More Than Night Fever . . .

1. Having written about Robin Gibb and his terminal illness a little while back, I wasn’t surprised to hear of his passing last week. I was, however, surprised at how shallow many of the obituaries I read of him were, with many of them focusing on the Bee Gees’ disco era hits, “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever,” neither of which showcased Robin in any capacity beyond harmony vocals. But years before those songs came out, Robin was one of the primary songwriters, and the primary singer of the band, and they had loads of hits in those days, which should have been cited by the media when they covered his passing. So to rectify this inadequate coverage, here are five utterly fantastic early Robin Gibb performances that demonstrate his true vocal talents far better than the Saturday Night Fever-era hits do, as he really deserves better than to be remembered as nothing more than a disco icon:

2. In addition to Robin Gibb, and Donna Summer, and Donald “Duck” Dunn, the musical world also lost another heroic figure this month, though his influence was felt in wider circles than his name was known. Chuck Brown, who passed away on May 16, was the Godfather of Go-Go, and a hugely important musical figure in Washington, DC, around which I spent most of the 1980s. Along with his band, The Soul Searchers, Chuck offered a funky stew of R&B and soul atop long, killer, percussion-heavy rhythmic tracks, with loads of skritchy guitar and call-and-response vocals, guaranteed to make you move and sweat, so long as you had a pulse. What later bands would create using loops and samples, Chuck and Company created by jamming and grooving, live, for as long as it took to get the job done. His music has been widely sampled and appropriated over the years, though outside of Washington, he’s never gotten the name-recognition and love that he deserved. Here’s one of the his best and most famoue early songs, “Bustin’ Loose,” which was originally released in 1978, and shows the prescience of his musical vision. And here’s a later, live clip, which shows the rhythmic behemoth that Go-Go grew into over the years, recorded at Version II of Washington DC’s 930 Club, which aure looks a whole lot nicer and cleaner than Version I at 930 F Street, where I used to hang out in the 1980s:

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