In late February, less than two months just after Foo Fighters introduced their 10th album in additional than a quarter century as a band, the arena-rock placebo Medication at Midnight (rumor has it Invoice Gates place a chip in it!), they unceremoniously unveiled a disco change ego. Billed, semi-funnily, as the Dee Gees, the Dave Grohl-led six-piece premiered their protect of “You Should Be Dancing” on BBC Radio 2. Grohl—ever the candid each and every-dude—said that the falsetto experiment was influenced by last December’s interesting HBO documentary about the Bee Gees—never intellect that he hadn’t in fact found it.
The stakes could rarely have been reduced. The results were tricky to fault. Recorded with just one-guy multi-platinum mint Greg Kurstin, the veteran band’s stab at the Bee Gees’ nuke-evidence 1976 hit—the initially in a operate of disco-pop smashes that would show up on the subsequent year’s gazillion-offering Saturday Night time Fever soundtrack—is muscular but effectively trustworthy. When Grohl channels Barry Gibb’s horndog dancefloor exhortations (“My girl provides me pow-wah!”), it feels as self-consciously foolish as disco’s monocultural period gave audiences a license to be, from Studio 54 to suburban strip malls. Comprehensively harmless, it is type of a hoot. It would’ve produced a high-quality novelty one.
Hope you’re ready to boogie down: “You Really should Be Dancing” is just the opening monitor on an overall album attributed to the Dee Gees, a History Keep Working day unique titled, semi-funnily, Hail Satin. The relaxation of facet one particular is devoted to loud but loving addresses of four other numbers from the Gibb brothers’ substantial songbook. The 5 tracks on facet two are easy stay-in-studio renditions of Medication at Midnight cuts. Yes, this appears to be superfluous: How lots of Bee Gees covers by Foo Fighters does the earth want? Indeed, it is also conceptually muddled: What do are living versions of new Foo Fighters music have to do with Bee Gees handles or broad-lapeled leisure satisfies? But it is tough to get much too worked up about all this when no one else looks to be. Consider a chill pill, Disco Stu.
Give Foo Fighters credit history for their Bee Gees track range. They don’t rehash “Stayin’ Alive.” They know their lane, and they steer distinct of the British-Australian trio’s 1960s region-soul or ’80s grownup-present-day balladry. They dwelling in on that whirlwind period when the Bee Gees were, by a great distance, the most significant act in the world—the Beatles just after the Beatles, the Kings of Pop before the King of Pop. The issues is, this is acquainted territory, dated given that the early times of the Walkman, so with no at the very least some degree of reinterpretation or examination, Hail Satin pitfalls becoming tiny more than the tightest ever reside-band karaoke.
Probably the finest argument for growing the Dee Gees challenge past an specific song is Foo Fighters’ punchy consider on “Shadow Dancing,” a weirdly haunting 1978 chart-topper—it was pivotal to Marlon James’ Booker Prize-profitable novel A Brief Record of Seven Killings—that was truly recorded by Andy Gibb, younger brother of the three initial Bee Gees, in collaboration with his siblings. Drummer Taylor Hawkins gamely sings guide on this, a fitting decision, and the backing vocalists playfully fill in for the horn and string sections. “Shadow Dancing” ought to have been inescapable when all points Bee Gees-included dominated the radio, but Foo Fighters aid make contemporary sense of it listed here.
Further than that, if you’ve read one eminently capable Foo Fighters go over of a vastly productive disco tune, most likely you’ve heard them all. When they cost back into two far more Saturday Night time Fever staples (the rooster-scratch funk of “Night Fever,” the twinkling sentimentality of “More Than a Woman”), it’s like they are repeating the identical joke with somewhat various inflections, wanting to know if this time they’ll elicit a chortle. The frenzied gallop of “Tragedy,” a successive 1979 chart-topper, helps illustrate how compact of a leap it was to synth-metal like Europe’s “The Ultimate Countdown,” but it also betrays the restrictions of the Dee Gees’ fidelity to their resource materials (the original’s signature “explosion” sound outcome is nowhere to be discovered). So considerably of the Bee Gees’ appeal lay in their brotherly harmonies, their large generation assets, and their particular historic second, none of which can be thoroughly recreated here, no issue the band’s enthusiasm.
Even though Grohl trumpeted Medicine at Midnight as Foo Fighters’ equal to Bowie’s Let’s Dance, you experienced to squint to discern substantially excess degree of disco-tude. The musical whiplash on facet two of Hail Satin is like likely from looking at John Travolta do the hustle in white polyester to looking at him mispronounce the title of Idina Menzel at the Oscars. “Making a Fire” and “Shame Shame” each have a particular strut, but not like that, and the juxtaposition with these kinds of universally relished tracks as the Bee Gees’ biggest hits would do no band’s new new music any favors.
The buttons truly go back again more than the chest hairs on “Waiting on a War,” a Medicine at Midnight highlight that ramps up from winsome ability-pop strums to blazing hard-rock barrage seemingly just to clearly show Foo Fighters can pull it off (or to jolt awake the low cost seats). From there, all obvious disco-band pretenses are set back on mothballs. On “No Son of Mine,” Grohl bites off syllables like James Hetfield clamoring for “Gas.” On “Cloudspotter,” he spits his significant dumb rock lyrics (“Refuse me even though I kiss the sky”) with so substantially hammy fervor that you want to acquire him a $16 draft beer. Even with out the roar of a Madison Sq. Back garden group, the stay-in-studio experience can help remind you that he does not just know how absurd this is—he’s reveling in it.
If Grohl has gotten all over to observing The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Coronary heart, the unfailingly likable musician definitely has some sharp items to say about it. The Gibb brothers—Barry, as well as the late Robin, Maurice, and teenager idol Andy—were the mainstream deal with of disco for the duration of the many years revisited by this album, substantially as the 3 Nirvana users embodied grunge for a pop viewers much more than a ten years later the Miami Sound presaged Seattle’s sound. Grohl also just lately went viral by telling Pharrell that his drums on Nevermind have been “disco beats, dude,” elevating tantalizing concerns about the blurred lines (ugh, sorry) among genres, the fragile and sociologically fraught interplay amongst culture and craft. And Hail Satin tacitly signifies a escalating recognition, even amid the “Led Zeppelin did not write tunes everyone liked, they still left that to the Bee Gees” technology, that much of the disco backlash was rooted in racism and homophobia.
Hail Satin is also inconsequential to assistance really serious arguments. And this isn’t a speech out of The Very last Days of Disco. But more than anything, the Dee Gees document indicates that disco-pop and arena rock are united considerably less by their drum beats than by their shared embrace of the gaudy and willfully absurd. They are welcoming spaces for people today who probably wouldn’t ordinarily line-dance or flash steel horns to act knowingly goofy, to be part of in on a communal gag. For all the deserved cachet accrued more than the earlier pair of many years close to scenes like the Loft and Paradise Garage or unsung auteurs like Arthur Russell, it’s about time that the Bee Gees are getting their reappraisal as well. Disco enthusiasts in 2021 don’t have to fret about losing their edge. They should really be dancing, yeah.
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