whole world crying,” sings Robin Gibb, with some very ’60s plucking behind him, as well as the haunting voices of his brothers. It’s the perfect introduction for fans of vocal pop who only know the tight-trousered disco days. Two of the three brothers have died—Maurice in 2003 and Robin in 2012, leaving behind nearly 50 years of music. In fact, in its 1997 induction notes for the group, The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame noted that “only Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks, and Paul McCartney have outsold the Bee Gees.”

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