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Friday, September 30, 2011

Music Review: Glen Campbell--Ghost on the Canvas (2011)

Take this link to my review of this CD:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Jerry Lee Lewis--Great Balls of Fire (1957)

     You know, being in the headlines for misbehaving has become a bit of an art form for rock musicians for as long as the genre has had a name. Some are calculating their bad behavior, some can't get out of the way of themselves, others just have issues that cause them problems (drinking, drugs, sex....all three...). None of them set the bar, for better or worse like Jerry Lee Lewis. Jerry didn't need artificial stimulation....he could raise hell without any outside influences....

     Watching him tackle a piano is a wonder to behold. There is no suggestive posturing or smouldering sensuality like Elvis. His was an all out assault on his instrument and on a daughters' innocence (or maybe not quite as innocent as parents thought). When he sang (or better yet when you saw him sing), "Great Balls of Fire", you knew exactly what he was talking about....and it wasn't Hailey's comet either.
     Part of this fascination has to come not only from his actual ability, but because of his background. Jerry and cousins Jimmy Swaggart and Micky Gilley all grew up listening much of the same music, and all three are fine musicians. Whereas Swaggart began doing the Lord's work, Jerry took the same influences and went the other direction with it, although early on at least he seemed to have the same love/hate relationship with the music as Little Richard.

     His behavior on and off stage has become legendary. The scandal that was caused when he married his 13 year old cousin took down his rock and roll career, although the 13 year marriage to Myra was long than his marriage to 5 of his other wives (his most recent marriage lasted 20 years....which gives 7 to anyone counting). His persona took one of a true wild man, and despite being blackballed from being played on the rock charts, he made a solid comeback as a Country artist from the mid-60 to well into the 1980's. Which by then, a new generation of rockers pointed to him as a major influence. He has enjoyed that status and continues to record....and raise hell from time to time....

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ben E. King--Stand By Me (1961)

     Ben E. King began his career as Ben E. Nelson and a singer in The Drifters (the second version of the group....that's story is a blog in itself....). They had several big hits with him in lead with, "Save the Last Dance for Me" reaching #1 on the pop charts. After a dispute over money, he was let go, and embarked on a solo career.

     After a name changed to Ben E. King, he scored his first hit with, "Spanish Harlem", then "Stand By Me" in 1961. The song was written by King, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and was based on the spiritual, "Lord, Stand By Me" and two lines that were rooted in Psalm 46:2-3. It was a hit twice in it's original form, in 61' and then again in 1987 in conjunction with the movie of the same name. It has also been a hit for John Lennon in 1975 (#20) , Mickey Gilley in 1980 (#1 Country), and Maurice White in 1985 (#6 R&B/Hip Hop).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bachman-Turner Overdrive--Takin Care of Business (1974)

     The group Brave Belt had morphed into Bachman-Turner Overdrive by 1973, and their first album release was a promising debut, having reached #70 on the US album charts. Late that year, they went back to the studio to record what was to become their breakthrough with a top 10 showing and two hit singles, "Let It Ride", and "Takin' Care of Business".

      The song had it genesis back when Randy Bachman was still playing with the Guess Who. It was written for a recording technician who was working with the group. Originally called, "White Collar Worker" (the recording guys in the studio were required to wear white shirts), it was shelved because lead singer Burton Cummings thought the guitar riff sounded too much like The Beatles "Paperback Writer". It wasn't until BTO was touring that he heard (on the radio) the term, "Takin' Care of Business". Bachman changed the lyrics and the guitar riff a bit and the new song was born.

         An interesting note about the piano part in the song. As the band was listening to a playback of the song a guy who was bringing a pizza to the studio for the Steve Miller Band stuck his head inside the room saying that that song could really use a boogie woogie piano sound. Bachman thought it was just a pizza delivery guy. It was actually Norman Durkee who was not only the musical director for Bette Midler and Barry Manilow, but was an accomplished studio piano player himself. After talking it over with the guys they chased Durkee down in the studio and he wrote the chords of the song on the pizza box....and later that day went and nailed the keys on the first take....


Monday, September 26, 2011

Marty Robbins--El Paso (1959)

     Every once in awhile an artist will create a song that overshadows his work so much that you THINK that he is a one hit wonder, but really isn't. Such is the case for Marty Robbins

     Robbins first No. 1 hit on the country charts was in 1952, and began a long relationship with country fans having 41 top 10 hits with 16 of those reaching the top. Not only that, but he reached the top 20 pop chart 11 times, with "El Paso" being is top hit.

