Spirits Having Flown

The Bee Gees

Polydor, 1979


REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


The casual Bee Gees fan will undoubtedly remember Spirits Having Flown album for its trio of No.1 singles, “Tragedy,” “Too Much Heaven” and, most surprising of all, “Love You (Inside Out),” but scratch the surface some more and one will discover just how much more this thirteenth Bee Gees album has to offer.

It is, perhaps, their best album since 1968’s Idea (sorry, but the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack cannot be considered a true Bee Gees release). 

Little did Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb realize at the time that Spirits Having Flown would also be their last successful album together, though 2001’s This Is Where I Came In certainly deserved a better reception than it received. The Bee Gees would become producers in the 80s and beyond, passing their trademark sound on to other artists as diverse as Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand, Dionne Warwick and Kenny Rogers. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

In a sense, Saturday Night Fever was both a blessing and a curse, since the Bee Gees were labeled a disco act from that point forward. Then, when disco died, so did the Bee Gees. It made no difference to anyone that this act had been an entirely different animal back in the 60s. Had the boys known in 1977 what they know now, they probably would never have signed on to do Saturday Night Fever.

As Spirits Having Flown’s track number four, “Reaching Out” is where the Bee Gees first get to prove that they have the potential to be more than just a disco act. Right from the first set of notes, you can almost picture yourself on a beach watching the waves ebb and flow. This song helps to breathe new life into the entire album after the three all-too-familiar and insulated ones that had come before it. Next up is the Bee Gees’ acoustic campfire song of sorts entitled “Spirits (Having Flown),” which had become a single in the UK and was a terrific addition to their subsequent hits compilation.

The best songs appear on the second half of the disc. The Brothers Gibb break out the funk and horns on “Search, Find,” making it the perfect song to shake a tailfeather to. They continue on in the same vein with “I’m Satisfied,” which is fleshed out even more with a subtle string section. Speaking of strings, the closing ballad “Until” sets Barry’s vocal over what sounds like an electronic keyboard harp.

Spirits Having Flown’s other upbeat track, “Living Together,” is my pick for the best song on the album and is one of my all-time favorites by the Bee Gees. Another standout is “Stop (Think Again),” a jazzy, slow number with a cabaret/lounge singer feel to it. It’s one of those fluid songs that takes its time, prompting the listener to savor every single moment of it.

It’s the heaven that is being sung about in “Too Much Heaven,” though in the case of this impressive album, too much of a good thing is never enough.

Rating: A-

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© 2007 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Polydor, and is used for informational purposes only.