Saturday, April 21, 2012

Solo Bee Gees

The Bee Gees seem to be the prime example of the sum being greater than any of the individual parts. NONE of The Brothers Gibb enjoyed much of a solo career ... yet together they've been radio staples for over 40 years.

Brother Barry, most often featured as lead vocalist on The Bee Gees' biggest hits, and certainly the most prolific writer and producer in the bunch, managed a couple of Top Ten Hits thanks to two duets that he recorded with Barbra Streisand ... but these were really Barbra Streisand records. His only Top 40 solo hit, "Shine Shine", crapped out at #37 in 1984.

Shine Shine 

Maurice ... "The Quite One" ... (as Beatles-comparisons followed them throughout their career) never really had a solo hit ... but a while back we featured an INCREDIBLY powerful video of Maurice performing with his ex-wife Lulu on one of her British Television Specials. Sadly, we lost Maurice in 2003, shortly after this was filmed. It's an absolutely BEAUTIFUL version of The Bee Gees' hit "First Of May", which we featured earlier in this series. 
Click here: YouTube - LuLu & Maurice Gibb - First of May 

When it comes to Bee Gees music, Maurice rarely took the lead ... he was more of a musical and vocal arranger for the band ... but in 2001 we were very fortunate to be one of the first in the country to premier the brand new Bee Gees album "This Is Where I Came In" ... and on that CD was a track called "She Keeps On Coming" that I said at the time the band should have sent around to radio stations with a blank label in the hopes of getting them to play it. The reason for this was that it sounded like a VERY contemporary cut ... something along the lines of Talking Heads meets Robert Palmer meets Jeff Lynne of ELO ... what it DIDN'T sound like was ANYTHING else The Bee Gees had ever recorded!!! (Unfortunately, by this time The Bee Gees were pretty much blacklisted by radio ... NOBODY was going to take a chance on playing a new Bee Gees tune ... which is why Forgotten Hits proved to be an interesting outlet to premier this track.) Of course, nobody at the time had any idea that this would be the LAST album The Bee Gees ever recorded ... a couple of years later, Maurice was dead, and Barry and Robin have yet to return to the studio for anything that might be considered a Bee Gees project.

Give a listen to "She Keeps On Coming" and see what you think. My guess is you NEVER would have believed this to be The Bee Gees at the time ... and, in 2001, I'm also guessing that this one could have been a pretty big hit ... and who knows ... maybe even kicked off Phase FIVE of their remarkable career!!!

She Keeps On Coming

Robin tried the hardest to get a solo career off the ground, dating back to the first break-up of the band in 1969. Proof again that the public wasn't accepting ANY of The Bee Gees as solo acts is the fact that Robin's biggest hit was a slowed-down remake of The Beatles / "Abbey Road" song "Oh! Darling" ... which hit #15 in 1978. It came from the soundtrack to the DISASTROUS film "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", which starred The Bee Gees, Peter Frampton and an assortment of other guest stars who have spent the better part of last 35 years trying to forget the whole experience. But in 1984, Robin recorded a techno-pop song called "Boys Do Fall In Love", which I actually LOVED at the time. Unfortunately, not too many other folks out there felt the same way, and "Boys Do Fall In Love" stopped at #37.

Oh! Darling

Boys Do Fall In Love

Baby brother Andy ... we could easily do another week-long feature on the tragedy that was HIS life ... scored nine straight Top 40 Hits written and produced with his brother Barry. "Shadow Dancing" topped the charts for seven weeks back in 1978 at the height of Bee Gees-mania ... and "I Just Want To Be Your Everything" and "Love Is Thicker Than Water" gave him THREE #1 Singles in a row. Other hits included An Everlasting Love (#5, 1978); Our Love, Don't Throw It All Away (#7, 1978); Desire (#4, 1980); I Can't Help It (a duet with Olivia Newton-John that peaked at #12 in 1980); Time Is Time (#15, 1981) and Me Without You (#40, 1981). His duet with then gal-pal Victoria Principal, "All I Have To Do Is Dream", stopped at #51 in 1981. While you still hear "I Just Want To Be Your Everything" and "Shadow Dancing" quite a bit on the radio, two of Andy's BEST ballads have joined the ranks of the forgotten and ignored ... so today we're featuring a couple of OUR favorites, An Everlasting Love and Our Love, Don't Throw It All Away.

