The Warner Bros. Years 1987-1991

by: Bee Gees

For the Bee Gees, The Warner Bros. Years run 1987 through 1991 with three albums, two of them major international hits. Those albums are 1987's E.S.P. and 1989's One, records that found the trio skillfully navigating the space between adult contemporary and emerging new jack swing, with the remaining record being 1991's High Civilization, a full-bodied embracement of modern R&B that is stiffly noisy and thoroughly 1991. All three records are boxed up on this 2014 Rhino set with the entirety of the 1989 One for All concert, previously available only as a truncated home video, released as a two-disc supplement. E.S.P. and One contain bonus remixes and demos -- these expanded editions have been released in markets outside of the U.S. -- but High Civilization is merely remastered, a sign of how it's the poor relation of this group (upon its original 1991 release, it didn't chart in the U.S. but, then again, it wasn't really promoted). It is indeed a curiosity, an artifact of all the terrible production ideas of the early '90s, but the other albums are quite strong; they represent their time but are also cannily crafted, filled with strong yet slyly savvy adult contemporary songs. Outside of the live show, which is a professionally pleasing artifact of its time -- both the '60s and '70s hits are subjected to the synthesized clank of the '80s -- the extras are single remixes, extended versions, and edits, the kind of thing that sparks the attention of collectors but doesn't seduce others. Nevertheless, this cleanly produced, simple box is a nice summation of the last great -- and last successful -- period of the Bee Gees' career, available at an affordable price point that will not disappoint. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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