The Bee Gees "Saturday Night Fever" Album Released
Updated: Dec 29, 2021
Saturday Night Fever is the soundtrack album from the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever starring John Travolta that featured five hit songs including "Staying Alive", "Night Fever", "How Deep is Your Love", "Jive Talking" and "More Then a Woman". The soundtrack was released on November 15, 1977. It is one of the best-selling albums in history, and remains the second-biggest-selling soundtrack of all time, after The Bodyguard, selling 40 million copies worldwide (double-disc album).
In the United States, the album was certified 16× Platinum for shipments of at least 16 million units. The album stayed atop the charts for 24 straight weeks from January to July 1978 and stayed on Billboard's album charts for 120 weeks until March 1980. In the UK, the album spent 18 consecutive weeks at No. 1. The album epitomized the disco phenomenon on both sides of the Atlantic and was an international sensation. The album has been added to the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress for being culturally significant. To understand the disco phenomenon, it is important to know the Bee Gee's history. This clip gives more background on the Bee Gees:
According to the DVD commentary for Saturday Night Fever, the producers intended to use the song "Lowdown" by Boz Scaggs in the rehearsal scene between Tony and Stephanie in the dance studio, and choreographed their dance moves to the song. However, representatives for Scaggs's label, Columbia Records, refused to grant legal clearance for it, as they wanted to pursue another disco movie project, which never materialized. Composer David Shire, who scored the film, had to, in turn, write a song to match the dance steps demonstrated in the scene and eliminate the need for future legal hassles. However, this track does not appear on the movie's soundtrack. This clip features the song, "Night Fever" and scenes the film:
The Bee Gees's involvement in the film did not begin until post-production. As John Travolta asserted, "The Bee Gees weren't even involved in the movie in the beginning ... I was dancing to Stevie Wonder and Boz Scaggs." Producer Robert Stigwood commissioned the Bee Gees to create the songs for the film. As Robin Gibb asserted:
We were recording our new album in the north of France. And we'd written about and recorded about four or five songs for the new album when Stigwood rang from LA and said, 'We're putting together this little film, low budget, called "Tribal Rites of a Saturday Night". Would you have any songs on hand?', and we said, 'Look, we cant, we haven't any time to sit down and write for a film'. We didn't know what it was about. - Robin Gibb
The brothers wrote the songs "virtually in a single weekend" at Château d'Hérouville studio in France. The first song they recorded was "If I Can't Have You", but their version was not used in the film.
Barry Gibb remembered the reaction when Stigwood and music supervisor Bill Oakes arrived and listened to the demos:
They flipped out and said these will be great. We still had no concept of the movie, except some kind of rough script that they'd brought with them. Maurice Gibb recalled, "We played him demo tracks of 'If I Can't Have You', 'Night Fever' and 'More Than a Woman'. He asked if we could write it more discoey."
The Brothers Gibb then wrote a song called "Saturday Night" but as Maurice explains, There were so many songs called 'Saturday Night' even one by the Bay City Rollers, so when we rewrote it for the movie, we called it 'Stayin' Alive'. Here is the music video:
Recording "Stayin' Alive" was not simple. Engineer Karl Richardson copied a few seconds of drumming from "Night Fever", cut out the piece of tape and glued the ends together, then fed it back into a recorder by a makeshift arrangement to create a new drum track. Drummer Dennis Bryon was unable to attend the recording of "Stayin' Alive", having had to fly back to the UK to deal with a family member's health issue.
The original issue of the album included the original studio version of "Jive Talkin'"; later LP pressings included a version culled from Here at Last ... Bee Gees ... Live. All CD releases have included the original "Jive Talkin'". " Jive Talkin'" was to have been used in a deleted scene taking place the day after Tony Manero's first Saturday night at the disco, but as the sequence was cut for the final film, the song was cut as well. In addition to the Bee Gees songs, additional incidental music was composed and adapted by David Shire. Three of Shire's cues - "Manhattan Skyline", "Night on Disco Mountain" (based on the classical piece "Night on Bald Mountain") and "Salsation" - are included on the soundtrack album as well. Five additional cues - "Tony and Stephanie", "Near the Verrazano Bridge" (both adapted from the Bee Gees' song "How Deep Is Your Love"), "Barracuda Hangout", "Death on the Bridge" and "All Night Train" - while heard in the film, remain unreleased on CD. In 1994, the soundtrack was re-released on CD through Polydor Records. In 2006, the album was re-released on Reprise Records as part of the Bee Gees' regaining control of their master tapes. Here is a clip of the Bee Gee's winning the Grammy for Album of the Year:
To commemorate the movie's 40th anniversary, Capitol Records released a newly remastered version on April 21, 2017, with the original artwork and gatefold packaging. On 17 November 2017, a deluxe box set was released with the original soundtrack, 4 new mixes of "Stayin' Alive", "Night Fever", "How Deep Is Your Love" and "You Should Be Dancing", a collector's book, art prints, a movie poster and a turntable mat. Here is a trailer of the Bee Gee's documentary, "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart".
The soundtrack is the only disco album to do to win an Emmy Award, and one of only three soundtrack albums so honored. In 2012, the album was ranked No. 132 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time", ranked again in a 2020 revised list at number 163. The soundtrack hit the No. 1 spot on the Billboard chart's Pop Album and Soul Album charts. In 2003 the TV network VH1 named it the 57th greatest album of all time, and it was ranked 80th in a 2005 survey held by British television's Channel 4 to determine the 100 greatest albums of all time. Pitchfork Media listed Saturday Night Fever as the 34th best album of the 1970s.
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