(Our Love) Don't Throw It All Away

An Everlasting Love

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Bee Gees - Part 3

Although most of you probably never heard most of it, The Bee Gees continued to release new music throughout the 1980's and 1990's. (The Brothers Gibb ... always prolific songwriters ... kept afloat by writing songs for OTHER artists during this era, too ... Samantha Sang, Celine Dion, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand and baby brother Andy Gibb ALL enjoyed HUGE hits on the charts, supplied by the songwriting team of one or more of The Bee Gees brothers.)

One of my favorites, "You Win Again' SHOULD have been a much bigger hit than it was ... it peaked at #75 in 1987 but topped the charts in Great Britain. Then, in 1989, The Bee Gees scored their first U.S. Top Ten Hit in ten years when "One" went to #7.
Their last "official" Top 40 Record came in 1997 when "Alone" reached #28 on The Billboard Chart ... and it sounds as good as anything else they ever recorded during their "falsetto period" some twenty years earlier.

Finally, AGES ago we treated you to one of the tracks off the last album all three brothers recorded together, "This Is Where I Came In" from 2001. Maurice would leave us two years later. 

By the way, if you ever get the chance to see the "This Is Where I Came In" Bee Gees Documentary, try and catch it ... it's one of the best, most entertaining, well-done artist portraits I've ever seen. It was recently repackaged as a 2-DVD Set with their INCREDIBLE Concert Film "One Night Only" ... both WELL worth the musical investment!

You Win Again  





This Is Where I Came In 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Bee Gees - Part 2

It didn't really matter if you liked disco or not ... there was simply no escaping the music of "Saturday Night Fever" ... it was literally everywhere you turned.  The music of The Bee Gees' Disco Era was played to death ... it got to the point that radio actually used to promote "Bee Gees Free" Weekends to entice their listeners to tune in without fear of hearing those SAME songs over and over and over again.

Honestly, some of their disco stuff has worn pretty well ... tracks like "How Deep Is Your Love" and "Stayin' Alive" have proven to be amongst the strongest songs of the rock era.

Other hits like "Jive Talkin'", "Nights On Broadway", "You Should Be Dancing", "Night Fever" and "Too Much Heaven" still receive a fair amount of regular airplay ...

But when was the last time you heard "Love So Right" or "Love You Inside Out" on the radio??? Even LESS familiar would be something like "Boogie Child", which went all the way to #12 in 1977 and then vanished forever. (In all fairness, it's gotta be the weakest in the bunch!!!)

How 'bout "Edge Of The Universe" ... or our PERSONAL favorite "Fanny"???

You can't do a Bee Gees retrospective and leave out this all-important chapter in their career ... hopefully, we've picked a few of The Bee Gees' Disco Era songs that you're NOT already sick of and featured them today. (Some of you may already be experiencing "The Heebie-Bee Gees" this week!!!)
Give these a listen and let us know what you think!

Love So Right (#3, 1976)

Love You Inside Out  (#1, 1979 ... a #1 Record that rarely gets played!)

Boogie Child  (#12, 1977)

Edge Of The Universe (Live Single Version, #26, 1977)

And our personal favorite, Fanny (Be Tender With My Love)
#9, 1976

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Bee Gees

The Bee Gees' career can really be broken into four separate categories ... the first phase would include their early hits that crossed over to our charts in the late '60's like New York Mining Disaster 1941 (#14, 1967); To Love Somebody (#17, 1967); Holiday (#12, 1967); Massachusetts (#11, 1967); Words (#15, 1968); Jumbo (#40, 1968); I've Gotta Get A Message To You (#3, 1968); I Started A Joke (#6, 1969); First Of May (#18, 1969) and Tomorrow Tomorrow (#32, 1969), MOST of which you RARELY hear on the radio anymore ... despite the fact that nearly ALL of these were Top 20 Hits and considered classics at the time. (The focus on the Disco-Era of their career has virtually wiped away the memory of THESE lush productions from those early years.  In hindsight, this is even more peculiar when you consider that it was the Disco-Era Hits that caused all The Bee Gees backlash in the first place!)

