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Bee Gees 

The Studio Albums 1967-1968

Perhaps the most intriguing -- some might argue maddening -- aspect of listening to this six-disc box set that revisits the Bee Gees' first three albums (Bee Gees' 1st, Horizontal and Idea) is just how versatile the group sounded in its pre-disco years. Clearly, this was a group that was trying to catch up to the Beatles' British Invasion success a few years earlier, but the Bee Gees didn't content themselves with being mere imitators.

As each two-disc version of the albums shows (with mono and stereo versions as well as bonus discs of previously unreleased/alternate-take tunes), the Bees were interested in psychedelia, blue-eyed soul and pop folk before toying with prog-rock -- all with a surprisingly melancholic foundation. Through it all, of course, the group settled into its now-familiar three-part harmonies, though Barry Gibb's trademark falsetto had yet to make its presence felt. Still, early hits such as "New York Mining Disaster 1941," "To Love Somebody," "I Started a Joke" and "I've Got a Message for You" get a fresh new listen. 4 stars

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