Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on December 1st, 2010
Most people remember the Bee Gees from their disco days and Saturday Night Fever. They sold a lot of records and achieved more fame than at any time in their careers. But the Brothers Gibb had been performing since the 1950′s as children. They would headline automobile races and appear on local radio and television shows. They would quickly gain attention for their harmonies and eventually for their own songs. By 1967 they had begun to gain international attention, appearing on the national rock-and-roll shows. The brothers would become known then for their power ballads and love songs. Hits like “Words” and “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” put their particularly unique voices on the charts around the world. But by the 1970′s the sound was already beginning to fade. The Beatles had broken up, and the era of the vocal bands appeared to have died, at least for a time. They saw their stardom plummet almost overnight.
Then came the disco scene and the movie that launched both the Bee Gees and John Travolta into instant superstardom. The album of the film’s soundtrack would go on to be the best selling album in history until Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” came along. Before anyone knew it the world was in a disco frenzy, and for many of us who grew up in the 1970′s, music died for a while.
I know I’m likely to be in the minority here, at least according to the band’s sales. But I was a much bigger fan of the Bee Gees before they turned on the disco. The ballads might have been a little sappy, but the sound was unique enough and it really wasn’t quite like anything else out there. But the band rode the wave of a huge fad. It might not have lasted very long, but it pulled in the bucks for the bands that could capitalize upon it. Even artists like ELO and Elton John took runs at the genre. But the Bee Gees really made it to the top of that class. I’m happy to report that a lot of time in this release is spent on something other than disco.
The two-hour documentary is pretty much driven by interviews with the two surviving members of the musical family. Robin and Barry share their memories of the entire ride. They are quite candid, and fans should appreciate the intimate look that the piece offers. There is considerable interview footage from Maurice, obviously older material filmed before his death. The brothers talk about their roots and their drive that led to their early successes. They talk about the deaths of Andy and Maurice, offering some emotional insight into the group’s dynamic. The documentary ends with a look at the future. The two remaining brothers appear to be just getting comfortable with the idea of continuing. It’s a bit of a tease that means we’re about to see considerably more from the duo in the near future.
You get plenty of vintage footage and stills. There are countless performance pieces. Unfortunately, you won’t see any complete song performances. Most of the hits are fairly represented in some form or another. There is even some informal footage of the trio during one of their recording sessions. It’s the kind of stuff fans love to see. Putting it all together in high definition for Blu-ray makes it all the more sweet.Video
The documentary is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec at an average 20-25 mbps. You have to understand that a great deal of the footage here is raw and a lot of it vintage. Many of these concert shots are in pretty bad shape. There’s plenty of very old stuff in black & white. It’s all here for historical purposes only and not meant to be judged by the image presentation. The current interview footage is a totally different story. This stuff looks quite impressive. Here the high-definition detail and solid color reproduction is found in abundance. Still, it’s merely interview footage and isn’t going to stand out as much as some f/x blockbuster. You’ll end up with exactly what you expect for a musical documentary.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is accompanied by a PCM 2.0 and Dolby Digital 5.1 track. I opted for the DTS version. Again, there is so much old material here that it isn’t going to stand out as if you were watching or listening to a modern concert. Most of it approaches CD quality, so it serves its purpose just fine. The dialog on the interviews is about as perfect as you could ask.
If you’re a fan of the Bee Gees, it doesn’t really matter which version of the band you might prefer. It’s all covered here in about as much detail as I’ve seen on these things. I learned a ton about the brothers and found it to be more than a little insightful while still including enough music to be entertaining as well. Of course, this is strictly for fans, albeit even casual ones. Your enjoyment level will be equal to your passion for the band. Undecided if you should pick it up? Here’s the question you have to ask yourself: “How deep is your love?”