“The Bee Gees are one of the strangest, most complicated, most brilliant groups ever to achieve pop stardom,” Rolling Stone’s Josh Eells wrote in his 2014 profile of Barry Gibb. The new 80 Proof Media tribute album, To Love the Bee Gees, was released on November 27th, 2016, proves that yet again. Featuring 17 artists and 28 songs from a five decade mix of artists including Mexican funk heavyweights Kinky, former Boo Radleys’ guitarst/songwriter Martin Carr, Isobel Campbell of Belle & Sebastian/Mark Lanegan fame, To Love the Bee Gees is a project that will thrill existing fans and break in many new ones, while also highlighting some of Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb’s less celebrated--but no less astonishing--material. One of many highlights of the set are the new tracks from two scarcely-recorded artists: baroque-pop cult hero Emitt Rhodes and Canadian “national treasure” (in the words of Michael Stipe), Mary Margaret O’Hara.
All this music has been made in the service of a worthy cause: profits from To Love the Bee Gees: A Tribute To The Brothers Gibb” will go to the Boston-based Foundation to be Named Later and their Peter Gammons Scholarship program. "What a terrific album,” says the Hall of Fame baseball scribe, whose passion for rock’n’roll has always been right up there with his ability to break Red Sox trade news. “Nothing makes me happier than to combine the work we do at the scholarship fund with good music. Listeners are in for a treat."
The record will be available physically and digitally in both standard and deluxe versions. The deluxe edition 2 CD set is released as a special-tie in with the Coalition of Independent Music Stores’ Black Friday/Record Store Day on November 27th. No mere collection of outtakes, this extended set explores and expands the notion of interpretation with 11 often radically different alternate takes of the same songs (by the same artists) from the standard album, as well as two exclusive bonus covers.
Birthing To Love The Bee Gees was no easy task. As esteemed journalist David Wild writes in his accompanying essay, “The group’s many highs are so tremendously and uniquely high, they are hard to touch, much less to better.” But this collection offers a remarkable and balanced survey, showing off many sides of the Bee Gees, and new sides of the artists through their cover choices and performances.
The Bee Gees were a band of brothers, and for producers Todd Bisson and Bennett Freed, To Love the Bee Gees was a true labor of brotherly love. The two men had been friends in music fandom and the music business for more than a decade without the younger Bisson knowing that Freed had once run the Bee Gees fan club… which Bisson himself was a member of in the late 1970s.
Bisson first had the notion for this tribute in 2011, when a Bee Gees track he somehow didn’t know, “Kilburn Towers” (from 1968’s Idea) came on the radio. “That perfect bit of pop psychedelia immediately replaced "Love You Inside And Out" as my favorite Bee Gees song,” says Bisson. “I listened to it dozens of times over the next few days. From that seed, this 1200-day process of creating a great big thank you to Barry, Robin and Mo grew. Our goal was to cover the waterfront musically and the Bee Gees career-wise. I really do think we accomplished that. There is blues, rock, folk, soul, pop, funk, electronica and dub on this album and songs from 1967 to 1993, both well-known and obscure.”
Isobel Campbell was one of the first artists who agreed to participate. She says, “I’ve great admiration and respect for any artist or group of artists who possess the rare courage to stand apart from the herd and status quo and dare to be different. The Bee Gees were such a band. Three harmonizing brothers brave enough to be the dudes who sang in falsetto voices. This trio had style unlike any other.” She continues, “I chose to record “How Deep Is Your Love” because the words and music resonated deeply with me. I love the simplicity of the beautiful heartfelt lyrics underscored by the brother’s intricate harmonies. I also loved the fact that I could think of the song and sing it on a spiritual level as well as a more traditional love song.”
