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Adrian Woods

Bee Gees (Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb)
Writing Credits:

Recorded live in Melbourne, Australia in November 1989, this release captures the third stop on The Bee Gee's "One for All" world tour.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English LPCM Stereo 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 107 min.
Price: $21.98
Release Date: 2/2/18

• Booklet


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Bee Gees: One For All Tour Live in Australia [Blu-Ray] (1989)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 28, 2018)

40 years after the fact, it can be tough to remember how omnipresent the Bee Gees were in the aftermath of the hugely successful Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. In March 1978, the Bee Gees wrote and/or performed five of the US top 10 singles, a parallel to a feat not accomplished since the Beatles had all of the top five singles in spring 1964.

Indeed, the Bee Gees’ popularity drew multiple comparisons to the fame of the Fabs years earlier – comparisons that became more inevitable when the Bee Gees starred in 1978’s ill-fated Sgt. Pepper’s movie. That didn’t go well, and it started the Bee Gees’ popular decline.

The band’s momentum remained high enough for 1979’s Spirits Having Flown to become a major hit – with three US number one singles – but as the 1980s rolled around, the wheels came off the bus. 1981’s Living Touch flopped, and the Bee Gees never quite got back on track.

1983’s Staying Alive soundtrack did reasonably well, and 1997’s Still Waters marked a decent comeback. Nonetheless, clearly their salad days remained back in the 1970s.

Their second release since Staying Alive, 1989’s One didn’t change the Bee Gees’ commercial fortunes, but it got them back on the road for their first full tour in a decade. We get a look at this show via One For All Tour: Live in Australia.

Shot at Melbourne’s National Tennis Center circa November 1989, All boasts a setlist from across the band’s long career. One provides the title track, “Ordinary Lives”, “Tokyo Nights”, “House of Shame” and “It’s My Neighborhood”. 1987’s ESP offers “You Win Again” and “Giving Up the Ghost”.

Despite its status as the Bee Gees’ last major hit, 1979’s Spirits Having Flown boasts only “Too Much Heaven”, and 1977’s Saturday Night Fever soundtrack brings just “How Deep Is Your Love” and “Stayin’ Alive”. 1976’s Children of the World contributes “You Should Be Dancing”.

From there, 1975’s Main Course delivers “Jive Talkin’” and “Nights On Broadway”. 1972’s To Whom It May Concern features “Run to Me”, and 1971’s Trafalgar offers “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart”. 1970’s Two Years On brings “Lonely Days”.

1968 boasted two Bee Gees albums, and Horizontal posts “Massachusetts” and “World”, while Idea spots “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You” and “I Started a Joke”. “Words” was also a non-album 1968 single.

Actually their third album, 1967’s Bee Gees 1st brings “To Love Somebody”, “Holiday” and “New York Mining Disaster 1941”. The band’s debut, 1966’s Spicks and Specks includes the title song. We also get “covers” of songs Barry Gibb gave to others: “Heartbreaker” and “Islands in the Stream”, and “Juliet” was a 1983 solo single from Robin Gibb.

Perhaps because I was a kid in the mid-late 1970s, I’m firmly a fan of “disco Bee Gees”, and I admit I don’t much care for their work pre-1975 or post-1979. I own a career-spanning four-CD Bee Gees boxed set and almost never play anything other than Disc Three, the one with the dance songs.

Believe me, I’ve tried to embrace the other tunes, but I can’t do it – 1960s Bee Gees just seem maudlin, mawkish and over-emotive. Because of this, the One For All setlist acts as something of a disappointment because it semi-negates the band’s 1975-1979 run.

This seems to have been a conscious choice. Honestly, I can’t think of a logical explanation for the omission of hits like “Night Fever” or “Tragedy” other than a desire by the Bee Gees to distance themselves from their “disco years”.

Which makes some sense given the backlash they encountered in the early 1980s. In truth, disco never really died – it just turned into “dance music” along the lines of Madonna’s early work – but the term “disco” became an epithet, and the Bee Gees were viewed by many as anathema due to their connection to the genre.

This wasn’t fair, and eventually the public saw the value in this material again, but I suspect those backlash-oriented wounds remained raw in 1989. Six songs from four of the band’s most successful albums just seems like a choice to avoid that period.

