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While hardcore Bee Gees fans wanting a comprehensive anthology of the masterful pop trio's work will be happier with the generous two-disc THEIR GREATEST HITS: THE RECORD, anyone desirous of a concise thumbnail sketch of the group's output will be well served by NUMBER ONES. As indicated by the title, all the tracks here were No. 1 hits, from late-1960s ballads such as "World" and "Massachusetts" to '70s disco staples "Night Fever" and "Stayin' Alive," and beyond.Listening to some of the Gibb Brothers' early smashes, it's remarkable how they wedded such frothy pop melodies to such undeniably dark subjects; "I've Gotta Get a Message to You" is sung from the perspective of a murderer on death row, and "I Started a Joke" finds the narrator the subject of a cosmic joke whose punch line he delivers by dying. The Gibbs clearly lightened (and limbered) up a bit by the '70s, when soul and dance influences crept in ("Jive Talkin'," "You Should Be Dancing"), but never lost their knack for heavenly ballads ("How Deep Is Your Love," "Too Much Heaven"). Sadly, the one new song here ("Man in the Middle") is a tribute to Maurice Gibb, whose 2003 death caused the end of the group, but NUMBER ONES stands as a testament to the magic the three brothers made together.
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