     It's easy to understand why the song overshadows however. The melody sets the tone and then compellingly leads through a story that mixes the best elements of a Western movie, with a romance that will never be fulfilled. It was a strong enough song that Robbins recorded several other "sequel" songs that push the story forward. Although you can hear other songs that he performed on the radio now and then (Most notably, "A White Sport Coat). This overshadows his work so much that the impression can be made (outside of fans of older country music that know better) that it was his ONLY hit. Which is far from the truth.

      Little piece of trivia here....Robbins was not only an avid race car fan, he actually raced in 35 NASCAR races having come in the top 10 six times, including the 1973 Daytona 500.....

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Shelley Fabares--Johnny Angel (1962)

    Shelley Fabares is best known as an actress. From 1958 to 1963, she played, "Mary Stone" on the "Donna Reed Show", and would go on to co-star with Elvis in three of his pictures, and would have greater fame on the TV show, "Coach", and with a long standing part on "One Day at A Time". By the early 60's, the phenomenon of taking teen television stars and putting them in a recording studio was in full swing and Shelley was no different.

     Darlene Love and the Blossoms were here back up group on the record. She later recalled how terrified she was because it was obvious to her that her back up group was so much better singers than she was and really wasn't excited at all about the prospect of being a singer.

     The results on this record however are pleasant. She is covered in reverb just in case, but is isn't bad at all. The public seemed to like it as well as "Johnny Angel" hit #1 in April of 1962. She never had another hit, and was soon concentrating on a film and television career which saw her greater success

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bruce Springsteen--Born to Run (1975)

     In the grand history of rock and roll, there were probably albums that were as important, The Who's, "Who's Next", and The Rolling Stones', "Sticky Fingers" are a couple that come immediately to mind. But both bands had made their initial mark in the late 60's and will always be identified with that era. However, in my mind, the album that made the biggest impact by a 70's era act was "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen".

      His two previous albums had been very well received by critics, but hadn't really taken hold by the listening public. The next album was truly a make or break one, and it sounded like it. The sprawling production, the grand themes and the desperate optimism of the subjects in his songs came across the speakers literally bigger than life. As far as singles go, Bruce would find greater success in later years, as his music and lyrical vision sharpened is focus, but beginning with the FM crowd, the release of this album was like a bomb going off.

     Frankly, this was not only my favorite Bruce album, but I still think it's the best one he ever made. As he soon began to straddle himself between a singles machine and our generation's version of Bob Dylan or Woody Guthrie, he seemed to lose me on both sides. But the sound of those opening drums still excite me and remind me that I might not have been there to see Elvis or the Beatles on TV, but I heard Bruce Springsteen's coming out party, and that's not bad at all....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New CD review: Lindsay Buckingham--Seeds We Sow (2011)

My review of Lindsay Buckingham's latest CD, "Seeds We Sow" is available to read here:


The Eagles--In The City (1979)

     Every so often a song is played so much on the radio that you THINK it was a single, when actually it wasn't. Of course, the greatest example of that is Led Zeppelin's, "Stairway to Heaven", but in the late 60's and especially in the 70's, this would occur.

      The song, "In The City" recorded by the Eagles and written by Joe Walsh and Barry DeVorzon was like that. It was years after that before I realized the song had never actually been released as a single. Written for the movie, "The Warriors", it was so well received by the other Eagles (who were having a devil of a time writing material for another album) that Walsh was asked to add it to what eventually became, "The Long Run"

      Joe Walsh has always been a bit of a favorite, and the Eagles are a much better band for his being there He brought a harder edge to their music, and also something that at the time was desperately needed, a sense of humor.. The song became a favorite in concert and still can be heard when the Eagles tour.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Three Degrees--When Will I See You Again (1974)

     The Three Degrees began in 1963 out of Philadelphia, and was discovered (and managed) by Richard Barrett. The original lineup was Fayette Pinkney, Shirley Porter, and Linda Turner, although Pinkney was the only one who was still around at the time of this recording (she left soon afterward however and was replaced by Helen Scott).

      Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff wrote this song, and Shelia Ferguson recalled that when Kenny first played it for her she was unimpressed. "....I threw a tantrum. I screamed and yelled and said I would never sing it. I thought it was ridiculously insulting to be given such a simple song and that it took no talent to sing it. We did do it and several million copies later, I realized that he knew more than me." There time on the charts was done by the late 70's, but continued recording regularly into the mid-80's and still tours today (with a different set of woman).

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hank Williams--Hey Good Lookin' (1951)

     As a child, I remember the two album set that my daddy owned. It had a purple label and the music was a foreign to me as anything I had ever heard. At the time my listening experiences had been AM radio, and dad listened to country, but nothing had prepared me for hearing this yodeling and this voice that seemed to bounce around like a yo-yo at times. But there was something sweet about the vocals, actually it was downright poetic....that was my first introduction to Hank Williams Sr.

      One of the reasons that Hank Sr is still seen as the touchstones of country music  was his ability to take the life and loves of common folk and boil it down in a lyrical style that is almost poetic. His mannerism and vocal delivery screams country, but the songs themselves go far beyond classification. This was to his advantage as many pop singers covered his songs, but it also laid the foundation down for every singer/songwriter who wanted to be "of the people". Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson,  Garth Brooks all have Hank as their lyrical touchstone.

       It's hard to imagine what country music would have been like had Williams not died so young. On the other hand, his legend might not have been as secured if his passing not been while he was still churning out classic songs. For those who are living now on a diet of what "country radio" has and you want to hear what real country was all about....start right here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Paul/Linda McCartney--Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (1971)

     It's hard to imagine now the atomic blast that was the break-up of the Beatles. Although not a true fan of their music at the time (or anyone elses), I distinctly remember at the age of 9 hearing about the breakup. Having been a rabid fan over the years since, reading as many accounts as I could get my hands on, it's sad that something so totally unmusical caused the break up, at the same time it being so inevitable. Those first few years afterward the microscope on their lives was as intense as ever, as each of them dealt with it in totally different (and predictable) ways. 

     Many of the fans were looking for outside sources to blame for the breakup. Yoko took heaps of abuse for her perceived role, in a lesser way Linda did as well. However, the press seemed to take dead aim at Paul. Maybe it was because he was the first one to "officially" leave, this despite the Ringo and George quitting for brief periods of time and John being begged not to break the band up during a time where a new record deal was being negotiated. His leaving, along with leaving behind a debut album that was as much therapy session as it was album gave many in the media a boatload of reason to take dead aim at Paul AND Linda.  

     The album, "McCartney" came across then (as now) as a lot of unfinished ideas and one brilliant song (Maybe I'm Amazed). It wasn't bad at all, it just seemed so un-Paul like that it was jarring in it's own way. The second album which was much more filled out, included Linda on some of the background vocals. It also gave more of a template (for better or worse) of the kind of music that Paul was to make over the next decade. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey according to McCartney was based on an uncle of his while Admiral Halsey was built on a real General, William Halsey Jr who fought in the Pacific theater during World War 2.

     The album, "Ram" had mixed reviews at the time, but over the last 40 years has aged well. The single was his first of seven #1 hits in the decade (in the US), and at least for me, one of his most creative....

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Glen Campbell--Rhinestone Cowboy (1975)

     One of the things that can happen as one gets older is something I call generational arrogance. It's usually caused by an assumption that just because people of my age group knows something, that everyone (including anyone younger than us) ought to know it too. However after running into a few people who had no idea who he was, I found myself surprised that after over 250 blogs this year, that this song hadn't come up on my list of things to do. After just releasing his highly acclaimed album just a few weeks ago and heading off into retirement, it's time to remind folks that at one time, there wasn't a singer who was hotter on the pop or country charts than Glen Campbell

      I don't want to write a bio about him, but let's go over a few things that you might not know. First of all, he moved to California from Arkansas in the late 50's to be a guitar player and session man. He can first be heard on the 1959 hits, "Tequila" by the Champs. His distinctive guitar style moved him up quickly and soon became part of a group of  top session players called "The Wrecking Crew" who performed on a number of "A" list performers. He replaced Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys on the 1964/65 tour after Wilson had a nervous breakdown and retired from performing on stage. In fact, Glen was invited to join the Boys, but turned the opportunity down which eventually went to Brian Johnston.

