Spirits Having Flown - Bee Gees

Date: 1979
Label:
RSO
Click here for full track listing

Where to Buy

Buy reissued CD version (released 2006)
Buy original CD version (released 1989)
Buy Australian import (released 2006)

Reviews
Nicholas James


How on Earth could the Bee Gees ever follow Saturday Night Fever? The album had made the Bee Gees the biggest music stars on the planet and had come to define the late 1970s. Their response was to take the falsetto style of the most popular tracks from Fever and develop the style further in a collection of beautifully crafted pop songs.

The first track, 'Tragedy', became one of the group's most famous songs. The everything-but-the-kitchen-sink production, swooping melodies and perfect harmonies of this infectious track ensured that it went to the number one spot on both sides of the Atlantic. Supposedly, Abba-influenced, 'Tragedy'  is probably the ultimate falsetto track from this period.

'Too Much Heaven' took the 'How Deep Is Your Love'-style ballad to new levels, in an almost impossibly emotional song with a spectacular Barry lead vocal. Bee Gees songs don't get much better than this. 'Love You Inside Out' and 'Spirits (Having Flown)' followed the same trend, sparkling, clean production, highly over-produced harmonies, enigmatic lyrics and a chorus to die for. 'Reaching Out' completed what was the first side of the original vinyl release, a song that almost certainly would have been released as a single were it not surrounded by the songs that it was. I don't think the Bee Gees ever wrote a more beautiful melody than that used in the verses of 'Reaching Out'.

The former vinyl side 2 is less impressive, again dominated by the funky pop style, with falsetto harmonies, but lacking the memorable songs of the first 'side'. 'Stop (Think Again)' is a stand-out track, with Barry experimenting further with his new found vocal range in a soft song with sax appeal. In 'Living Together', we hear something highly unusual for the late 1970s: Robin not only takes the lead vocal, but he also sings in a Barry Gibb-style falsetto! The fact that it is also a nice song adds to the experience, but it wasn't something he would do again, suggesting that he didn't consider it a success. Only the final track completely changes style, with a slower pace, less instruments and Barry singing mainly in his natural voice. It is a perfect end to an excellent album.

Overall, and in hindsight, Spirits suffers from too much falsetto. It would have been better to have had a wider variety of vocal sounds and more from Robin and Maurice, and a break from the synthesisers that dominate the album. Clearly the Bee Gees were capitalising on their Saturday Night Fever success, and the album does not disappoint in that regard, but the album would have been improved if they had not allowed themselves to get swept up in the wave of Fever hysteria. This would ultimately be their undoing for a little while, but would force their career into a new direction.

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Where to Buy
Buy reissued CD version (released 2006)
Buy original CD version (released 1989)
Buy Australian import (released 2006)



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