Before moving to England in 1967 to successfully earn their fortune, The Bee Gees were one of Australia's most popular beat groups. They actually recorded quite a bit of material in the mid-'60s that ranks among their most rock-oriented, strongly recalling The Hollies and the lighter early Beatles with their strong melodies, harmonies, rhythm guitars, and cheery enthusiasm. The packaging on this budget double album leaves something to be desired, but it's the best American compilation of material from the group's most obscure and, in some ways, best era. Barry Gibb, though only a teenager, composed most of the songs here, many of them strong. "Wine And Women" and, especially, the driving "I Want Home" compare favorably to the best mid-'60s Hollies hits; "Peace Of Mind" and "All Of My Life" rank among the best early Beatle ripoffs; "I Was A Lover, A Leader Of Men" shows unusual (and, as it turns out, mostly undeveloped) lyrical sophistication; and the Robin Gibb-penned "I Am The World" is a strange melodrama worthy of Roy Orbison. Any fan of British Invasion pop will enjoy this set, and shouldn't let any preconceptions from either the band's more orchestrated late-'60s work or their disco hits keep them from checking this out.
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