This might be outdated, a relic of a bygone age, or a warning to the future about the dangers of bad taste…but you can’t deny it’s full of good songs.
I’ve never had a problem with Saturday Night Fever. I’ve never found myself stealing the show on a multicolour, lighted dancefloor, but I’ve often found myself strutting down the street eating a slice of pizza and carrying a can of paint. The film itself is very good, and much darker than anybody gives it credit for, but for me the one thing that has stood the test of time is the soundtrack. A hundred years from now, if an enquiring mind asked what ‘disco’ was, the fastest way to show them would be to play them this soundtrack and show them the album cover.
I really struggled to choose a hidden gem for this album. It’s full of them. I used to like Fifth Of Beethoven by Walter Murphy, but it’s sort of been done to death by every film or TV show which wants to juxtapose any staid environment with an incredibly funky song.
The inclusion of The Trammps’ Disco Inferno and K.C. & The Sunshine Band’s Boogie Shoes gives the many, many Bee Gees songs a run for their money – particularly Night Fever and Jive Talkin’ (sounding more in its right place here than it ever did on Main Course) which are both fantastic; but it is Ralph McDonald’s Calypso Breakdown that I like the best. The lead guitar breaks in the first half of the song are great, and purely as a piece of soundtrack it’s used in one of my favourite parts of the film. I challenge anybody not to move their hips when they hear this song.
I’ve always had a soft spot for The Bee Gees (I know they don’t favour the definitive article in front of their name, but it’s grammatically annoying not to slide one in there). We used to live a couple of streets away from where they grew up in Chorlton, Manchester (between them being born on the Isle Of Man and being shipped out to Australia). They seem to offend a lot of people by their very existence, but I think their early-falsetto output between Jive Talkin’ and the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack are notable enough to ignore their other crimes against music.
I almost went to see Robin Gibb when he played in New Zealand just before he died. I was all set to buy myself a ticket until I read an interview he did to promote the show, in which he claimed that the music of The Bee Gees was more relevant than The Beatles, and had stood the test of time better. By the time I had stopped laughing, the concert had been and gone. I then felt like I’d missed out because he died not long after. In a bizarre twist of fate, newspaper articles over the last couple of weeks have all but claimed that New Zealand killed Robin Gibb – by flying over to play in New Zealand, he missed medical scans which may have prolonged his life.
I recently watched a documentary on the band, and Maurice really comes across as the most affable of the three. Barry really is the alpha lion of the pride, and Robin speaks only when he is given chance, but Maurice actually sounds like a genuinely nice bloke.
I bought this recently, really as research for a piece of writing I’m working on, thinking it would be terrible, but it’s actually pretty good. This is Ringo’s first solo album – the first Beatles solo album in fact, not including live or avant-guarde releases – and is comprised of old standards arranged by the likes of Paul McCartney, George Martin, Maurice Gibb and Elmer Bernstein. Mostly it’s big band arrangements, with Ringo doing his best to croon over the top of them.
This might give me a bit of confidence to listen to his second album – Beaucoups Of Blues – again, although I’m not sure my initial opinion of that will change much. Maybe it will.
You have to wonder what teenybopper Beatles fans would have made of this, and its country follow-up. ‘Disappointed’ is a word that I’m sure would have been bandied about. Three weeks after this came McCartney and that’s so home-made it almost sounds like a demo recording. It wouldn’t be until much later in the year, when Harrison released All Things Must Pass that one of them released something that sounded vaguely Beatle-ly.