Saturday Night Fever

Original Soundtrack

Polydor, 1977

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/11/2009

At first glance, the best-selling soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever may seem like a hodgepodge, and at times, it is. But it stands as perhaps the most essential album of all the dance-oriented titles on this list. One fairly obvious reason: it is where the Bee Gees crossed over to the Big Time. And they -- not to mention dance floors all across our great nation -- would never be the same.

Still, I wish producer Bill Oakes could have limited the number of instrumentals. Honestly, the only memorable ones are the #1 hit by Walter Murphy, “A Fifth Of Beethoven,” and the suspenseful “Calypso Breakdown” by Ralph McDonald. The others by David Shire should have been made into an actual score for the film, though that kind of thing is only done these days. They disrupt the energy and flow of the other tunes, and sound the most dated (though the sound of the ‘70s nbtc__dv_250 is an essential ingredient here and bleeds from every orifice of this lengthy double album).

The Saturday Night Fever project would also be beneficial to Yvonne Elliman, who recorded a version of the Bee Gees’ “If I Can’t Have You,” bringing it -- yep, you guessed it -- all the way to #1 too. By the way, the Bee Gees’ version can be found on their stellar Greatest compilation. It seemed like everything the Brothers Gibb touched turned to gold in 1978. Hell, there are even two versions of “More Than A Woman” to be found herein, one of which was given a funky makeover by Tavares. And then, as if that weren’t enough, John Travolta demanded that two earlier Bee Gees cuts be included in the film, namely the #1 breakthrough hits “You Should Be Dancing” and my personal fave, “Jive Talkin.” Nice call, Manero!

Other highlights include disco classics like “Open Sesame” by Kool & The Gang (remember them?), “Boogie Shoes” by K.C. & The Sunshine Band (even better, right?), and the overlong and overplayed “Disco Inferno” by The Trammps, which was recently adopted on tour by -- who else -- Madonna. With all the heady and hedonistic, upbeat material, you almost forget that there is a meaty ballad to be found on Saturday Night Fever, and it’s the Bees’ very best, “How Deep Is Your Love.” So refreshing to hear that one again and find that it still stands up today.

So even though the Bee Gees do dominate here and the pesky David Shire is like a fly you want to swat and put out of its misery, this is one album you should feel proud to own. With memories like those that this conjures up, not to mention the fact that it won the 1978 Grammy for Album Of The Year, there’s no need to dismiss this as a mere guilty pleasure. So go ahead and strike that disco pose…you know you want to.

Rating: A-

User Rating: B+


Comments

What can I say? This is one of those rare soundtracks that truly takes on a life of its own. I'm not the world's biggest disco fan, but who am I to deny the infectious grooves of Saturday night Fever? This is definitely a guilty pleasure on my list, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy most of it. It's only too bad I can't say that for the accompanying film...
I'm glad that John Travolta demanded that "you should be dancing" on this sountrack. I think that was the song he did the dance scene on.I loved the movie, and would like to see a remake.








© 2009 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.