Barry Gibb, “In the Now” (Columbia Records)
If anyone had said the Bee Gees’ music would stand the test of time, most serious music people would have scoffed.
Rulers of the disco era, the fraternal purveyors of nine #1 hits, including “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever,” seemed destined to have their songs trotted out for nostalgic purposes only — on Oldies Night, say, in the lounge of the airport Holiday Inn.
But then Al Green covered “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” so well no one else had to sing it again. And songs like “How Deep Is Your Love” showed staying power with their delicate sense of melody.
But this is 2016, several decades on, and the new release up for consideration is “In the Now.” It comes from the last surviving Bee Gee, Barry Gibb, who soldiers on without his late brothers, Robin and Maurice.
Gibb, who did a nostalgia tour a few years ago, is doing something braver now: offering original music. The songs, co-written with his two sons, are sometimes corny and too wordy.
But Gibb still has a striking sense of melody, and there are poignant lyrics here — most notably on songs that are themselves nostalgia trips, like “End of the Rainbow” and “Home Truth Song.” Gibb seems to honor his brothers on that one when he sings: “We stand together in a one-man show.”
Will the new songs hold up? Hey, no predictions here.
A lot of us were wrong the first time.