Has it really been 50 years? After `Greatest Hits', `Number 1s', `Love Songs', `Greatest Hits: The Record' and `The Very Best Of' issued in the last decade comes another compilation of Bee Gees songs, this time in celebration of that anniversary, the misnomer triple disc `The Ultimate Bee Gees'. (Okay, the first of the others mentioned was a reissue with some unreleased remixes added, but all bar six of the songs on this current package are available on those previous CDs, and four of those six are 'in concert'.) As with every 'hits' compendium - and let's be honest, this is what this is - there will always be those asking why certain tracks are missing and others included, and `Ultimate' is no different, which is why I believe it has a misleading title.
However, though you can get a two-disc version, this deluxe edition has another disc included. Most people will have the 40 songs on a variety of releases but it's that third disc where things become interesting. Actually, it's a DVD containing eighteen tracks from November 1966 through to 1997 but not, surprisingly, in chronological order, something of which the audio discs are equally culpable. Of those eighteen videos, the final ten are regular promo clips with six regularly shown on a multitude of music channels and the ones for 'Alone', 'Still Waters', 'One' and 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' being less common. But it's the first half of this DVD which proves the most fascinating. `Spicks and Specks' is from Australian television and has a slightly extended middle, `New York Mining Disaster' is a promo that sees Barry wearing a jacket three sizes too big, `Message' is from the Idea TV Special (no, me neither); `Tomorrow Tomorrow' and `Lonely Days' are both promo films but the latter has an entirely different vocal to that found on CD, `How Can You Mend A Broken Heart' is from a Roger Whittaker show called, as it says in the accompanying booklet, Whitaker's World of Music (sic) and has a live vocal, whilst `Run to Me' is a mimed performance from a US TV show, In Sessions. The final video of `Massachusetts' is the one from the Christmas edition of Top of the Pops from 1967 and is something you may have already seen. The quality on the early stuff is a bit scratchy, which is probably as expected, but that in no way distracts from their value. It will be a very short line when those who have actually seen these form a queue.
Yes, there has to be commercial prospects considered with anything but to call something ultimate when it isn't is just silly. Though some of this sounds as if it has been remastered, studio and live tracks have never been attractive bedfellows and the three that are tagged onto the second CD (plus the one on CD1) are out of place. Use the studio versions! There is one caveat with this package. Whatever blurb you may read, this is not a `box set' at all. For those expecting something along the lines of `Tales from the Brothers Gibb', or even `Odessa', be prepared for a disappointment; it's a fold out cardboard sleeve inside a cardboard slipcase.
So, in a nutshell. If you're a diehard Bee Gees fan, get this for the DVD; if you're not, get it anyway. The music is superb!
on 12 January 2013
I have been looking for the ultimate Bee Gees album and after lots of research believe this to be it. Forty tracks on two CD's that take you down memory lane and are recommended for any fan of the Bee Gees. The album is well priced by Amazon, far cheaper than the high street, or other online stores, and was delivered ahead of schedule. My only complaint is that the case was broken on arrival, badly handled by the couriers with a foot print clearly visible on the cardboard box. Double cases are difficult to obtain so I guess it's time to transfer them all into a protective box and scrap the cases.
Amazon pricing and product. 5 stars
Courier.(D*L) Minus 5 stars
on 5 December 2015
all the most memorable songs by the bee gees, this collection represents good value, and is most enjoyable, full of all the disco hits from the past, including songs from the movies Saturday Night Fever, and will have you singing and tapping your feet if you are a Bee Gees fanatic.
What more can I say, bring out the wine, turn down the lights, and relive those moments all over again.
For having so many greatest hits packages, the first question is why another? 2009 is the 50th Anniversary of the Bee Gees and the first time they announced that they would, after all, reunite as the Bee Gees. When Maurice Gibb passed away in 2003, it was declared the Bee Gees were over and Barry and Robin went their separate ways. This is a celebration.
The nicest surprise is that fans are now given an official video disc of 18 of the Bee Gees more popular songs. "Spicks & Specks" is the original grainy black and white version, but "New York Mining Disaster 1941" is a rare clip, interspersing montages of children and coal miners which is a more direct reference to the lyrics. "Tomorrow, Tomorrow" represents the year the Bee Gees temporarily lost Robin but is a great song from their TV special "Cucumber Castle" and a nice addition even if a bit fuzzy. "For Whom The Bell Tolls" is one of their under appreciated gems and this video is one of their best (I miss "When He's Gone" as a video). "Still Waters Run Deep" is a rare video in that it is the single version of the song with an electronic harpsichord (not the album version). However, the most professional video has to be "Alone" with its images over the years spliced into the song.
The sound is far superior to all previous releases (other than the videos), including Tales from the Brothers Gibb and The Bee Gees - Their Greatest Hits: The Record. It appears that `most' of the songs chosen were all in the Top Twenty either in the USA or the UK. This makes for a nice Anniversary Edition, even if you already own most of these songs. The box is (as most are nowadays) a cardboard foldout with a slipcase. But the insert has a nice write-up from Sir Tim Rice with some photos of the group as they progressed over the last fifty years. Its not extensive, but gives enough information to sum up the Bee Gees career (so far).