Rolling Stone (the magazine) celebrates this with a collection of YouTube versions of "13 Essential Barry Gibb Tracks," most of them from the Bee Gees, beginning in the late 60s. The accompanying paragraphs are laudatory. They suggest that David Bowie essentially copied the Bee Gees in his early albums. So it's okay to like the Bee Gees now? Finally?
When they started, the reigning tastemakers at Rolling Stone considered them Beatles Lite. Their middle period albums were ignored, their hits ridiculed. And that's before they rode the Disco wave with their songs in Saturday Night Fever, which was of course beneath contempt.
Contempt was the attitude we faced when we included their first albums in our 1967-68 continuous play mix back in the Galesburg House for the Bewildered (169 W. First Street, now a national historical monument. Wait--update: they tore it down) where the tunes of that fantastic year were our senior year soundtrack at Knox College. Beatles, Stones, Hendrix, Creem, Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe and the Fish, Buffalo Springfield, even Vanilla Fudge, but...the Bee Gees?
Two of the 13 Essential Tracks are from those first two albums. "New York Mining Disaster 1941" is an acknowledged classic from their first one, and their first radio hit. "To Love Somebody" also from that album (not in this list) was even bigger. "Holiday" was the third hit from the Bee Gees First.
doing a Springsteen (neither of them terribly good at it.) But that's less of a departure than Rolling Stone's--musicians by and large did not buy into the snobbery. Many recorded Bee Gees songs and copied their riffs. Musicians are like that. (Irony here is that Jon Landau, by now the multimillionaire manager and former producer for the Boss, was the reigning imperial power as the record review editor at Rolling Stone in those years that established the Bee Gees as bad taste.)
So I welcome the conventional wisdom to what I already knew: the Bee Gees were unique, unquestionably strange, but frequently haunting and oddly joyful. I'm glad that at least one of them lived long enough to get some love as well as fame and fortune. Welcome to the fan club.