Songwriters, record-makers, performers, the three Gibb brothers, Barry, Robin, and Maurice spent their lives since childhood in pop music. Never exactly rock and roll, rhythm and blues, country, standard ballads, progressive or art rock, or anything else, by following their musical instincts they created a body of work that blends a little of everything, true to the 1960s ideal of musical cultural fusion.
The brothers’ performing unit was the Bee Gees. Sometimes over the years this name included additional members, Alan Kendall or Vince Melouney on guitars, Blue Weaver on keyboards, Dennis Bryon or Geoff Bridgford or Colin Petersen on drums. As important as it is the Bee Gees account for only about half the songs created by the Gibb brothers. Since the beginning of their careers, Barry, Robin, and Maurice have ‘given away’ many quality songs to be recorded only by other artists, many times participating in the recording process as producers or backing singers and musicians.
For their late 1960s work alone, the Bee Gees deserved their inclusion in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. From their first English album in 1967, they were completely in tune with the times and were one of the most popular young bands in Britain and Europe, and had some successes in America.
It is for their rhythm and blues ‘disco’ period in the late 1970s that the Bee Gees are best known today, especially in America where they owned the top ten with the songs from Saturday Night Fever and the songs Barry worked on for their much younger brother Andy. Barry’s falsetto and the dance beat of some of their hits stick in the popular consciousness as the Bee Gees sound. Despite some experiments with drum loops and early synthesizers, compared to pop music many years on this was a rock band, with real drums, bass guitar, and rhythm guitar chugging away, and songs and production by the group themselves, not some corporate machine.
But as always with the Bee Gees, if you don’t like that, try another album. Fans have different favorites. The weak album in one fan’s view, or the awful song, is to some other fan a great album or song full of meaning. It’s not necessary to agree. Records are timeless, and if you want the Bee Gees of a certain year or period, you can always have them.
The present work started on the web as the Brothers Gibb Song Catalog in 1994. It was rewritten as Gibb Songs in 2000, and was rewritten again as Gibb Songs version 2 in 2006. The purpose has remained the same: to chronicle all the songs written, recorded, and produced by Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb, as the Bee Gees and otherwise.
Most fans collect the Bee Gees recordings and usually the solo releases as Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, and Maurice Gibb. Achieving a complete set of those recordings is a daunting task given the large number of songs and record releases, and a checklist of recordings as given here is essential in identifying what to look for in the second hand market. It also increases understanding and appreciation of the music to see how any song or album fits into the larger picture of their career.
It’s notoriously hard to follow the careers of songwriters because record business publicity is almost all centered on the performing artist. Aside from a few high-profile entire albums they produced for top artists, the Gibb songs that have appeared only on other artists’ records can be very obscure. I appreciate the input from many fans who have shared their discoveries for these pages. Many of the entries for these songs have brief comments on the music, for the benefit of the majority of fans who have never heard them.
Then there are the songs noted as no record or unreleased on these pages. In some cases, versions of these have slipped out and become hotly traded tapes and sometimes bootleg CDs. Many more of these songs have never been heard by more than a few people, and are known to exist solely from documentation like song copyrights or tape vault lists. These are tantalizing, especially because many of the songs that have slipped out are very good. The long-awaited reissue series with previously unreleased tracks from the archives finally began in late 2006 with The Studio Albums 1967-1968 and continued at the start of 2009 with Odessa— but then, for reasons not disclosed, it stopped.
I dedicate these pages to Gibb fans everywhere. I hope they add to your enjoyment of the music of these talented artists.
on to Guide