Too Much Heaven

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"Too Much Heaven"
Single by Bee Gees
from the album Spirits Having Flown
B-side "Rest Your Love on Me"
Released 24 October 1978 (UK)
21 November 1978 (US, Canada)
Format Vinyl record (7" 45 RPM)
Recorded July 1978
Criteria Studios, Miami, Florida
Genre R&B, soul
Length 4:58
Label RSO
Writer(s) Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb
Producer(s) Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Albhy Galuten
Karl Richardson
Certification Platinum (RIAA)[1]
Bee Gees singles chronology
"Night Fever"
(1978)
"Too Much Heaven"
(1978)
"Tragedy"
(1979)
Not to be confused with Too Much of Heaven.

"Too Much Heaven" is a song by the Bee Gees, which was the band's contribution to the "Music for UNICEF" fund. They performed it at the Music for UNICEF Concert on 9 January 1979. The song later found its way to the group's thirteenth original album, Spirits Having Flown. It hit #1 in both the United States and Canada. It also rose to the top three in the United Kingdom. In the US, it would become the fourth of six consecutive #1s, tying the record set by the Beatles for most consecutive #1 songs.

Robin Gibb reportedly said on the Bee Gees' interview for Billboard in 2001 that this track was one of his favorite songs of the Bee Gees.[2]

Background and recording[edit]

Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb and Maurice Gibb wrote this track with "Tragedy" in an afternoon off from the making the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band movie, that same evening, the Gibbs wrote "Shadow Dancing" for Andy Gibb (but that song was later credited to all four Gibbs)[3]

The recording process was the longest of all the tracks on Spirits Having Flown as there are nine layers of three-part harmony, creating 27 voices, though the high falsetto voices are the most pronounced in the final mix:[4]

  • Barry on falsetto lead three times
  • falsetto high harmony three times
  • falsetto low harmony three times
  • Barry on natural voice lead three times
  • high harmony three times
  • low harmony three times
  • Barry, Robin and Maurice together on lead three times
  • high harmony three times
  • low harmony three times[4]

Imbued with their falsetto style, it is also notable for being one of two songs on the album featuring the Chicago horn section (James Pankow, Walt Parazaider and Lee Loughnane); the other track that features the Chicago members is "Search, Find", in return for the brothers' appearance on the Chicago song "Little Miss Lovin'". On its demo version, Barry begins with count-in. This track does have some backing vocals. The demo lacks the full orchestral feel of the final song.

Release[edit]

"Too Much Heaven" was released nine months after "Night Fever". At the time, this had been the longest gap in The Bee Gees' distribution of singles since 1975.[citation needed]

The single "Too Much Heaven" was released in the late autumn of 1978 (it had originally been intended for use in the John Travolta movie Moment By Moment, but was pulled before the film's release reportedly because Barry Gibb thought the movie was awful when he was shown a rough cut),[citation needed] and started a slow ascent up the music charts. In the first week of 1979, preceding the Music for UNICEF Concert, the single first topped the charts in both the United States and Canada. In the United Kingdom, the single peaked at number three late in 1978. A slow ballad that was unlike the previous two singles off the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, Barry Gibb noted that the group wanted to "move in an R&B direction, still maintaining our lyric power, and our melody power as well."[citation needed] In the summer of 1978, the Gibb brothers announced their latest project at a news conference at the United Nations in New York City. All of the publishing royalties on their next single would go into UNICEF, to celebrate the International Year of the Child, which was designated to be 1979. The song earned over $7 million in publishing royalties. Then-United Nations Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim heralded the move as "an outstanding and generous initiative."[citation needed]

The Bee Gees were later invited to the White House, where President Jimmy Carter thanked the group for their donation. At the ceremony, the brothers presented Carter with one of their black satin tour jackets. Carter remarked that he was "not a disco fan" but knew enough about their music because his daughter Amy was a big fan.[citation needed] In later years, the brothers performed the song with only Barry's guitar and keyboards, with all three singing in their normal range. This version was part of a medley the brothers did as part of their All for One Australian concert, and is also included on the Tales from the Brothers Gibb box set alongside the original version.

"Too Much Heaven" also reached #2 in Cash Box charts in six weeks between 30 December 1978 and 3 February 1979 behind Chic's "Le Freak".[5][6]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Sales and certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[24] Platinum 150,000^
France (SNEP)[25] Gold 728,000[26]
United Kingdom (BPI)[27] Gold 500,000
United States (RIAA)[28] Platinum 2,000,000^
Total certified sales: 3,150,000

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Cover versions[edit]

