Released after three hitless years, by the time Main Course came out in 1975 most people thought the Bee Gees were dead and gone. After recording some of the most startling pop music of the late 60s and early 70s the Gibb brothers were struggling to get hits when previously they had been dominating the charts with classics like NY Mining Disaster, To Love Somebody, Words, I've Gotta Get A Message and How Can You Mend A Broken Heart. They needed revitalisation and they got it with a move to Miami and famed Atlantic producer Arif Mardin. On Main Course Mardin encouraged the Bee Gees to explore their soul roots without completely forgetting the balladeering that had taken them to the top in the first place. What began as Barry screaming in tune for adlibs became the famous Bee Gees falsetto in the process and before they knew the group was selling out concert halls across the States for the first time since the late sixties. Main Course produced three immediate hits with an unmistakable R&B influence: Jive Talkin', Nights On Broadway and the joyous Fanny Be Tender. The wonderfully bizarre Edge Of The Universe was also to become a hit off their live album while the country Come On Over became a big hit for Olivia Newton-John. Five classics from one album was not a bad effort. More than 25 years since its release Main Course still stands as the finest Bee Gees' album, a mighty achievement against the likes of the brilliant First, Odessa, Spirits Having Flown, One and Size Isn't Everything. It revitalised a stagnant band, encompassed every musical style from rock, to R&B, to country, to pop. Exquisitely sung in true Gibb style, this album is the definitive Bee Gees album and one of the landmarks of the 1970s.
This is an important album for those seeking to understand the Bee Gees' musical progression. This is the crossover album where songs which remain faithful to their late sixties and early seventies periods meet the new R&B sound, as they called it in the mid seventies.
Without doubt 'Jive Talkin' is the show stopper which along with 'Nights on Broadway' really made the public sit up and take notice of the change. Whereas 'Come On Over' and 'Country Lanes' are examples of the country-inspired ballads the Bee Gees favoured on previous releases.
'Songbird', 'Fanny' and 'Baby As You Turn Away' are as beautiful today, as they are timeless; and stand as testimony to the talents of the Bee Gees. Is it any wonder that their records go on selling years after they were made?
Buy 'Main Course' to hear the songs in their original context. It's well worth reliving the experience!
In the spring of 1975, a producer named Robert Stigwood sent thousands of copies of a single with no artist's name on them, with a title called "Jive Talkin'". It was an immediate hit and people wanted more. Remember, that in 1967, Mr. Stigwood pulled this same stunt with "New York Mining Disaster 1941", teasing the public into thinking it was the Beatles trying to see if they could make it under a different band title. The resulting surprise was that it was the Bee Gees; that tear-jerking, ballad writing trio that had faded into an old record collection that millions of record buyers owned. "Jive Talkin'" went to #1. "Night On Broadway" followed with two versions - one with the slow bridge and one without. "Fanny (Be Tender With My Love)" was the third hit off the album. This latter one being a studio gem, but virtually UN-singable in public due to the intense over layered vocal work. Being a 'single' oriented group in the past, the Bee Gees had finally crafted an album worthy of all ten songs being memorable. "Wind Of Change" was actually the first demo sent to Stigwood, but became a concert staple instead with it's strong beat and funky rhythm. If you still longed for the old Bee Gees sound, "Songbird" fits the bill (no pun intended). It's as strong a love ballad as any they have had in the past. "Country Lanes" is nearly an anthem in it's perseverance of commitment to a lover. "Edge Of The Universe" and "All This Making Love" are, admittedly, novelty songs, but "Baby, As You Turn Away" is a grand finale. What better way to also compliment your latest album production than to have another artist (Olivia Newton-John) make a hit out of "Come On Over"? Given the times, the music and the variety, Main Course is no doubt one of the most important albums the Bee Gees have had in their roller coaster career.