      He had a few solo releases in the early/mid 60's, but it was his breakthrough single, "Gentle On My Mind" that put him on the map. It was his later hits, "By the Time I Get To Phoenix, Galveston, and Wichita Lineman, all written by Jimmy Webb that pushed him into superstar territory. He had his own television show for several years as well. Campbell's last burst on the pop charts was in the middle 70's, when several songs reached the top 10. The first one of those, become somewhat of a signature song.

      Larry Weiss wrote Rhinestone Cowboy and recorded it on his own album, "Black and Blue" in 1974. His version didn't make a dent, however a cover version later that year by Neil Diamond saw some action on the Adult Contemporary charts. Campbell first heard the song while on tour and was very impressed, as were the folks of Capitol. He would have another #1 within a year ("Southern Nights") and would have success on the country charts all the way up to the mid-80's.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Bar-Kays: Soul Finger (1967)

     The Bar-Kays were a group of session musicians out of Memphis working with the Stax label. In 1967 they joined Otis Redding as his backing band. Late that year all but two of them died in the plane crash that also took the life of Redding. Trumpet player Ben Cauley who was the only survivor of the crash, and bassist James Alexander who was on another plane, rebuilt the group into more of a dance/funk outfit in the 70's. 

     The kids you hear in this recording had been hanging around outside the studio and were asked to join in the recording by shouting, "soul finger" when asked. They were paid with bottles of coke. The song has been heard in a couple of movies over the years. "Spies Like Us", the 1985 release with Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd, and just recently in 2009 with, "Soul Men" with Samuel L. Jackson, and the late Bernie Mac. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Barbara and Neil--You Don't Bring Me Flowers (1978)

This song was written by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman for a TV pilot created by Norman Lear called All That Glitters. The song was intended to be a theme song, but Norman Lear changed the concept of the show so that the song no longer fit. Eventually, Neil Diamond and several collaborators came upon the song (then only 45 seconds long) and expanded it with instrumental sections. The Bergmans expanded the song to full length with an additional verse, and the composition took form.
In 1977, Diamond released the album I'm Glad You're Here with Me Tonight, which included the track "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" as a solo performance. Early in 1978, Barbra Streisand covered the song on her album Songbird.

Enter Gary Guthrie who was the program director at WAKY-AM in Louisville KY, who spliced the two solo tracks together as a going away present to his wife, whom he had just divorced. As the real life story behind the song unfolded, interest in the duet caused Columbia Records was compelled to bring Streisand and Diamond into the studio to record an "official" version in October 1978. The song reached number one for two non-consecutive weeks in December 1978, producing the third number-one hit for both singers.

Diamond and Streisand had planned to star in a motion picture based on the song, but such plans were canceled when Diamond starred in a remake of The Jazz Singer. The version you are going to see here is what I consider the definitive version from the Grammy's in 1980.... 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Redbone--Come and Get Your Love (1974)

     The group Redbone was led by two brothers, Patrick and Lolly Vasquez (their stage name was Vegas). They're known as being one of the first (if only) groups to hit the charts who had all Native American members. This is true, although the brothers were actually of mixed heritage (which was the reason for the name change), it was also the basis of the name "Redbone", which is a Cajun term for someone of mixed race. The group is also seen as a one hit wonder (thanks oldies radio), but they actually had another top 40 hit in 1972 with, "The Witch Queen of New Orleans".

     As opposed to many groups who have one great song in them, Redbone developed an intriguing blend of  tribal, Cajun, R&B, Latin, and rock which although not quite as commercial, was an interesting sound that influenced many bands in LA at the time, and certainly makes their albums worth seeking out. There is no doubt however, the themes of a lot of the music, not to mention their onstage look was deeply influenced by their Native American heritage. Lolly Vasquez was also an innovator himself on the guitar as he was the first to play his instrument through a Leslie cabinet (usually meant for an organ), and produced a unique sound....

Friday, September 9, 2011

Otis Redding--Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay (1968)

    If all you did was listen to oldies radio, you would think this song was the only hit that Redding had. And it IS true that it was his only top 20 song (it went to #1), but he had success going all the way back to 1965 having 7 songs in the top 40 during that time. His success on the R&B charts and in Britain were much stronger.

     As opposed to what some might think, "Dock of the Bay" was actually to be Redding's next single and worked on it just a few days before his death. The whistle at the end was speculated to be there because he forgot the next verse. However, Steve Cropper who co-wrote the song and Otis, and played the distinctive guitar part has said that there was a spoken word part and he had forgotten the words. In either case, the decision was made to leave it there, which ended up making the perfect ending to the song.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Patsy Cline--Crazy (1961)

     The song "Crazy" put two different artists on the musical map. The singer who made her signature song, and the writer who would later become an star in his own right.....

