I originally thought today’s album would be the #1 seller for 1977, but due to it’s late in the year release, it was actually the #1 selling album for 1978. It’s time to dance, as we have the famous soundtrack to the movie “Saturday Night Fever”. This album is most prominently known for the hits from the Bee Gees, which I do love. That being said, it is a double album with a lot of other material as well. A defining album for the late 1970s, the disco craze was real and I remember this album always being on at my next-door neighbors, who had five kids of various ages older than me. This record is rated #162 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. As I already observed, this is a double album of disco music, which other than the Bee Gees, I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into. Without any further delay, let’s boogie right in.
The album starts with perhaps the most well-known of these many big hits, “Stayin’ Alive”. Not only is this a legendary song on its own, I have heard it merged into a mashup with AC/DC’s “Back in Black”, and I even heard the Dave Matthews Band play that exact mashup in concert. Like many of the Bee Gees’ songs, Barry Gibb absolutely riffs out in his falsetto at the end of the song. Next comes the soft classic ballad “How Deep is Your Love”. Not only is this a beautiful melody, I’m particularly partial to this as it was one of two primary “go to” songs for my son’s a capella career at Amherst College. If you are so inclined, here is a link to that very performance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-9mhS7TvOs
The Bee Gees just keep on crushing it, with “Night Fever” and “More Than A Woman”, both of which were also huge hits from this album. They even wrote the next hit, “If I Can’t Have You”, another huge hit that was performed by Yvonne Elliman, who once appeared on the “Jesus Christ Superstar” soundtrack. So, I think you can see the problem here… we have four album sides of disco music, and I feel like we have already had every hit from this album… with three sides left to go. Where do we go from here?
First is “A Fifth of Beethoven”. I don’t think I have heard this song in 40 years, but I did love this creative disco take on Beethoven music. Next, we have a repeat of “More Than A Woman”, except it is performed by the group Tavares. An interesting alternate take you may not be familiar with. From here, it starts to wobble a bit more. We have “Manhattan Skyline” by David Shire, which is pretty bland dance music, and “Calypso Breakdown”, all 7:48 of it, isn’t much better. “Night On Disco Mountain” sounds more like disco horror movie music, helping to illustrate why the Bee Gees, and not David Shire, got famous from this record. Is this album over yet? The good news is that we have a Kool & The Gang song. The bad news is it is more disco horror movie music on the song “Open Sesame”. This is not getting better.
Just as things were looking really bleak, the Bee Gees come to the rescue with “Jive Talking”, which is awesome, and we have more safe ground with yet another Bee Gees hit, “You Should Be Dancing”. I now have hope that I’m going to make it to the end. That hope stays alive with none other than KC & The Sunshine Band and one of their funkier tracks, “Boogie Shoes”. A few weeks ago, my son and I debated whether or not this was in fact KC… he was right, I was not.
Sadly, this hot streak comes to an end with more David Shire, on “Salsation”. To be fair, most of these songs are likely background music at best. That doesn’t make it any easier to listen to it. The mood lifts a bit with “K-Jee” by MFSB, and we finally reach the finish line with the disco classic, “Disco Inferno”, by The Trammps. Another guilty disco pleasure, the only problem have here is that this version is 10:50 long. I get it, this must be when Tony Manero really earns his keep on the dance floor. If I actually add this song to my playlist, I will have to find the edited single version.
We made it… 2 records, 4 sides, 17 songs of disco magic from late 1977. As a collection of Bee Gees greats, this record is timeless. I will probably skip the filler material in the future, but as always, I am happy I finally took the time to listen to this entire record from beginning to end.