Because One For All avoids the “disco years” so much, I probably shouldn’t enjoy the concert. To my pleasant surprise, the older material I dislike on record works pretty well live.

Honestly, I think a lot of my disdain for “pre-disco” Bee Gees comes from the whiny vocals. I realize this may cause head-scratching, as the falsettos of the dance years can be nails/chalkboard for many, but I don’t mind those vocals – it’s the bleating, vibrato-heavy older stuff that rubs me the wrong way.

Done live in 1989, Barry, Robin and Maurice largely avoid those old vocal excesses. Because of this, I can enjoy the songs’ strengths better and not find myself put off by the singing.

The older songs also get a little more oomph on stage when divorced from the studio production choices. No, the tunes don’t rock, but they boast a more muscular feel and seem less like music you’d hear in a china teapot store.

As a live band, I can’t claim the Bee Gees seem especially dynamic, and I wish they’d chat more. There’s a rich history there, and it’d be nice to hear them talk a bit about the songs and their career.

Still, they largely deliver the goods as a band, and that’s the most important factor. While One For All Live doesn’t present a killer live show, it represents the music well.

The same goes for director Adrian Woods’ decisions. One For All Live uses a tasteful selection of shot and editing choices that allow us to get a good feel for the show without distracting gimmicks.

All of this leaves One For All Live as a nice representation of the Bee Gees’ performance skills. With a fairly broad set and good performances, it turns into a satisfying product.

The Disc Grades: Picture D+/ Audio B+/ Bonus D-

Bee Gees: One For All Tour Live in Australia appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Taken from a nearly 30-year-old video source, this wasn’t an attractive presentation, but it looked about as good as I could expect.

Sharpness varied. Close-ups looked reasonable but anything beyond that range tended to appear fairly soft and fuzzy. Mostly the picture came across as muddy and without great delineation.

Moiré effects and jagged edges presented minor distractions, but artifacts were a concern, as many objects featured a distinct glow around them. Some of this seemed to result from the lighting, but it appeared a little severe to discount totally based on that factor, as moderate haloes could be seen.

Source flaws didn’t seem apparent, though some video noise showed up at times. Colors tended toward a heavy feel, as they were usually overwhelming. This meant the hues would be dense and thick, without much accuracy.

Black levels appeared fairly flat and lackluster, while shadow detail was too opaque. Low-light situations seemed murky and impenetrable.

Despite the objective ugliness of the presentation, I can’t say I’m disappointed. It’s rare to find appealing video images from the 1980s, so All matched with expectations and probably seemed about as strong as it could.

As one anticipates from a concert presentation, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundfield focused on the front, where it showed strong stereo imaging. Lead vocals appeared firmly set in the middle.

The instruments were accurately located and they demonstrated nice breadth and delineation. I could distinguish the various instruments with ease, as they were placed in a natural and clear manner. They also blended together smoothly to create a forward soundstage that consistently created an involving setting.

As for the surrounds, they played a bigger than expected role. In addition to the crowd noise, some instrumentation – mainly guitars and keyboards – popped up in the rear channels. This was subdued enough that it didn’t feel distracting or gimmicky.

Audio quality was solid. Vocals worked fine, as they replicated the desired impressions well – though I couldn’t help but question how “live” they were.

The singing often left me with an impression that judicious re-recording occurred, as the show just didn’t “sound live” in the way I’d expected. Still, that’s just a suspicion, not something I know for sure, and the vocals came across well in any case.

The rest of the track also showed good clarity and a dynamic tone. The instruments remained crisp and vivid during the concert. Bass seemed warm and full. I felt very pleased with the high quality of this soundtrack.

In terms of extras, the disc includes a booklet. It provides photos, credits and an essay from John Merchant. It’s not much, but it adds a little value.

We don’t find the Bee Gees in their “classic years” via One For All Tour Live in Australia, but the performance nonetheless showcases the band’s musical strengths. It offers a broad setlist and an engaging show. The Blu-ray provides very good audio with bland visuals and minor supplements. I’d like to see a 1970s Bee Gees concert someday, but until then, One For All acts as a nice view of the band on stage.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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