'Spirits Having Flown' is quite probably the one Bee Gees album that divides listeners more than any other and it all comes down to whether or not one is appreciative of the Bee Gees excessive use of falsetto. Falsetto was certainly nothing new for the Bee Gees as by the year of 'Spirits Having Flown's release in 1979 they had been incorporating it into their sound for the past four years (including 'Saturday Night Fever'). With 'Spirits Having Flown', however, they take it to its furthest extreme which although effective more often than not nevertheless makes the album a little hard to swallow for some listeners.
Falsetto aside, 'Spirits Having Flown' is a fine album with a number of highlights particuarly in the first half of the album ('Tragedy','Too Much Heaven', Love You Inside Out', 'Reaching Out' and 'Spirits (Having Flown')) which really does represent the Bee Gees in their prime. If the second half isn't as successful that's not necessarily to say it isn't good. 'Search Find', 'Living Together' and 'I'm Satisfield' are still solid tracks even if they are comparatively slight and 'Until' is a rare ballad sung in Barry's natural voice. It's only on another ballad 'Stop Think Again' where Barry's falsetto begins to sound like a serious misstep and the only time in my opinion when some of the mocking impersonations seem, perhaps, slightly justified.
'Spirits Having Flown' is really more pop influenced than disco. Nevertheless it does also represent the closing of a chapter in the Bee Gees history which had opened with 'Main Course' and ran through 'Children Of The World' and the frenzied 'Saturday Night Fever'. In many ways it marked the end of the 'fever' period as a backlash was beginning to develop as Barry, Robin and Maurice began to look for other ways to express themselves which usually meant writing and arranging for other artists.
Whatever its perceived faults, 'Spirits Having Flown' remains a fine album.