After a very public break-up in 1969, they came back "Two Years On" and gave us back-to-back #1 Hits with Lonely Days and How Can You Mend A Broken Heart (both 1971). But their OTHER hits from this era: Don't Wanna Live Inside Myself (#39, 1971); My World (#15, 1972); Run To Me (#11, 1972) and Alive (#26, 1972) ... NEVER seem to get played anymore. (In all fairness, SOME of these really haven't aged very well ... in many cases, they're SO slow ... and lushly produced ... and repetitive ... that they just haven't been able to sustain any kind of lasting affection with most listeners.) This would be Phase Two of their 40+ year career.

Then, in 1975, all hell broke loose when The Bee Gees released their first disco track. Phase Three kicked off with a bang when Jive Talkin' went straight to #1 ... and for the next four years you literally couldn't turn on your radio and NOT hear a Bee Gees song. The soundtrack to "Saturday Night Fever" only helped to fuel the fire. In quick succession, The Brothers Gibb scored MONSTER hits with tracks like Nights On Broadway (#4, 1975); Fanny (#9, 1976); You Should Be Dancing (#1, 1976); Love So Right (#3, 1976); Boogie Child (#12, 1977); Edge Of The Universe (#26, 1977); How Deep Is Your Love (#1, 1977); Stayin' Alive (#1, 1978); Night Fever (#1, 1978); Too Much Heaven (#1, 1979); Tragedy (#1, 1979) and Love You Inside Out (#1, 1979).  
(And, for those of you keeping score, that was SIX straight #1 Records for The Brothers Gibb!)

Couple this with the hits they were writing and producing for other artists ... "Islands In The Stream" (#1) by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, "A Woman In Love", "Guilty" and "What Kind Of Fool", three straight Top Ten Hits for Barbra Streisand, "Heartbreaker" (#10) by Dionne Warwick, "Emotion" (#1) by Samantha Sang, "Grease" (#1) by Frankie Valli, not to mention a string of eight straight Top 20 Hits (including three #1's) for younger brother Andy and there was absolutely no escape ... the musical influences of The Brothers Gibb were everywhere.

And then the backlash hit. Suddenly The Bee Gees couldn't BUY a hit. Radio held Bee Gees-free weekends and jocks like Chicago's own Steve Dahl blew up disco records at baseball games!  Ridiculous (and erroneous) as it sounds, The Bee Gees were pretty much universally blamed for the entire disco era. As such, MOST of their releases were ignored for the next 20 years ... and that's a shame because there were some EXCEPTIONALLY good tunes written and recorded during this period (aka Phase Four).

Over the next few days, we're going to feature some Bee Gees tracks that you probably haven't heard in AGES ... some that you may have forgotten all about ... some that you maybe never heard at all during their radio black-out.

We kick it off today with "I Started A Joke" and "First Of May", both from 1969. When's the last time you heard THESE songs on the radio???

I Started A Joke  (#6)
(This was a HUGE hit ... SOMEBODY should be playing this!!!  It also just may be the quintessential Robin Gibb lead vocal ... and the one he's best remembered for in this early phase of The Bee Gees' career.)

First Of May  (#18)
(Here's a great, long-overlooked track.  You know the First of May is just around the corner ... maybe you could use THAT as an excuse to finally feature this one on your program!!!)

And, working our way into "Phase Two", here are two Top 20 Hits from 1972 that just NEVER seem to get played anymore ... 

