- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 23, 2013

It’s the first anniversary of the death of Robin Gibb this week. Robin Gibb was a British singer and songwriter best known as a founding member of the Bee Gees with brothers Maurice Gibb and Barry Gibb. Despite battling colon cancer and a blocked intestine for the last few years of his life, Robin Gibb ultimately died of kidney failure. The Bee Gees music spanned three decades beginning in the 1960s. Robin Gibb’s ethereal voice has gone, but the Bee Gees music lives on. This week, the List looks at the top 20 Bee Gees tunes.

  • 20. “Words” — This 1968 song was originally written by the Bee Gees for Cliff Richard, but the brothers decided to record it themselves. Barry sings the lead and Robin doesn’t appear to sing at all. Said Robin: ” ‘Words’ reflects a mood. It was written after an argument.” It reached No. 15 in the United States and No. 8 in the United Kingdom.
  • 19. “Lonely Days” — This Beatlesque song was the band’s first top-five hit in America, where it reached No. 3 in 1970. It bombed in the U.K.
  • 18. “Run To Me” — This song was the lead single for the 1972 album “To Whom It May Concern” and produced some of the best harmonies from the brothers. It reached No. 16 in the U.S. and No. 9 in the U.K.
  • 17. “I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You” —Robin Gibb wrote the lyrics to this poignant song about a wife trying to get a message to her condemned husband awaiting execution. The song’s three-part harmony is excellent. In September of 1968, it became the band’s second No. 1 single in the U.K. It reached the No. 8 spot in the U.S.
  • 16. “You Win Again” — This song from the “E.S.P.” album didn’t register in the U.S., but became No. 1 in the U.K. in 1987, where it made the Bee Gees the first group to score a No. 1 hit in each of three decades: the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
  • 15. “Jive Talkin’ ” — In 1975, the Bee Gees were now living in Miami, and this song was recognized as the band’s “comeback” song. The tune went to No. 1 in 1975 in the U.S. and was the band’s first top-10 song since 1971. Barry Gibb said the inspiration for the song came from the sounds the car made crossing the Julia Tuttle Causeway as the band traveled each day from Biscayne Bay to the recording studios in Miami.
  • 14. “Holiday” — A haunting song with Robin Gibb on the lead vocals, it reached No. 16 in the U.S. in 1967, but was not released as a single in the U.K. It has always been a concert favorite. The song was featured in the Korean murder film “Nowhere To Hide.”
  • 13. “(Our Love) Don’t Throw It All Away” — This song was written by Barry Gibb and Blue Weaver (Amen Corner, Strawbs) and released as a single in 1978 for the Bee Gees‘ younger brother Andy Gibb. It reached No. 9 on the Billboard charts. An excellent version of the song appears on the Bee Gees 1997 “One Night Only” album with Andy’s voice blended in during part of the song.  
  • 12. “Too Much Heaven” — A delicate and graceful song with a wonderful vocal arrangement, the song is dominated by Barry Gibb’s amazing falsetto voice. It appeared on the “Spirits Having Flown” album, which sold 20 million copies. The single hit No. 1 in the U.S. in November 1978. The rights to the song was given to UNICEF.
  • 11. “Tragedy” — This hit from the “Spirits Have Flown” album reached No. 1 on both sides of the Atlantic in 1979 and epitomized the height of the band’s rhythm-and-blues period. The British band Steps had a No. 1 hit in the U.K. with the song in 1998.
  • 10. “Massachusetts” —Robin Gibb sang the lead on this touching and haunting ballad. This 1967 song was the band’s first No. 1 in hit in the U.K. It only reached the No. 11 spot in the U.S. The band at that time had never been to the United States. Said Robin Gibb: “We have never been there, but we loved the word, and there is always something magic about American place names.”
  • 9. “How Deep Is Your Love” — The Bee Gees wrote this song for the 1977 “Saturday Night Fever” movie. The movie soundtrack went on to sell 30 million. It was the first of six consecutive No. 1 hits in America and for a while the Bee Gees were the biggest band in the world. The British boy band Take That had a No. 1 hit in the U.K. with the song in 1996.
  • 8. “Stayin’ Alive” — This high-pitched classic could be the quintessential disco song of all time. It appeared on the soundtrack of the John Travolta film “Saturday Night Fever.” The Bee Gees defined the sound of the 1970s and influenced the disco era.
  • 7. “Alone” — This 1996 pop ballad with a Beatlesque-type flavor is an excellent song. It was the key tune from the “Still Waters” album. It was a No. 5 hit in the U.K. and reached the No. 28 spot in the U.S. becoming the band’s last top 40 hit in America. The song is noted for the use of bagpipes.
  • 6. “Spicks and Specks” — This was the Bee Gees first big hit reaching No. 1 in Australia in 1966. It didn’t register in the U.S., but came in at No. 9 on the U.K. charts; No. 2 in the Netherlands; and No. 1 in New Zealand. The success of the song led the band to move back to England. It’s a notable song, previewing the talent of the band with Barry Gibb leading on the vocals.
  • 5. “You Should Be Dancing” — This song, which launched the Bee Gees disco era, is noted for Barry Gibb’s trademark falsetto voice. It first appeared on the “Children of the World” album in 1976 and a year later on the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack. The single was the band’s third No. 1 in the U.S.
  • 4. “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” — This 1971 song was originally offered to Andy Williams. The song became the band’s first No. 1 hit in the U.S. The song won an award in 2012 from Broadcast Music Inc (BMI) for 5 million total plays on U.S. radio and TV.
  • 3. “Immortality” — This spiritual and moving song was written by the Bee Gees for Celine Dion and appeared on her “Let’s Talk About Love” in 1998, with the Bee Gees singing in the background. It was a big hit outside the U.S., reaching No. 5 in the U.K. The best version is the live rendition on the “One Night Only” album recorded at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in 1997 with Miss Dion making a special guest appearances.  
  • 2. “Islands in the Stream” — Written by the Bee Gees, this song was a huge No. 1 hit for Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers in 1983 and was the first single from Mr. Rogers “Eyes That See in the Dark” album. The Bee Gees originally wrote it for Marvin Gaye. An excellent live version of the song appears on the Bee Gees‘ 1997 “One Night Only” album.
  • 1. “I Started a Joke” — This melancholic tune, written and sung by Robin Gee, is probably one of the best ballads by the Bee Gees in their classical period. It reached No. 5 in the U.S. in 1969. Said Robin Gibb in 2009: “This is a very spiritual song. The listeners have to interpret it themselves. Trying to explain it would detract from the song.”

Bonus track: “Nights on Broadway” — This song introduced the world to Barry Gibb’s amazing falsetto voice. Producer Arif Mardin asked Barry to scream, and the singer realized he could scream in tune. He began to sing higher and higher and eventually in falsetto. The song reached No. 7 in the U.S.

Compiled By John Haydon
Sources: Associated Press, Songfacts.com and Wikipedia.