Say what you want about the Bee Gees and their falsettos and their disco success. They were among the ’60s and ’70s most adept songwriters, authors of more than their share of classics. Here are the Three Best Bee Gees Songs from the ’60s.
Like “To Love Somebody,” this song was written at the request of Robert Stigwood for another artist: Cliff Richard. When Richard took too long to get it done, the band recorded and released it in October 1967.
A simple tune sung by Barry, it’s a magnificent ballad that blends the emotive style of the ’50s tearjerker with the sparse arrangement of ’60s folk (like Cliff Richard singing a Donovan song).
Throughout their careers, the Bee Gees proved themselves masters of the medium-tempo ballad.
An eventual #1 in the UK (and the second song played with the launch of BBC Radio 1), “Massachusetts” blends the orchestral intensity of “To Love Somebody” with the simple lyricism of “Words.” It is, indeed, one of the most beautiful pop ballads of the ’60s.
1. “To Love Somebody”
The reason this is such a soulful tune is that it was written for Otis Redding on the request of the Bee Gees manager, Robert Stigwood. Redding before it would be recorded so we’ll never know what it would’ve sounded like in his hands.
In the hands of Barry, Maurice and Robin, the song they recorded at IBC studios in March 1967 became a tender ballad of longing, an iconic pop standard and an example of ’60s pop orchestration at its best.
“I guess that after 22 gold singles, two platinum albums and two Grammy awards (writing for others), we simply felt we wanted to do something for ourselves.” So said John Whitehead about the hit, “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now.”
After Redding died, McFadden and Whitehead went to work with James Knight under the name Talk of The Town. When no one talked about Talk of the Town, the pair’s music career looked to be over.
Then, one night while sitting at a kitchen table, the songwriters came up with “Back Stabbers,” one of the biggest selling records of all time for the O’Jays. McFadden and Whitehad-penned hits for Melba Moore and Teddy Pendergrass followed before the duo released their first album in 1979.
Within months, “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” had climbed to the top of the charts, landing at #12 on the pop roster, #1 on the R&B charts and selling 8 million copies.
“When we went into the studio we no intention whatsoever of cutting a disco number,” Anita Ward once told Cashbox magazine. “We were down to our last number in the studio, and we realized that we needed something uptempo.”
That uptempo tune turned out to be “Ring My Bell,” a song that producer, songwriter, label chief (and Syn-drum player) Frederick Knight had intended for 11-year old Stacy Lattisaw. When the song wasn’t placed with Lattisaw’s people, it got a rewrite and a spin during Ward’s sessions.
It paid off: the song climbed to #1 on the pop chart in June 30, 1979. Ward’s first album, Songs of Love, sold well but a subsequent single, “Don’t Drop My Love,” dropped off the chart at #87, dropping Anita Ward into the category of One-Hit Wonder.