My World (#15) 


Run To Me (#11)

It's really pretty amazing to think that, after barely speaking to each other for the better part of two years, "Phase Two" of The Bee Gees began in the studio one night when the brothers gathered to see if they could still write songs together.  They could ... in fact, they wrote two songs that night ... their first night together in ages ... "Lonely Days" and "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" were the fruits of their efforts ... and both records went on to top the charts!  By all appearances, The Bee Gees were back ... but it was pretty short-lived.  A few more ballads charted in 1972 but the band now seemed to be typecast as middle-of-the-road balladeers.  Who could have EVER guessed that the next time they'd top the charts would be with a whole, new R&B-flavored sound ... that eventually evolved into what most of the world now refers to as "The Dreaded Disco Era"!!!  (More Bee Gees music tomorrow in Forgotten Hits!)  kk

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Forgotten Hits Salutes The Bee Gees

Almost exactly three years ago to the day we ran a tribute to The Bee Gees on The Forgotten Hits Website, saluting some of their career highlights.  During the (main) course of this series, we featured some of their long, lost Forgotten Hits not played on the radio anymore as well as a few of our personal favorites that you may not be overly familiar with ... or very well may have never heard before ... simply because radio hasn't afforded much of their more recent material much in the way of airplay.

With Robin Gibb in a coma and near death, I thought it would be fitting to revisit some of this material this week. 

I'm not the least bit embarrassed to admit that Frannie and I have been life-long Bee Gees fans ... and we spent a good chunk of this weekend listening to their music and watching old videos and biographies of the band.  We are truly saddened by the imminent loss of yet another member of the talented Gibb family.

While they certainly have their legion of loyal fans, it is also safe to say that The Bee Gees have not been treated well by radio and the media over the years.  Despite this sad state of affairs, I am happy to report that as many times as they've been counted out, they have managed to come back with a great new sound that has captured our hearts time and time again.

If losing Robin proves to be the last chapter in The Bee Gees' legacy, they can go out knowing that they provided a lifetime of timeless, memorable music.

In one of the interviews we watched this weekend, it was a choked up Robin Gibb who told the camera that way back in 1967, when they were first being coached by new manager Robert Stigwood, they were advised not to write for today, but rather to write for 40 years from now.  "Don't focus on the current trend or fad in music," Stigwood told his young proteges, but "concentrate instead on a timeless sound that will still sound fresh and touch hearts many years from now."

Nearly five decades later, it is safe to proclaim that The Bee Gees have achieved this goal.  Their International Hit List rivals the very best that music has ever had to offer.  (We'll wrap this piece up later in the week with a recap of just how incredibly impressive this list really is.)

In 1998, The Brothers Gibb were asked to write a new song for the stage musical version of "Saturday Night Fever" ... something that could stand as the finale to the entire production.

What they came up with was a song called "Immortality" ... a song title all that more fitting today in light of Robin Gibb's current health condition.  Barry has already seen his younger brothers Andy and Maurice leave us ... and with a family bedside vigil now entering into its fifth day, we can only hope that he is at peace with Robin's current state of affairs.

Gibb says that the song had always been written with Celine Dion in mind to sing it ... and she recorded her version (with the three Bee Gees on backing vocals) later that same year.  Incredibly, it never even charted here in The States ... yet it seems more powerful than ever in light of Robin's current health situation.  (Celine's record went to #5 in Great Britain, where The Bee Gees continued to chart throughout their career ... I guess the fans there aren't quite as fickle as they are here in America!)

If you know this song, you already know just how powerful it is.  And, if you're not familiar with this song, you're in for an incredible performance.  Either way, just try to keep a dry eye.  The Bee Gees themselves couldn't do it during the recording session ... they had to stop the session numerous times because they were in tears ... it's that powerful of a tune. 