     By 1961, Patsy Cline had just taken a turn in her career that would help her break through in a big way. In 1955, she had signed a contract with Four Star Records, but there was stipulation that she could only record songs by Four Star songwriters. This didn't set well with her as she struggled to find a sound suitable for her husky voice. Through appearances on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts in 1957, the song, "Walkin' After Midnight" reached the charts, but it was the only song in 5 years that even charted.

     Her contract went out in 1960 and she signed with Decca Records-Nashville under the direction of legendary producer Owen Bradley. Her first single, "I Fall to Pieces" went to No. 1, but the next song, "Crazy", was one she didn't like, nor did she like the way it was sung. Part of the problem seemed to be that Nelson's demo was a faster tempo than Cline was comfortable with, and the second was the attempt to sing it with the vocal breaks like Nelson. Anyone who has heard Willie's music knows his vocal style is truly one of a kind, so an adjustment to a ballad type style, along with Patsy's smoothing out of the rough edges of the vocals created a musical masterpiece.

    Two years later Cline was gone, but in that short time, the music, and her take charge attitude concerning her career totally redefined country music for generations of women. Although it would take Nelson another decade to break through on his own terms, "Crazy" gave a hint of what would make him a star. This song, became the base for which the both of them became American icons.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Band--The Weight (1968)

     Luis Bunuel was a Spanish born movie director. Many of his movies were full of surrealism and religious imagery. Although for most of his life, he considered himself an atheist, much of the subject matter of his movies dealt with issues of morality.  It was some of the moral dilemmas explored in Bunuel's work that caught the attention of Robbie Robertson.

     The group that he was a member of had been backing Bob Dylan on his previous tour which saw a transition from an acoustic folk sound, to an electric, harsher rock sound. In 1966 he was in a motorcycle accident and went into semi-seclusion. During this time, he called his band to move up to Woodstock NY where he was staying. The time spent working on music eventually became known as "The Basement Tapes". They also began writing for themselves as well and this was released in 1968 as, "Music From Big Pink".

     "The Weight" was the first single, and reached #63. Over the next two years, three versions were recorded that actually did better in the states. Jackie DeShannon, The Supremes with The Temptations, and Aretha Franklin covered with better success. However, time has elevated the original version to classic status.

Jefferson Starship--Miracles (1975)

     The Jefferson Airplane had run into the ground. With the Paul Kantner/Grace Slick songwriting axis on one side, and Kaukonen/Cassady on the other, Balin and his romantic ballads had been left out. His close friend Janis Joplin had just died and was wanting to separate himself from the drug lifestyle that the others were involved in. He finally left the group in 1970, and not long after that, the group itself ground to a halt. Jack Cassady and Jorma Kaukonen devoted themselves full time to Hot Tuna and Kantner/Grace released a series of albums. The first one, "Blows Against the Empire" was credited to Paul Kantner/Jefferson Starship was the first time that name had been used (this was 1980), and formally named that in 1974. On the first album under that name, "Dragon Fly", Balin had been invited to write a song, and a year later was formally invited to the group full time.

      1975 brought Red Octopus and the best selling album in the Jefferson Starship formation. Balin contributed the song Miracles, which not only was the highest charting single before the forming of Starship, but the album went #1 as well. The song shows off Balin's romantic crooning that has always been a hallmark of his best work, but what sends it soaring was the great production by Larry Cox. This is a song that you need to hear in it's album format. It's almost 7 minutes long, but there isn't a wasted note anywhere....

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday Morning Vault: Head East--Never Been Any Reason (1975)

     I am not usually one of those people who would talk about the "days when I was a kid" to a younger generation. But with today's blog one of the two things (vinyl albums being one) that made music better in the 70's comes to the forefront of my mind.

     The story of how FM began to be used as a regular alternative for music other than top 40 AM radio is for another day. But for me, it was in Jr. High school that my memory of our local "underground" music station comes clear. KSHE 95 was the station and it was THE place to listen if you wanted a respite from Donny Osmond and The Carpenters.  My love of progressive rock music found seed and grew here, as was an appreciation of rock acts that were not "popular" until much later. Groups like Supertramp, Styx, Journey, REO Speedwagon, Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, Billy Joel, Charlie Daniels, were heard regularly on our airwaves long before they hit top40 gold. Also many acts that never saw huge success but found a home here like Pavlov's Dog, Missouri and today's focus....Head East.