  • In 1979, the Cantonese singer Alan Tam covered and released it as 唱一首好歌 ("Sing A Good Song").
  • German boy band US5 released a cover of "Too Much Heaven" in 2007 as a duet with Robin Gibb. "Too Much Heaven" was their first single with new member Vincent.
  • Norwegian pop duo M2M used the chorus from "Too Much Heaven" in the chorus of their own song "Our Song" - "Nobody gets too much heaven no more / It's much harder to come by/ I'm waiting in line / Nobody gets too much love any more / It's as high as a mountain / And harder to climb". The song can be found on their debut album Shades of Purple.
  • British soul singer Beverley Knight released a cover version of "Too Much Heaven" in 2009 on her album 100%. Knight's version featured backing vocals at the request of Robin Gibb, as they had previously collaborated on the song live.
  • Nana (darkman), German rapper and DJ used the chorus from "Too Much Heaven" in the song "Too Much Heaven" (1997)
  • Paul McCartney recorded this song in December 2004 in Sussex as a tribute to Maurice Gibb for his album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard but not released.[29]
  • Rebecca Conklin, an avant garde gypsy funk sound stylist based in Bucharest, performed an electronic rendition at the Romanian Pavilion of the Shanghai World Expo 2010.
  • American gospel recording group Winans Phase 2,[30] released a cover of "Too Much Heaven" on their 2000 album, We Got Next.
  • In 1999, South Korean singer, 조관우 (Joe Kwan Woo) covered the song on his album Special 99 Edition.[31]
  • The Minneapolis based singer-songwriter Criss Starr, released a cover version of "Too Much Heaven" for his Yours 4Ever CD in 2013.[32]

References[edit]

  1. ^ RIAA Gold & Platinum Searchable Database - Bee Gees Platinum Singles. RIAA.com. Retrieved 29 September 2009.
  2. ^ "The Bee Gees: 35 Years of Music". Billboard: 27. March 24, 2001. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  3. ^ "Tragedy by Bee Gees". Songfacts.com. Retrieved 14 February 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Brennan, Joseph. "Gibb Songs: 1978". Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  5. ^ "Cashbox Top Singles - 1978". Cashbox. Retrieved 14 February 2015. 
  6. ^ "Cashbox Top Singles - 1979". Cashbox. Retrieved 14 February 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h "Songs Written by the Gibb Family on the International Charts - Part 3" (PDF). brothersgibb.org. Retrieved 14 February 2015. 
  8. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (doc). Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  9. ^ a b "Austrian Chart". austriancharts.at. Retrieved 2014-11-09. 
  10. ^ a b "Bee Gees - Too Much Heaven". ultratop.be. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  11. ^ "Canadian Chart". www.collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2014-11-09. 
  12. ^ "Hits of the World". Billboard. March 10, 1979. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  13. ^ "German Chart" (in German). Charts.de GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 2014-08-10. 
  14. ^ "Irish Charts". Irish Charts. Retrieved 2014-11-09. 
  15. ^ "Dutch Chart". Dutch Top 100. Retrieved 2014-11-09. 
  16. ^ a b "Bee Gees - Too Much Heaven". charts.org.nz. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  17. ^ "Hits of the World". Billboard. March 31, 1979. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  18. ^ a b "Bee Gees - Too Much Heaven". swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  19. ^ a b "Swiss Charts" (in German). Charts.de Swiss Hitparade. Retrieved 2014-11-09. 
  20. ^ "UK Charts". The Official Charts Company UK. Retrieved 2014-11-09. 
  21. ^ a b c "US Charts". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2014-11-09. 
  22. ^ "Cashbox Top 100". Cashbox Archives. December 30, 1978. Retrieved 14 February 2015. 
  23. ^ "Cashbox Top 100". Cashbox Archives. February 3, 1979. Retrieved 14 February 2015. 
  24. ^ "Canadian certifications – Bee Gees – Too Much Heaven". Music Canada. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  25. ^ "French certifications – Bee Gees – Too Much Heaven" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved 29 March 2012.  Select BEE GEES and click OK
  26. ^ "Les Singles en Or :" (in French). Infodisc.fr. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  27. ^ "British certifications – Bee Gees – Too Much Heaven". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 29 March 2012.  Enter Too Much Heaven in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search
  28. ^ "American certifications – Bee Gees – Too Much Heaven". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  29. ^ Brennan, Joseph. "Gibb Songs: 2004". Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  30. ^ "Winans Phase 2 - We Got Next CD Album". Cduniverse.com. 2002-07-02. Retrieved 2014-04-07. 
  31. ^ "조관우 - Special 99 Edition [compilation] (1999)". Maniadb.com. 2006-03-28. Retrieved 2014-04-07. 
  32. ^ "CRISS STARR~"Too Much Heaven"". YouTube. 2012-12-07. Retrieved 2014-04-07. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Le Freak" by Chic
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
6 – 13 January 1979
Succeeded by
"Le Freak" by Chic
Preceded by
"Le Freak" by Chic
"Y.M.C.A." by Village People
Canadian RPM number-one single
20 – 26 January 1979
10 – 17 February 1979
Succeeded by
"Y.M.C.A." by Village People
"Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" by Rod Stewart
Preceded by
"Meteor Man" by Dee D. Jackson
Italian number-one single
20 January – 3 February 1979
Succeeded by
"Mi scappa la pipì, papà" by Pippo Franco
Preceded by
"Dreadlock Holiday" by 10cc
New Zealand RIANZ singles chart number-one single
21 – 28 January 1979
Succeeded by
"Le Freak" by Chic
Preceded by
"Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" by Rod Stewart
Spanish number-one single
16 – 22 April 1979
Succeeded by
"Sólo Pienso en Tí" by Victor Manuel
Preceded by
Smurfesangen" by Geir Børresen & Smurfene
Norwegian number-one single
1979
Succeeded by
"Darlin'" by Frankie Miller