Immortality ... by Celine Dion (with The Bee Gees):

Monday, April 16, 2012

More Garage Band Suggestions

Actually, Mike's garage band definition really did help me out a bit ... 
I mean the fog is beginning to lift.  I am glad to know that the term was not used in the 60's as I was worried I had experienced a major black-out and the saying, "If you remember the 60's, then you weren't really there." was now applying to me.  Sound, as a pretty consistent basis in all music, is what we are going for.  Gotcha ... pretty much ... or at least better than before.  Thank you.
Shelley J. Sweet-Tufano 

Got this from Clark Weber, Program Director of WLS Radio back in the '60's, that begs to differ with the term "garage band" being used in the '60's ... read on ...
Hi Kent; 
Enjoyed the comments Mike Dugo and others have made regarding the “Garage Bands” of the 60’s. However I would have to disagree with the statement that those groups were not called “Garage Bands” at the time.  As both a DJ and the Program Director of WLS in the 60’s I did refer to them as Garage Bands when I chose their songs for airplay. Those first songs recorded by those local groups were by and large primitive and that was part of their charm. Their music was featured on the “WLS Extra Playlist” not so much for their musical skills, though they did show promise, but rather for their loyal fans who found another reason to listen to WLS. Those kids were marketing tools to gain listeners and, as a result of their exposure and fame, many of them grew to be top notched groups. A classic example of a “one car garage band” was Tommy James and the Shondells and “Hanky Panky. The first time I heard their song was at a beach party "record hop” in Michigan. Musically they were awful but they did grow. The same held true for so many “Garage Bands.” Whether they learned their skills in a rec room or among cans of 10W30 motor oil, they did evolve and many of them certainly made great music regardless of their roots.  
Clark Weber 

First things I thought of while reading Tuesday's Comments. Saw the group Love mentioned (7 plus 7 is). The Trashmen's recording of SURFIN' BIRD made it to number one here in OKC. Always did like their followup BIRD DANCE BEAT.
I liked Phil Nee's selections (particularly numbers 3, 8, 15, 23,) in that the songs they did that were listed. Finally, the group 5 x 5 had two big hits here in OKC, the aforementioned FIRE in 1968 and APPLE CIDER in 1969, both on Paula records.
And WLSClark was right about LOUIE LOUIE ... here in OKC, it peaked at #3 for the week of January 2, 1964, and it peaked at #1 for the week of September 2, 1965.
Larry Neal
I remember doing a piece on "Apple Cider" about ten years ago ... apparently a big local hit in several different areas of the country, but never enough at one time to ever allow it to crack the Top 100. (kk)   

I enjoyed the garage band coverage today. You highlighted several Chicago bands including the Cryan' Shames. Thought you might get a kick out of this short story.
I was in a band from about 1967 - 1971. When we first tried to think of a name we happened to look at their Sugar & Spice album. On the back it read "Cover photo taken at 'The Sweet Tooth' in Pipers Alley, Old Town, Chicago." Thus our band's name was born ... Pipers Alley. Toad & the boys inspired us musically and also gave us our name. We were just a garage band that worked out of Eau Claire for a few years ... never really had any success other than a ton of area gigs. I have attached one of our old posters just for giggles. I blocked out the phone number and address so the current residents aren't bothered.

LOL ... you guys look like you're about eleven years old in this picture!!!  Cool that you've hung on to this for all these years.  SO much of my stuff has been lost or destroyed over the decades thanks to moves, floods, etc.  Betcha this one makes you smile every time you look at it.  Thanks, Steve!  (kk)

Hey Kent,
I've been racking my brain to come up with a band that truly had that "recorded in a garage" sound. The band I came up with was The Surfaris, and their hit "Wipe Out". The flipside, "Surfer Joe", REALLY had that garage sound, didn't it? Summer is coming!
- John LaPuzza

How about these two:
HOT PASTRAMI by the Dartells?
HIPPY HIPPY SHAKE Swinging Blue Jeans?
I forgot who did the original "Hippy ...", but it's still noting the "British / U.K. Invasion" period for giving us a few "garage band" classics from "across the pond".
Tal Hartsfeld

