Bee Gees, The Warner Bros. Years 1987-1991
There’s a new box set hitting stores today that’ll thrill fans of Barry, Maurice, and Robin Gibb while also serving to offer a fuller picture of the Bee Gees’ chart comeback after the death of disco, a seismic shift in mainstream music tastes which led the record-buying public at large to mistakenly believe that the group’s career had died, too.
It hadn’t, of course. But it took awhile for the band to convince American audiences of that fact.
Prior to beginning their stint at Warner Brothers, the last real Bee Gees album to be released was 1981’s Living Eyes, although they subsequently contributed five new songs to the soundtrack of the sub-par Saturday Night Fever sequel, Staying Alive, released in 1983. After taking a bit of time off as a group, with Barry and Robin doing some time as solo artists, the Bee Gees reunited and recorded their Warner debut, 1987’s E.S.P., an album which took them into the UK top five for the first time since 1979’s Spirits Having Flown and gave them a chart-topping single with “You Win Again.”
Too bad they weren’t having any of it in the States: “You Win Again” only made it to #75, the album only just barely cracked the upper half of the Billboard Top 200, topping out at #96, and no one beyond the band’s most devoted fans seemed interested in supporting a Bee Gees comeback…until two years later, that is, when they released “One” as a single. (Even then, though, it was muted compared to just about everywhere else in the world.)
1989’s One is one of the Bee Gees’ strongest albums of any era of the group’s history, and though it’s often remembering more for its title track than anything else, it contains numerous classic tracks, including “Ordinary Lives,” “Bodyguard,” and the Gibb brothers’ ode to their younger brother, Andy, “Wish You Were Here.” The album came out in the U.S. six months after its European release, and it still didn’t crack the top 40, but it did a bit better, at least, hitting #68, with “One” taking the band into the top-10 of the Billboard 100 for the first time in many moons. (It’s also worth noting that Warner Brothers decided to tack “You Win Again” onto the U.S. edition of One as a bonus track, apparently hoping that listeners might finally discover what they’d mostly missed out on the first time around.)
Unfortunately, the U.S. success the Bee Gees found with One was short-lived: 1991’s High Civilization, the last of their three albums for Warner Brothers, didn’t chart at all in the States. In fairness, it also was a bit of a commercial disappointment in the UK, only hitting #24, but at least they pulled another top-five single with the incredibly catchy “Secret Love.” While arguably the least of the group’s three Warner efforts, it still has some fine moments, including “When He’s Gone,” “Happy Ever After,” and the title track.
Even if you happen to have all three of these albums, Bee Gees fans, be aware that there’s plenty of additional material on this set to make it worth your while: beyond the bonus tracks tacked onto each of the studio albums, you’ll find an additional two discs worth of live material. Mind you, if you have the group’s One for All concert video, you’ve heard it, but this marks the first time the entire performance has been released on CD. Give it a listen below and hear how good it sounds, but if you’re a fan, we’re betting you won’t even make it all the way through before you’ve purchased a copy of your very own.