I had been looking for this album for ages as have on vinyl. It took me right back to the 70's to when I played this over and over again. Jive Talkin' was the first Bee Gees single ever bought and that is where the love affair started. I love All This Making Love it is a funny and amusing song. Come on Over is one of my favourites I love the lyrics. Wind of Change with Barry's fantastic vocals and Robin's haunting voice in Walking in a Country Lanes. Barry Gibb was a gorgeous man back then...I wanted to marry him....he still is still lovely as took my daughter to see him in Manchester last year, she is 30 and said one of the best concerts she had ever been to. Fabulous album.
I can't really add much to the comments already given here. Like many people I have grown up on the greatest hits albums of the Bee Gees and had no idea that the band had written quality albums full of beautiful songs. How wrong I was. This album is a revelation. Most people will know the likes of Nights on Broadway and Jive Talking but as on all classic albums the hit singles are surpassed by the quality elsewhere. My favourites are actually Country Lanes, All This Making Love and Wind of Change but I defy anyone to hear this album and not be amazed at the quality in depth of the song writing and musicianship displayed here. Buy it!
In many ways 'Main Course' marks a meeting of the old big ballad influenced Bee Gees with the new R+B/soul style they were beginning to incorporate into their sound. While it is true to say this was also true to a point with their previous album 'Mr Natural', with 'Main Course' the R+B/soul has a greater sense of purpose in addition to the music having a greater focus generally. 'Main Course' is possibly the Bee Gees best album because it has something for everyone from the longstanding Bee Gees fans to a new audience who may be a little more contemporary minded. 'Songbird', 'Country Lanes', and 'Come On Over' are old style Bee Gees songs of a very high order while 'Edge Of The Universe' and 'All This Making Love' have synthesizer and vaudevillian influences. However, it's the R+B/soul influenced material which makes the biggest impression. Being early efforts in this new genre, the Bee Gees show a little more restraint with 'Nights On Broadway', 'Jive Talkin'' and 'Wind Of Change' than they would later on. The songs have a harder sound with an emphasis on basic drums, bass and synthesiser than would be the case with their later, more fully developed disco inspired sound. Some listeners may find this style a great deal more palatable without the prominant use of falsetto which would reach its climax with 'Spirits Having Flown'. Possibly the fine ballad 'Fanny (Be Tender With My Love)' makes for the best example of the next step in the Bee Gees sound. Of course everybody has their own musical preferences when it comes to a group like the Bee Gees whether ballads, R+B, pop, disco etc. What separates 'Main Course' from the Bee Gees follow up albums 'Children Of The World' and 'Spirits Having Flown' and the amazingly successful soundtrack album 'Saturday Night Fever' is it's a lot more diverse and caters for all tastes, before the Bee Gees became exclusively involved in the R+B/disco sound. 'Main Course' also marks the final time fans would get to hear Robin sharing lead vocal duties frequently with Barry. During the disco era Barry would sing lead almost exclusively on all tracks (with the odd exception, perhaps). 'Main Course' ultimately stands as one of the Bee Gees finest efforts.
Got this on vinyl in the 70s and after seeing a re-run of a concert on TV recently I decided to revisit it. I recall the media response to this at the time being on the same lines as when, a few years earlier, the Beach Boys produced Surfs Up and then Holland, and showed with some force that they really could get off the beach and make some thoughtful and intricate music.
Same here then, after all the “hits” (albeit some great songs amongst them ) it was really hard for me to accept that this was really the same Bee Gees. Apart from the hallmark falsetto from Barry and the strident tones of Robin still being to the fore, this was, for me, a whole new animal, great harmonies, thoughtful lyrics and musicianship. Yes, the unadventurous drumming and the trebly guitar all anchor it firmly as a 1970s production but that is exactly what it was.
This one put the boys back on top and they stayed there for years to come. They were huge international stars and then this period of music began. The two hits here 'nights on broadway' and 'jive talkin' were danceable and that's the direction that would lead them into the stratosphere, and lets be honest disc is five times better than rap or hip hop will ever be. But the bee gees on this one are rock and good rock at that. They do it right on this cd. It's a good one to own with well crafted songs of a master group. Sadly only one of the brothers is left, even andy is long gone. Btt their music lives on.