Nashville seemed to produce quite a number of garage bands who were never heard out of the local area. The PBR song is perhaps the weakest lyric ever cut into vinyl.  The Feminine Complex were neighbors and classmates of mine from Maplewood High, and they were more a carport band and a basement band than a garage band.
David Lewis
In virtually every city, the middle-'60's produced a (new) wave of garage bands, pounding out the beat.  For every one that made it, there were dozens of others who scored a record deal ... but never a hit record ... and literally hundreds and hundreds more who, although packing the clubs every weekend, never saw the inside of a recording studio.
It was raw, spontaneous music ... feel-good stuff that captivated our classmates at all of our high school hops.  If you could do a reasonably fair representation of the hot songs of the day, you could probably land a job playing this music before a live audience ... and, most of the time, even get away with sneaking in a few original compositions, too.
It was an exciting time ... but short-lived ... music changed SO quickly in the '60's, maturing literally overnight to a more sophisticated sound.  There was so much experimentation going on ... and the competition to make it was never fiercer.  Records only stayed on the charts for a month or two back then ... and groups were often releasing as many as four or five singles per year ... and, in some cases, two or three LP's, too!
But there was just something about pounding these tunes out live at your frantic best that kept many of us young, hopeful wanna-bes going.  (kk) 

Actually, the most listener-friendly tune you sent me is probably this one ... the Anglo Saxon version of "Ruby", a Top Ten Hit for Kenny Rogers and the First Edition back in 1969.  (kk)

By copy of this note, Kent, all the NC6 guys, current and past, whose e-mail addresses I have (plus a handful of other important / interested parties), will know of the garage band “competition”.  Please cast my vote for us, and you can base it upon a film project that has yet to become reality and may never happen, but ... before the market crash in 2008 a representative for a combination effort by a world-renowned compilation record label and a major film studio had contacted me about flying to L.A. for a filmed interview as they were doing a documentary covering the history of garage rock and were going to include profiles on six bands they considered to be founders of and / or major contributors to the beginning of the genre --- one of them being the New Colony Six! 
I rest my case, yeronner.
Thanks for staying in touch, Kent; I still make time to check in at the site, but not enough to send comments.  Happy spring weekend to you, Frannie, Paige, and, of course, all my band mates / dear friends!     
Ray Graffia, Jr.
I've received quite a few votes for The New Colony Six so far ... including one from Craig Kempinksi, former keyboardist for the group.  I don't know if any of you guys had the chance to catch me on Dave The Rave's "Relics And Rarities" Show Saturday Night or not, but we played "I Lie Awake" as MY Garage Band "Pick Hit" ... and I told him the "Rhapsody In Blue" story.  (Any folks on the list that are not familiar with that?  Give a listen to the opening melody once the lyrics start on "I Lie Awake" ... it's The New Colony Six's tribute to the Gershwin classic "Rhapsody In Blue"!)  In fact, Dave told me to make sure to mention to Ronnie Rice that he plays all of his early, pre-NC6 cuts on his program, too.  (Hence the name, Relics and Rarities!!!)  Please pass the info along (as I know Ronnie doesn't "do" emails!!!  lol)
Dave also cast his vote not only for you guys, but also for Cherry Slush and Richard and the Young Lions.  Richard and the Young Lions charted once (for a week!) in 1966 with "Open Up Your Door" ... it peaked at #99! (lol) ... and they've actually earned 17 votes so far in our Favorite Garage Bands Poll.  Cherry Slush "bubbled under" with their only Billboard chart appearance ... "I Cannot Stop You" reached #119 in 1968.  (I remember first hearing their stuff when they appeared on Dave The Rave's program a few years ago.)  kk

I have gotten back to transferring my vinyl to mp3's and ran into a garage band for you. The Leaves. An L.A. band that hit #31 with "Hey Joe" in 1966. They also qualify for one hit wonders. 
Steve Hotvedt  
The Leaves are already among our leaders right now ... one of half a dozen acts with over 50 votes thus far.  But we'll cast another one for you right now!  Thanks, Steve!  (kk)  

PLEASE NOTE:  EVERY group mentioned today is eligible for your votes ... SO VOTE!!!  Several groups have already jumped out to a significant lead ... in a couple of weeks, we'll narrow down the list and let you know which artists are still eligible for your votes.  Then, based on this new "ballot", we'll ask all of you to vote again in an effort to determine the ULTIMATE Top 20 Garage Bands.  Stay tuned!  (kk)