Spirits Having Flown
|Spirits Having Flown|
|Studio album by the Bee Gees|
|Released||5 February 1979|
|Recorded||March–November, 1978 Criteria Studios, Miami|
|Genre||Soft rock, disco|
|Label||RSO, Warner Bros.|
|Producer||The Bee Gees, Albhy Galuten, Karl Richardson|
|the Bee Gees chronology|
Spirits Having Flown is the Bee Gees' fifteenth original album (thirteenth internationally), released on 5 February 1979. It was the group's first album after their collaboration on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. The album's first three tracks were released as singles which all went to no.1 in the US giving them an unbroken run of six US chart-toppers tying with The Beatles. It was also the first Bee Gees album to make the UK top 40 in ten years (not counting the soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever), as well as being their first and only UK no.1 album. It has sold 20 million copies worldwide.
The title track (which, unlike the album title, includes parentheses) was also released as a single in the UK and a few other countries in December 1979. It reached No. 16 in the UK chart in January 1980, but its relatively low chart position and its somewhat limited release means that, although it is a well known track, it is often absent from Bee Gees Greatest Hits compilations. The exception is Bee Gees Greatest released in 1979 (for which the single was issued to promote).
Although the band was unaware of it at the time, Spirits Having Flown would mark a turning point in their career, the high point before a severe downturn from which they would never fully recover. They would never again experience the same level of success; in fact, they would endure a near-total radio blackout that Robin Gibb would refer to as "censorship" and "evil" in interviews.
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The Bee Gee's ninth US number one single from 1979. It topped the chart for three weeks.
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Spirits Having Flown was the most complex and ambitious album the Bee Gees ever worked on, taking much of 1978 to complete. Barry said that he felt it had to live up to the sensational success of Saturday Night Fever. This only heightened any tendencies the Bee Gees had toward perfectionism, Barry in particular. No doubt each song has many, many recording dates, as they carefully recorded and re-recorded each nuance, but none of the actual dates are known. There was a break from about the second week of May to the last week of July. Production was much more advanced than the group's previous albums, with heavy use of studio effects and multi-layered vocal harmonies. On the other hand, it meant that most of the songs on Spirits Having Flown were unsuitable for live performance.
Co-producer Albhy Galuten recalls Spirits Having Flown as being created primarily by Barry Gibb, Karl Richardson and himself putting in long days and nights at Criteria Studios. Blue Weaver recalls others being involved. Both agree that Robin Gibb was active behind the scenes in songwriting and offering feedback to the recording process, but Maurice Gibb contributes probably the least he did on any Bee Gees album. Not only was his alcoholism sapping his creativity, but he was having back pains finally diagnosed in 1980 as caused by a bad disk.
In the recording phase Robin and Maurice now mainly played the role of backing and harmony vocalists, and even in that capacity Barry did many of the vocal dubs himself as he went over and over the recorded work. Robin contributed one lead vocal ("Living Together") which was sung in falsetto with Barry providing alternating lead vocals in his normal register. This was Robin's lowest amount of lead vocals on any Bee Gees album with the exception of 1970's Cucumber Castle, for which he was not part of the group at that time. As with the last four Bee Gees albums, Maurice did not have any lead vocals.
The Bee Gees had been effectively typecast as a disco group after Saturday Night Fever, and in a 1978 interview Barry remarked "People think we're just about disco now. Of course that's not true. If you look at the SNF soundtrack, there's some dance music, but we also have ballads like More Than A Woman." In an effort to break away from this stigma, Spirits Having Flown contained no disco tracks, though the heavy use of Barry's falsetto lead on the majority of the album draws comparison to the tracks from Saturday Night Fever and therefore is erroneously considered a disco album.
The horn section from Chicago (James Pankow, Walt Parazaider and Lee Loughnane) made a guest appearance on this album. At the time, they were next door working on the Chicago album Hot Streets. Thus the Bee Gees would return the favour as they appeared on Chicago's song "Little Miss Lovin'" and their keyboardist Blue Weaver appeared on "No Tell Lover"
Release and reception
|Robert Christgau||B− |
The eagerly-anticipated Spirits Having Flown was released in February, 1979, with full page ads in Billboard magazine and Rolling Stone, which gave the album a lengthy, but positive review. It topped the album charts in several countries, including both the U.S. and the U.K. Its three singles "Tragedy", "Too Much Heaven" and "Love You Inside Out" all topped the charts in the US. It was also the first Bee Gees album to make a noticeable presence on the UK charts in a decade. In the US, it notably got airplay on black music stations, vindicating the group's stated mission of "blue-eyed soul". They also embarked on a lavish US tour in 1979 to promote the album, which marked the final climax of their commercial success before declining in popularity during the coming years. The album is claimed to have sold 20 million copies worldwide.
All songs written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb
- Side one
- "Tragedy" – 5:08
- "Too Much Heaven" – 5:02
- "Love You Inside Out" – 4:13
- "Reaching Out" – 4:07
- "Spirits (Having Flown)" – 5:21
- Side two
- "Search, Find" – 4:16
- "Stop (Think Again)" – 6:41
- "Living Together" – 4:23
- "I'm Satisfied" – 3:55
- "Until" – 2:27
|November 1978||"Too Much Heaven"||Released worldwide||#1 US, No. 1 Norway, No. 3 UK, No. 1 Brazil, No. 2 France, No. 1 Italy, No. 1 New Zealand, No. 1 Canada|
|February 1979||"Tragedy"||Released worldwide||#1 US, No. 1 Brazil, No. 1 UK, No. 1 Canada, No. 1 Spain, No. 2 Germany, No. 1 Italy, No. 1 France, No. 1 Brazil, No. 1 Ireland, No. 1 Nepal, No. 1 Peru|
|April 1979||"Love You Inside Out"||Released worldwide||#1 US, No. 13 UK, No. 1 Canada, No. 3 Chile, No. 6 Ireland, No. 17 Italy|
|November 1979||"Spirits (Having Flown)"||Released in conjunction with Bee Gees Greatest||#16 UK, No. 14 Ireland, No. 30 Nepal|
The Bee Gees also recorded "Desire" for the album but it was rejected and instead released as an Andy Gibb solo single.
Sprits Having Flown was voted Best Pop/Rock Album of 1979 at the 1980 American Music Awards ceremony.
1979 North American tour
- Bee Gees
- Bee Gees Band
- Alan Kendall – Lead guitar
- Blue Weaver – Synthesizer, Piano, Keyboards, Vibraphone, Arp
- Dennis Bryon – Drums
- Additional personnel
- Neal Bonsanti – Horns
- Gary Brown – Saxophone
- Harold Cowart – Bass
- Kenneth Faulk – Horns
- Albhy Galuten – Synthesizer, Bass, Conductor
- Peter Graves – Horns
- Joe Lala – Percussion, Conga
- Lee Loughnane – Horns
- Herbie Mann – Flute
- James Pankow – Horns
- Walter Parazaider – Horns
- Bill Purse – Horns
- Whit Sidener – Horns
- George Terry – Guitar
- Stanley Webb – Horns
- Daniel Ben Zubulon – Percussion, Conga
Certifications and sales
Chart procession and succession
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