Bee Gees

Here at Last...Bee Gees...Live

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At the time of its release, no one knew quite what to make of this double-live LP -- the price was equivalent to a single platter, and the song lineup was alluring enough, but the Bee Gees weren't the kind of act that were very compelling in concert. Not that they didn't sell huge numbers of tickets, but it wasn't as though hundreds of bootleggers were sneaking tape recorders into their shows, or that Alan Kendall was going to cause Dickey Betts any sleepless nights with his slide or lead playing. Still, in the absence of a new studio LP for the spring of 1977, this live recording seemed like a good idea -- recorded at the Los Angeles Forum on Dec. 20, 1976, after the group had made its successful transformation into a white soul and disco act with Main Course and Children of the World. Here at Last captured the group at what any reasonable observer would have considered an obvious peak. Little did anyone realize that, even as the tapes from the show were being mixed in early 1977, the group was beginning work on an album that would dwarf everything they'd done up to that point, the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack -- as a result of which, Here at Last, which should have been the capstone to their comeback as a soul and disco act, became a footnote. Contained in its 84 minutes, however, were the best songs from the early phase of their soul/disco period, including "Nights on Broadway," "Love So Right," "You Should Be Dancin'," and "Jive Talkin'," all extended and enhanced, but also, from their 1967-1973 period, the hits "New York Mining Disaster 1941," "I've Gotta Get a Message to You," "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart," "To Love Somebody," "Lonely Days," "Run to Me," "World," and a medley that contained "Massachusetts," "I Started a Joke," and "Holiday." There was a bracing immediacy to their singing, with Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb delivering performances that were every bit as good as those on the studio originals, spiced with fresh variations in tempo and emphasis. In that regard, the versions of "Holiday" and "To Love Somebody," the latter offering a more soulful sound than the original single and a full horn accompaniment, might be the most beguiling performance of their entire career. Ironically, keyboard player Blue Weaver, who does such a good job here of matching the rhythms and the orchestrations on their early records, was also responsible for some of the more ambitious flourishes on Saturday Night Fever, which would swamp this record and the era it represented.

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