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on 18 April 2017
This is the Bee Gees in their pre disco days back in the 1960's. Anyone into the music from the 60's will love this classic collection.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 December 2016
The Bee Gees, a band of four brothers with the surname Gibb, obviously went onto have many hits after 1969, and wrote countless other songs for countless artists of a diverse range who were very successful with them, but personally, my consistently favourite period of their work came at the start of their hugely successful contribution to the world of popular music. Because of that, this classic compilation album, the band's first ever, which was released in '69, is a personal favourite, containing a string of brilliant singles.

Highlights include 'I Started A Joke', which is beautiful, sentimental, and very apt (especially when Robin Gibb sang this with his ex wife Lulu, a few years before his death on her television 'Audience With'), the reflective 'I Started A Joke', the dreamy, atmospheric 'Massachusetts', the classic, much covered 'To Love Somebody', and 'Words', which was voted fourth in ITV's 'The Nation's Favourite Bee Gees Song' in 2011 ('Massachusetts' came third).

With simple arrangements, unmistakably done back in the 1960s, beautiful harmonic vocals, and strong song writing which spawned such timeless lyrics, it's very little wonder that the Bee Gees are so influential. Although they were to reinvent themselves rather brilliantly as the years went on (although I never cared for their 'Disco' period myself), this is where it all began for these siblings, and each folk-pop influenced track (12 in total) on this CD reissue has aged wonderfully. 'Best Of Bee Gees, Vol. 1' deserves it's place in any '60s fan's music collection.
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on 21 September 2001
I don't have this CD however I do have a rather wonderful, scratchy, double 'Best of the Bee Gees' LP. Included on the album are all of the above songs and what a bundle of gems they are. Forget the white disco sensation that the Bee Gees are [quite rightly] famed for, it's a far far cry from these beautifuly arranged, melodic and harmonious songs. With influences from the Beatles et al, the Brothers Gibb wrote some heavily soulful songs showing the early signs that they ARE to be reckoned with the best of our songwriters. Whilst the music and harmonies are glorious the lyrics are curiously unusual and not a little moribund - I started a joke//Which started the whole world crying//But I didn't see//That the joke was on me//I started to cry//Which started the whole world laughing//If only I'd seen//That the joke was on me//Til I finally died//Which started the whole world living. - perhaps indicating this was not a case of simple throw-away pop that was standard for that age. These songs have more that withstood the test of time, remaining as stunning today as they surely must have been at release. The Bee Gees went on to re-invent themselves several times with outstanding results [sometimes] and always with their trademark harmonic singing, but it's these tunes,I feel, that remain a testament to their outstanding [if oft mocked] talent.
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Released in 1969 when the three brothers were in the midst of a breakup, this collection represents not just the singles, but the very best they had to offer from four albums. While most of the songs are culled from "Bee Gees 1st" ("NY Mining Diaster 1941", "Holiday" and the much copied "To Love Somebody"), the rest are singles hits. There is the obvious omission of "Jumbo", a strange break in style for the group and the inclusion of their first international single "Spicks & Specks". When released as a CD, "Spick & Specks" was replaced by the overlooked ballad "Tomorrow, Tomorrow". So many artists have copied these songs it reaches into the hundreds and there is an urgency present that will make you nod your head in delight when you realize the incredible foresight that manager Robert Stigwood possessed. In the CD transition, Polydor had remastered "Spicks & Specks" into stereo, but held it back. With so many songs to be chosen, it's a wonder that most albums of that period were limited to twelve songs or why this CD was limited as well. Regardless, it reflects a fresh, crisp blooming of genius that few knew at the time would reach so far.
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This is a straight re-issue of their earliest hits compilation, containing most of their UK hits up to mid-1969. It stops just too soon to include either Saved by the bell (a Robin Gibb solo) or Don't forget to remember (my favorite Bee Gees song) but the can be found on volume 2
Their impact on the American charts in this period was somewhat patchy, but most of these reached the UK top ten, while Massachusetts and I've gotta get a message to you both topped the British charts. To love somebody was a huge UK hit for Nina Simone. On this collection, my favorite is First of May but Massachusetts, Words and World are not far behind. The songs cover a variety of themes - reflective songs, sad songs and even death songs. If you are looking for bright, cheerful music, you won't find a lot here.
Death songs were common in the sixties – remember Leader of the pack (Shangri-Las), Terry (Twinkle) and Tell Laura I love her, just to name a few – so the Bee Gees were just carrying on the tradition by recording the two that appear on this album. I've gotta get a message to you is about a man facing execution, trying to pass a final message to somebody. New York mining disaster 1941 is actually about a disaster elsewhere in the world, but changed to obscure its identity – I believe it may really be about a coal tip that caused a landslide on to a school in Aberfan in 1966. The actual lyrics only refer to a man searching for his wife after the landslide, so the song could be applicable to any landslide disaster, anywhere in the world. If it was about Aberfan, I can understand why the Bee Gees didn't want to put it in the song title when they were still looking for their first UK hit and Aberfan was still topical. The song gave them their first hit, peaking at twelve in the British charts.
The remainder of the album, though often reflective or sad, is not really that depressing. Massachusetts, for example, has brilliant, atmospheric music, so you may not take any notice of the lyrics.
There are many excellent songs here although many of them can be found on later compilations that also cover later aspects of their career. Great as they are, it is sometimes nice to be able to focus on one aspect of their career – in this case their sixties music. We still await a definitive collection of their folk-pop music but until then we have this and Best of Bee Gees volume 2.
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This 1969 collection by the Bee Gees proves that the 60s was the golden age of pop. Unlike most of today's chart fodder, this music has real emotional depth and originality. The haunting melodies, exquisite arrangements, soulful vocals and intelligent lyrics blend perfectly to create evocative songs of a timeless quality.
No wonder these compositions have been covered so often, by artists as diverse as Rita Coolidge (Words) and Janis Joplin (To Love Somebody). This elegant style of pop music couldn't be more different from the band's later (though equally appealing) dance excursions. My favorites include the yearning Gotta Get A Message To You, the poetic Words, the somber First Of May, the atmospheric Massachusetts, and the aching To Love Somebody.
The Bee Gees' vocal dexterity and magical songs stand out as the centerpiece of their successful career over more than four decades. For the complete picture, get Best Of Volume 2 as well. It's not as consistently strong as this one but offers many gems from around the same period. This album is an amazing listening experience and proof of just how good pop music used to be in those golden times.
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on 28 April 2006
This is a superb compilation of Bee Gees songs from the sixties-each a gem.I never liked their 'disco' era and although some of the songs from that time were good, they never matched those contained here.Gorgeous harmonies combined with fine lyrics make this a truely appealing set.