     Head East was out of South Central Illinois, and had taken the same route as another group from the same area, REO Speedwagon. They honed their skills playing the bars and clubs around Carbondale (home of Southern Illinois University), St. Louis, then more regionally. They released their first album, "Flat as a Pancake" in 1974 on their own record label and quickly sold the first pressing of 5,000 units. The single eventually would reach the top 100 on the Billboard charts, as would two later releases.

     Singer John Schlitt would be kicked out of the band in 1980 because of cocaine and alcohol abuse. He would clean up his life and for a time was out of music entirely. In 1986, he was asked become lead singer of Petra, which at the time was Contemporary Christian Music's top band. He not only joined, but stayed with the group until they retired as a group in 2005. 


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Leo Sayer--You Make Me Feel Like Dancing (1977)

    I'd like to say there was a real good reason for posting this song. Except for the fact that the dammed thing has gotten stuck in my head and by hearing it maybe it will go away.....

    Leo was born in England although just a few years back became an Australian citizen, and spent time on the US charts from 1974-81, quite a bit longer in Britain.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Billy Preston---Outa Space (1972)

     He had been around.....a lot.

     As a child he played organ alongside Mahalia Jackson, James Cleveland, and Andre Crouch. In the early 60's, he had already played in Little Richard's band and appeared on an album with Sam Cooke in addition to releasing his own gospel album in 1963. During that time he was touring with Richard, they traveled to Hamburg, Germany where he met a fledgling group from Liverpool called The Beatles. The meeting was a friendly one and would later be of great benefit to the group and to Preston.
      In 1965 he would release his first secular album (he released 7 of them in the 60's), and in 1967 would join Ray Charles' band which was where he was in 1969 when George Harrison came to see him play. Harrison was working with the other Beatles on what was to eventually become the "Let it Be" album and film. Pressures from many different places led him in exasperation to walk out for a period of time. While gone, he caught Ray Charles' concert in London. George had been the Beatle who was closest friends to Preston and the after the concert was invited to visit them all at the studio. 

      The meeting was a magical one as all of the Beatles were on their best behavior and after sitting in with them on a session invited him to record with them. The result was that the infusion of soul and excitement that Preston brought to the album saved it from being a disaster. He is the only one besides Tony Sheridan (very early in their careers) to share billing with them on a recording. The exposure was also very beneficial as it helped launch a very successful recording period throughout the 70's. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Bee Gees--Night Fever (1978)

     Today is Barry Gibb's 65th birthday, and it's time to give him some props....

      I've never been a fan of 70's era disco, but it's not without it's charms, and although it turned into a record producer's version of spam, at it's peak it could be innovative (not to mention fun). Enter The Bee Gees. They had a long career by the time and at least to the public had dissipated from the popular music landscape. During this time however, they had continued to put out quality albums, and write...for themselves and for others. For those who were fans, the beginnings of what was to be the disco era Bee Gees could be found in the 1974 album, "Mr. Natural", when they shed the previous styles that they had been known for and sang in a looser style, with the tempo and tenor of the album was more upbeat.

      The next album, 1975's "Main Course" was the breakthrough. For those who think that Saturday Night Fever "made" the Bee Gees need to go here. They fully embraced the surfacing disco movement, but with a major difference. The Gibb brothers' writing skills had always been good, but by this time a new and exciting musical movement meshed perfectly in a way that gave some intelligence and depth to what was considered just glorified dance music.  

     The real songwriting leader during this time was Barry, and 1977/78 was his year. Consider that from December of 77 to September of 78, the charts were ruled by song written by the eldest brother. This is the list of No. 1's he had during this time:
     "How Deep is Your Love"
     "Stayin' Alive"
      "(Love is) Thicker Than Water"
      "Night Fever"
      "If I Can't Have You"
     "Shadow Dancing"

     In fact, Gibb holds the record for consecutive #1's on the charts with six. Looking back 30 years later, there is a lot of dreck associated with disco music, and I'd be the first to point it out. But for anyone who is still not a believer, the Bee Gees (and the songwriting of Barry) was not only the class of the era, but produced arguably the best music of the 70's.