Tackling the modern standard “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” (covered by everyone from Al Green to Michael Bublé) with sweeping, harmonic and symphonic beauty is Emitt Rhodes, who releasd his first new album in over 40 years in 2016. Rising to the challenge of “To Love Somebody,” a song written for Otis Redding before he died, is Elayna Boynton (best-known for the end title theme to Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained) and guitarist Patrick Park, who bring soul, heartbreak and a bit of vocal pyrotechnics to their version on the standard album, plus some extra lyrics that happened spontaneously during the recording session for the deluxe edition’s stark, country-blues-ish alternate take.
Other highlights include Kinky rescuing the funk blast of “Living Together” from album track obscurity; Bebopalula, featuring Chris Price who also produced Rhodes’ tracks, conjuring a power-poptastic version of “Melody Fair”; singer and Matt Nathanson sideman Aaron Tap, recording as the Boy Joys (named after the Joy Boys, an Australian band that backed the Gibbs early on) doffing a thrillingly modern, yet fastidiously faithful version of “Cucumber Castle”; and Gloom Balloon’s “Words,” which is on the record thanks to a vote by the project’s 12,000-plus Facebook followers.
To Love The Bee Gees begins and ends (on the deluxe version) with Daniel Tashian, first with his group The Silver Seas doing “I Started A Joke” and then on a solo recording of “Night Fever.” The Nashville rock’n’roll stalwart considers “I Started A Joke,” to be his finest vocal performance to date, perhaps in part because of the legendary 1953 Neumann U47 microphone he used.
Orchestral pop demi-god Eric Matthews, who appears on To Love the Bee Gees as a member of SheLoom with Jordan Zadorozny (Blinker The Star) and Filippo Gaetani, considers the Bee Gees to be "more or less the most important band in history." That puts him in good company with Bono, who once told Billboard the Bee Gees had produced “one of five extraordinary catalogs that make me feel ill with envy. It doesn’t have to be said, the Bee Gees are up there with the Beatles."
While artists like Tashian, Matthews and Brazzaville’s David Brown (who was already working up “Fanny (Be Tender With My Love)” to play live when he was contacted to participate) picked Bee Gees favorites, others brought a sense of discovery to the project. Once Bisson convinced Mary Margaret O’Hara to participate--“we spent more than a year as electronic pen pals, getting to know each other” he says--she immersed herself in the Bee Gees discography, listening to literally hundreds of songs before recording her version of the little known chestnut “Tell Me Why.” “I would never have felt them the way I do now without this album,” O’Hara says. “They touched every bit of music, every which way.”
Apart from the herd, and yet one of the most popular bands of all-time: At their 1997 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Bee Gees had reportedly sold more than 200 million records over the course of their career, a figure bested only by Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney. But, as revered as the brothers are, not all of their music is completely known. Says Bisson: “Even after everything that has been done on this album by this crazy talented group of musicians whom we now consider friends, we've only scratched the surface.” Neither the afore-mentioned “Kilburn Towers” nor “Love You Inside And Out,” wound up on the record. “Irony and incentive,” he adds, “maybe next time.”
To Love The Bee Gees is funded by the producers and released through their own imprint, 80 Proof Media. This is cottage industrialism at it's finest. The distribution of the physical album is online through Amazon worldwide and terrestrially through an arrangement with the CIMS network of independent record stores and their Think Indie distribution system. The digital album will be sold through iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon Digital, Spotify and a host of other online music stores.
The Standard album contains 15 brand new and exclusive Bee Gees covers. The deluxe edition adds a extra disc with 11 exclusive alternate versions songs on the standard album plus two additional covers. The deluxe edition will be manufactured in a limited edition of 5,000 in the U.S.
To Love The Bee Gees was released on November 27th, 2015 as part of Black Friday Record Store Day. The first single from the album was released in April of that year and marked the re-emergence of power pop icon Emitt Rhodes via "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" b/w Chris Price's version of "Please Read Me." The single was a limited edition red vinyl 7" with picture sleeve.
This website and our Facebook page are the central repository of information, music, videos and more cataloging our progress. You can see the genesis of this album in the News section. On the video page we posted footage from the project, artists and other assorted visuals we think are worth including.