Real stand-out tracks are 'Massachusetts', 'Words' and 'First Of May', but all tracks are memorable.If you enjoy this you should check out 'Best Of Bee Gees Volume 2' which contains another selection of older classics.Highly recommended!
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on 28 August 2009
The Bee Gees were always far better when they first came into our lives. This 'Best Of' album thankfully excludes all the high pitched disco rubbish and instead concentrates of some really good - and often under-rated - songs.
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on 11 November 2013
I didn't grow up in the Sixties and missed out on these songs when they were first released, except perhaps as a subliminal childhood memory. However, I have a vague recollection of hearing this album on the car stereo of some friends we were staying with in Detroit during my first visit to the US in 1976, at the age of 16. I remember thinking then how good it sounded, even compared to the Beatles records we were playing on the same car journeys. So partly out of curiosity, but also with a sense of nostalgia, I decided recently to purchase this re-mastered CD version of the same album, on the off chance that it might be worth revisiting. What a revelation after a gap of 37 years (!) These songs have all effortlessly stood the test of time, confirming the view that, whilst your musical tastes may change during the course of a lifetime, your basic musical values don't. Songs like 'Massachusetts', 'First of May', and 'New York Mining Disaster 1941' remain timeless classics of Sixties popular music at its absolute best. In that respect, they bear comparison with the great Jimmy Webb songs written in the same period, as well as the prolific output of Bacharach and David.

Although clearly influenced by the Beatles, the early Bee Gees brought to their music a strong Atlantic soul influence, as well as a sense of spiritual yearning missing from much of the Beatles' and Rolling Stones' output from the same period. Stylistically, as well as lyrically, they are much closer in spirit to the Mamas and the Papas, and the strong spirituality present in many of these songs also evokes a natural comparison with the music of the Seekers. Surprisingly, perhaps, there is more than a hint of sadness and tragedy in these songs, but it is usually wrapped up in evocative lyrical symbolism that leaves the listener to work out what the source of unhappiness might be. (Listen to 'I started a joke', for example. Clearly a despairing song, but what exactly is it about? The lyrical content is quite surreal and well ahead of its time.) This was a brave thing to do in the context of the commercial environment of the late 1960s, and shows just how much healthier the record industry was at that time. It was music like this that prepared the ground for the more adventurous progressive rock in the decade that followed.

The surprise return to success of the Bee Gees as a quality disco act in the late 1970s makes it easy to forget these early, marvellous songs with their poignant, haunting melodies and unforgettable lyrics. 'Massachusetts', in particular - with its fabulous string arrangement and vocal harmonies - must surely rank as one of the greatest popular songs of the post-war period.
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on 30 November 2010
I borrow my title from the first part of the masterpiece of Todd Rundgren Something/Anything.
Actually that's perfectly the case : very gifted songwriters, more the tune than the lyrics.
Bob Dylan was not the model, much more the Beatles, the Beach Boys, who ask for more ?.
Back in England from Australia, suddenly they were there, example : a full Sunday afternoon on the French TV and it was before the worldwide hit Massachusetts.
Main thing in their music between Australia and the disco wave is their lovely melodies.
"The best of" from that time is good as greatest hits may be.
Before the Bee Gees first album: New York mining disaster 1941 (no! it's not a Bob Dylan tune) abstracts from that first LP and to follow : Massachusetts and nice tunes of Odessa.
Only missing here "Sir Geoffrey saved the word" and for me a special attraction for "Marley purt drive" (Odessa).
A bargain! A great opportunity to listen to one of the best times of the Brothers Gibbs.
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