Spirits Having Flown

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Spirits Having Flown
Studio album by
Released5 February 1979[1]
RecordedMarch – November 1978
StudioCriteria Studios, Miami
The Bee Gees chronology
Saturday Night Fever
Spirits Having Flown
Singles from Spirits Having Flown
  1. "Too Much Heaven"
    Released: November 1978
  2. "Tragedy"
    Released: February 1979
  3. "Love You Inside Out"
    Released: April 1979

Spirits Having Flown is the fifteenth album by the Bee Gees, released in 1979 by RSO Records. 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 and all reached No. 1 in the US, giving the Bee Gees an unbroken run of six US chart-toppers in a one-year period and equaling a feat shared by Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, and The Beatles. It was 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. Spirits Having Flown also topped the charts in Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden and the US. The album has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.

Spirits Having Flown marked the end of the band's most successful era, prior to a severe downturn in the early 1980s when they were subject to a near-total radio blackout (particularly in America) that Robin Gibb would refer to as "censorship" and "evil" in interviews.

Reprise Records remastered and re-released the album on CD in 2006, although it did not include any additional bonus tracks, demos or outtakes.


At the start of 1978, Barry Gibb produced the album Shadow Dancing by Andy Gibb. In February, Barry wrote the title song for the film Grease performed by Frankie Valli; also in February, another Barry Gibb composition from 1977 "Ain't Nothing Gonna Keep Me From You" was recorded by Teri DeSario. By March, the Bee Gees had started to record this album.[3]


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 contributed 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.[3] He said that he would be doing bass work and without his knowledge, Barry and Robin would hire in someone else to play parts that he was supposed to be playing; however, he said that whilst he played fine, neither Barry nor Robin could rely on him.[4]

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 solo lead vocal ("Living Together") which was sung in falsetto with Barry providing alternating lead vocals in his normal register. This was Robin's least 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 solo lead vocals. While Barry is the most prominent lead vocalist on "Too Much Heaven," it features a mix of more than 20 vocal parts, including 6 tracks featuring Barry alone (3 on falsetto and 3 in chest voice) plus another 3 of Barry, Robin, and Maurice singing lead in chest voice together; while Barry is the most prominent.[5]

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 attempt to counter this typecasting, the first single from Spirits Having Flown was the ballad "Too Much Heaven". 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". The Bee Gees also recorded "Desire" for the album but it was rejected and instead released as a solo single by their brother Andy.


Spirits Having Flown was released on January 24, 1979; it was rushed two weeks early due to American radio leaks. The album was released a few weeks later in New Zealand and South American countries.[6] In the U.S. the album was supported by full page ads in Billboard and Rolling Stone, which gave the album a lengthy and positive review. It topped the album charts in several countries, including both the US and UK. Its three singles "Tragedy", "Too Much Heaven" and "Love You Inside Out" all topped the charts in the US. The title track was also released as a single in the UK and a few other countries in December 1979 to promote the Bee Gees Greatest compilation.


The album sold more than 20 million copies worldwide as of 1997.[7] The RIAA certified the album "platinum" for million copies shipped, while selling 4 million copies in United States.[8]


Spirits Having Flown was voted Best Pop/Rock Album of 1979 at the 1980 American Music Awards ceremony.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideB−[10]
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music[11]
The Great Rock Discography6/10[12]
MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide[13]
(The New) Rolling Stone Album Guide[14]
Smash Hits3/10[15]

The Globe and Mail concluded that "the three idiosyncratic voices are still so bleached out and emaciated, and the whole sound so pasteurized by cellophane-wrap production effects that it's difficult to regard the album in terms outside of disco."[16] The New York Times determined that, "like the Motown groups, the Bee Gees stake everything on glittering urbanity."[17]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb.

Side one
No.TitleLead vocal(s)Length
2."Too Much Heaven"Barry (with Robin and Maurice)[5]4:55
3."Love You Inside Out"Barry4:11
4."Reaching Out"Barry4:05
5."Spirits (Having Flown)"Barry5:19
Side two
No.TitleLead vocal(s)Length
1."Search, Find"Barry4:13
2."Stop (Think Again)"Barry6:40
3."Living Together"Robin and Barry4:21
4."I'm Satisfied"Barry3:55

1979 North American tour[edit]


Credits adapted from AllMusic and Joseph Brennan.[18][5]

Bee Gees

  • Barry Gibb – lead vocals, harmony and backing vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Robin Gibb – harmony and backing vocals, lead vocals on “Too Much Heaven” and “Living Together”
  • Maurice Gibb – harmony and backing vocals, bass, keyboard, lead vocals on “Too Much Heaven”

Backing band

Additional musicians


  • Bee Gees – producers
  • Albhy Galuten – producer
  • Karl Richardson – producer, engineer
  • John Blanche – assistant engineer
  • Dennis Hetzendorfer – assistant engineer
  • George Marino – LP mastering
  • Ted Jensen – CD mastering
  • Sterling Sound (New York, NY) – mastering location
  • Ed Caraeff – art direction, design, photography


Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Argentina 60,000[43]
Australia 215,000[44]
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[46] Gold 150,000[45]
Canada (Music Canada)[48] 5× Platinum 1,000,000[47]
Denmark 100,000[49]
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[50] Gold 25,000[50]
France (SNEP)[52] Gold 300,000[51]
Greece 30,000[53]
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[54] Platinum 20,000*
Japan (Oricon Charts) 259,000[28]
Malaysia 4,000[55]
New Zealand (RMNZ)[56] Platinum 15,000^
Norway 115,000[57]
United Kingdom (BPI)[59] Platinum 500,000[58]
United States (RIAA)[60] Platinum 4,000,000[8]
Worldwide 20,000,000[7]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


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