The Bee Gees were one of the more popular soft rock/pop bands of the late sixties, but their popularity had all-but-disintegrated in the early seventies—only to be rekindled by their later disco work. Today, the brotherly trio is remembered most for their contributions to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.
The older Bee Gees songs were soft, catchy, heartfelt, acoustic oldies songs. Their disco era was marked by high production standards and a more artificial sound, as well as the trademark falsetto singing. Mr. Natural, produced in 1974, finds itself precariously perched between these two styles—and came out among my favorite Bee Gees albums as a result.
Each one of the eleven songs on this album is strongly produced and clean like the later Bee Gees work, yet Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb sing in their ‘normal’ non-falsetto voices. The lyrics have the same heartfelt tone as the older Bee Gees songs, although they show an added edge that became the hallmark of their later material.
Hardly any two songs are alike on this eclectic work. Some songs could almost be considered country, some are in an oldies style, some simply rock, others are emotional love songs, and a few are quintessential 70s pop songs. For the first time (to my knowledge), the Brothers Gibb included horn parts in some of the more upbeat songs, foreshadowing their horn-laden disco style.
What has always been amazing about the Bee Gees is that, no matter what style they decided to make a song in, it virtually always came out sounding great. That had never been more true than with Mr. Natural. If all you know about the Bee Gees is Stayin’ Alive and Night Fever, this is the perfect album to introduce you to everything else the group has to offer.
4.5 out of 5 stars.