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Bee Gees' Robin Gibb has died: Five of his best tracks

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The Bee Gees came in threes, but which one was Robin?

Not the tinny falsetto voice that became the hallmark of the trio's pop and disco hits -- that was bearded brother Barry. Robin was the thin one with the wispy hair, wonky overbite and the quivering, tender tenor. When the fraternal group began, in fact, Robin was the lead singer.

After a lengthy battle with cancer, a family spokesperson confirmed Sunday that Robin Gibb has died at age 62.

Here are five tracks from the group's catalog that best showcase Robin's unique contribution to an initially inherent British, folkie-pop sound:

"Lum-de-loo" (1966) -- "Saturday Night Fever" has cemented the Bee Gees' legacy as a ballads and disco group, but they were a folk trio, too. Their first full-length LP in 1967 featured songs about starving artists and mining disasters. Before that, Robin penned this jaunty parlor-piano single about a suicidal mayor who "shot a man in Ellenburg long, long time ago."
Hear the song here

"Another Cold and Windy Day" (1968) -- In the '60s, Coca-Cola convinced dozens of popular singers to record short songs for its "Things Go Better With Coke" ad campaigns. The Bee Gees recorded two, including this oddly dreary tale of a nasty English day -- the swaying, Mellotron-laced tune sounds like something the Hollies would have written if the "Bus Stop" romance had gone sour -- but Robin sings, "I open up some Coke and smile / and then my mind's free for a while." Turn on, tune in, have a Coke, man.
Hear the song here

"How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" (1971) -- Recordings and performances of this song best illustrate the stark differences between Robin's quavering tenor and Barry's soft- falsetto, as well as how the two complemented each other when trading lead vocal duties.

"Nights on Broadway" (1975) -- At the dawn of the group's landmark disco era, this hit showcases how the interplay between Barry and Robin evolved, with Robin playing a crucial earthy, street-level counterpart to his brother's lofty heights.

"The Longest Night" (1987) -- After their commercial triumphs with Barry in the lead, Robin was relegated to usually one token lead vocal per album. The "E.S.P." album was mostly hilariously bad, though Robin's highly effected vocals on this dreamy ballad are some of his best.

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Thank you, your music had a huge influence on my early actraction for music, ballads. You made a difference, we know you were here, God Bless and keep you close!

Amazing that all the articles about Robin Gibb's finest songs never mentions a word about that gem in the "Living Eyes" album, i.e. 'Don't Fall In Love With Me', That performance by Robin is so riveting that you get goosebumps.

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Thomas Conner

Thomas Conner covers pop music for the Chicago Sun-Times. Contact him via e-mail.


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