Saturday, May 9, 2009

You Should Be Dancing, Bee Gees (1976)

Oh, don't tell me you don't love this song; you know you do.

The week You Should Be Dancing was #1 on the charts, the other four artists in the Top 5 were Lou Rawls, Wings, England Dan & John Ford Coley and K.C. & the Sunshine Band. I feel a certain nausea just thinking about it.

The Bee Gees never affected me that way. They were innately talented musicians who marched to the beat of their own drum (in this case a conga drum!), which had been obvious since their chilling 1967 debut with New York Mining Disaster 1941. The offspring of a bandleader/drummer father and singer mother, the Gibbs brothers, who were born on the Isle of Man and grew up in Australia and England, were not schooled in music. But their abilities manifested themselves early in life; before they reached the double digits in age, they had a band called the Rattlesnakes, and always wrote their own material.

As they became famous around the world, they displayed chameleon qualities for sure, slipping into contemporary genres but putting their own unique stamp onto them. Long known for sometimes heavy-handed ballads in three-part harmony, in 1975 - apparently advised to do so by Eric Clapton - they came across the pond and began working with producer Arif Mardin at Atlantic Records, where they incorporated r&b influences into their work.

This proved a wise move as the whitened funk we called "disco" flourished, making it clear that rhythmic, club-oriented dance music was going to be a dominant force for the foreseeable future. It was during this time that Barry Gibb, who hadn't always sung in falsetto, began to do so. Nights on Broadway was the first hit with that added element.

Although many people will associate You Should Be Dancing with a certain unforgettable John Travolta disco dance scene, the fact is it was a hit well before anyone had heard of a soundtrack or movie called Saturday Night Fever. The kids on American Bandstand used to rate highly the songs that "had a good beat and you can dance to it." Written by Barry with his twin brothers Maurice and Robin, You Should Be Dancing feels like a song that could make the lame walk again. Who needs faith healers, shrinks or selective seratonin re-uptake inhibitors when you've got a bass line like this?


Wade said...

But you gotta love Lou, right?

England Dan (Dan Seals, from Lamesa, Texas) died a few weeks ago. He'd reinvented himself as a country singer in the late eighties. His brother was Jim Seals of Seals & Croft, which I always get mixed up with Sid and Marty Croft, the puppet guys.

The Bee Gees, like Abba, is an area to which entry for me is forever barred. I wasn't there when I needed to be, and now it all just sounds like brakes squealing to me.

The Isle of Man? Did I know that? Weird. Isn't that the island where no cars are allowed and all the cats have six toes?

cornbread hell said...

i must confess-
i'm with wade on the bee gees...


(but wouldn't that make a great xword answer?

and don't even get me started on the clues for that one.

yes, i still love the estivator, but...