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Main Course
Bee Gees

RSO SO 4807
Released: May 1975
Chart Peak: #14
Weeks Charted: 74
Certified Gold: 12/23/75

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The Bee GeesMain Course, the best-sounding Bee Gees album ever, represents a last-ditch effort to reestablish the group's mass popularity in front of their upcoming U.S. tour. My guess is that it should succeed, at least to some extent, due to Arif Mardin's spectacular production, which presents the Bee Gees in blackface on the album's four genuinely exciting cuts. "Nights on Broadway" and especially "Fanny (Be Tender with My Love)" boast spacious disco arrangements against which the Bee Gees overdub skillful imitations of black falsetto. "Jive Talkin'" approximates the synthesized propulsion of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition," whicle the song itself offers an inept lyric parody of black street argot. In "Wind of Change," also synthesized Stevie Wonder style, the Gibb brothers dare to pretend to speak for New York black experience. While I find the idea of such pretensions offensively cooptive, musically the group carries them off with remarkable flair.

The rest of the album more or less reflects the Bee Gees of old. "Songbird," "Country Lanes," "Come on Over" and "Baby as You Turn Away" sound characteristically sugary. "Edge of the Universe" is a slice of dumb psychedelia, "All This Making Love," a passable novelty. For all their professionalism, the Bee Gees have never been anything but imitators, their albums dependent on sound rather than substance. In this respect, Main Course is no different from its predecessors.

- Stephen Holden, Rolling Stone, 7/17/75.

Bee Gees - Main Course
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Bonus Reviews!

The remarkable durability of the Bee Gees suggests they're pretty good at charting the audience's zig-zagging (some would say tick-tacking, and some would say worse) taste, but with the last two albums the Gibbs seem to be circling in on something, and not sure what it is. Some of those ubiquitous jazz influences have come their way (along with other American influences; their fascination with this place, once harmlessly manifested in such plainly English-made things as "Massachusetts" and "Living in Chicago," has narrowed down to concentrate on how we do things), and the washed-out colors of nostalgia attract them for the moment, but this new deal, whatever it's going to be, hasn't yet settled into shape. The lads are still flitting, some of their new concepts too fragile to really grasp, and it's the annoying repetitions of "Jive Talkin'" (that's how we do things, all right) one minute, and the modern -- wobbly, mannered -- construction one expects of Curtis Mayfield in "Winds of Change" the next, and the curious wavering between intensity and detachment in "Songbird" after that. It isn't until the second track of the second side ("Country Lanes") that you hear what we used to call a Bee Gees song, instantly identifiable, tightly organized to take advantage of Barry Gibb's whispering approach and Robin Gibb's vibrato in the chorus harmonies, riding on a simple, almost-too-ripe melodic line. Ah, those simple good times of yore. But this confusing present situation does make an interesting curiosity. It's just that some of us have been curious and confused long enough.

- Noel Coppage, Stereo Review, 10/75.

After several rather disappointing albums, the Gibbs Brothers have come up with perhaps their most versatile and most contemporary effort in years. Recorded at Miami's Criteria with production chores handled by Arif Mardin, this album touches base with so many different styles of music and commercial sounds, that it could be a smash on all fronts. For the first time, they could score in the soul market with several dance-oriented songs (sometimes a la Average White Band). And then there are the songs that sound like the old Bee Gees, featuring the vocal harmonies that made them a supergroup of the Sixties. Other songs are reminiscent of Bad Company, Elton John and even the Beatles but they treat each of these selections with their own mixture of instrumental and vocal excitement. One of the major changes in the group is the addition of British keyboard wizard Blue Weaver, who does some fine synthesizer work throughout. Still, the multiple-talented Gibbs Brothers are the winning element; with distinctive vocals and writing talents, the group now has a chance of breaking into the discos, hitting high on the charts of AM, FM and soul stations. Best cuts: "Nights On Broadway," "Jive Talking," "Winds Of Change," "All This Making Love," "Country Lanes," "Edge Of The Universe," "Baby As You Turn Away."

- Billboard, 1975.

At first I was put off by the commercial desperation that induced these chronic fatuosos to turn out their brightest album in many years. But commercial success validated it: "Nights on Broadway" and "Jive Talkin'" turned out ot be the kind of fluff that sticks. Sad to say, an unpleasant tension between feigned soulfulness and transparent insincerity still mars most of side two, which does, however, lead off with undiscovered gem: "All This Making Love," a baroque, frantically mechanical evocation of compulsive sex. B+

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

On Main Course The Bee Gees began incorporating soul into their well-constructed sound, inching the group closer to their watershed disco years. Like most Bee Gees' albums, the material is fairly inconsistent, yet the strongest moments -- including the hit singles "Jive Talkin'" and "Nights on Broadway" -- rank with the group's best work. * * * *

- Stephen Thomas Erlewine, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

Main Course is a transitional album, pop with R&B touches that would turn into a full-fledged disco movement for "Saturday Night Fever." On Main Course, however, it's a welcome switch from the bland pop path the Bee Gees were on before, yeilding tuneful hits such as "Jive Talkin'" and "Nights on Broadway." * * * *

- Gary Graff, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

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