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The Bee Gees 

The Studio Albums 1967-1968 (Reprise)

Most Yanks know the Bee Gees as the ersatz disco beat behind a young Travolta's feet in Saturday Night Fever. Yet the Brothers Gibb began life in mid-'60s Australia, where the group came to fame ripping off the Beatles. This is the era covered by The Studio Albums 1967-1968, a boxed set collecting the Bee Gees' three most popular records outside its disco days: Bee Gees 1st, Horizontal, and Idea. Reissued with a fat booklet and a truckload of extra tracks and alternate mixes, this version of the band sports soaring harmonies, baroque arrangements, and dreary lyrics so weepy and grandiose that the typical response is a good laugh. Simply check out the purple prose lacing Idea's "I Started a Joke," the group's biggest non-disco hit: "I started a joke, which started the whole world crying, but I didn't see that the joke was on me."

Basically, these three records were created just to reach the height of hip in swinging '60s London. Nobody expected them to be examined by music geeks 40-odd years later. What's more, they showcase the flowery shagadelica that seems to be permanently back in fashion. Keeping all that in mind, the box would make a great Christmas gift for your pal: the die-hard '60s music nerd.

Speaking of CD Review

More by Angela Sawyer

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