The Bee Gees released their first single in 1963, but they didn't have a hit in their homeland of Australia until 1965. It took another two years for them to crack the Top 20 in the U.K. and U.S., after which the hits came steadily until the band temporarily split in late 1969. The trio would later re-form and experience much greater success, but Ace's 2017 compilation To Love Somebody: The Songs of the Bee Gees 1966-1970 concentrates on the songs they wrote during their first act, a time when they were seen as songwriters as much as performers. During this period, the Bee Gees walked the line separating ornate pop and baroque psychedelia -- a thin line, to be sure, but the 24 covers on To Love Somebody show how the Bee Gees' catalog could sound equally comfortable in the hands of showbiz pros, trippy upstarts, bubblegum stars, and soul crooners. The latter are responsible for versions of the brothers' best-known songs, with Al Green's "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart," James Carr's "To Love Somebody," and Percy Sledge's "I've Gotta Get a Message to You" opening up the proceedings. As excellent as these are, they're somewhat expected since all three of the songs are standards, covered by singers in every genre. What's delightful about To Love Somebody is how the rest of the compilation is devoted to swinging British pop, fuzz-drenched candied psychedelia, spooky sunshine pop -- even reggae (Pat Kelly's "I Started a Joke," John Holt's "Morning of My Life"), matured bubblegum (Tommy Roe's 1979 reading of "Massachusetts"), Los Bravos turning "Like Nobody Else" into a Hollywood-ized Kinks, and the charms of a spacy Nina Simone ("I Can't See Nobody"). As such, To Love Somebody serves not simply as a testament to the songbook of the Bee Gees, but how the record industry could try to spin the tunes of hitmakers into so many different genres.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine