The resurgent Bee Gees hit #1 in the US and UK and #7 nationally with Night Fever, which started life with the title Saturday Night at Robert Stigwood’s suggestion in recognition of the original Nik Cohn article about the Brooklyn disco dance scene, and the fact that this was the working title of the movie that Stigwood was about to make.The Bee Gees had already written a song with the title Night Fever and convinced Stiggy that this was a more marketable and relateable song title that his, which Barry thought was boring and uncool.
Barry Gibb’s nascent falsetto proved to be a new dimension of the Bee Gees sound and a unique addition to their impeccable harmonies, and so it proved to be, pushing the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack to #1 around the world and 25 million in global sales. Under the influence of producer Arif Mardin of Atlantic Records, at Miami’s Criteria Studios, the Bee Gees had emerged with a more contemporary disco-tinged version of R&B, which was reflected in their next three albums – Main Course, and after the Bee Gees changed record labels, with their new production team of Albhy Galuten and Karl Richardson, on the albums Children of the World and Saturday Night Fever, from which Night Fever was lifted in February 1978. It was the third consecutive US #1 taken off the album following the prior success of How Deep Is Your Love and Stayin’ Alive. Below Bee Gees musos – L-R Alan Kendall (guitar), Dennis Bryon (drums), Blue Weaver ( keyboards/synths)
The song’s creation provided a unique insight to the creative process within the group, keyboardist Blue Weaver was noodling on the piano when Barry remarked that he liked the tune Weaver was playing on a string synthesizer, subconsciously Weaver was recalling the string arrangement on Percy Faith’s 1960 hit instrumental, Theme From A Summer Place, Barry began to sing over the riff, the brothers gathered around together on a nearby stairway, and completed the lyrics via typical doo wop-style harmonizing. Drums and acoustic guitar were then recorded, followed by piano, bass, and electric guitar, melding a “scratchy” guitar effect with a liquid, languid backing track.
When the Bee Gees simultaneously held down the top two positions on the US Billboard chats on March 25th 1978 with Stayin’ Alive and Night Fever, they were the first to emulate this feat since the Beatles back in April 1964 when the Fab Four actually claimed all of the top five positions on the US charts with Can’t Buy Me Love, Twist and Shout, She Loves You, I Want To Hold Your Hand, and Please, Please Me.
In that same week in April 1978 the Bee Gees did have five of their songs in the US top ten – two of their own recordings – Stayin’ Alive and Night Fever which were both #1 hits, If I Can’t Have You by Yvonne Elliman and (Love Is) Thicker Than Water by younger brother Andy Gibb, both of which were also #1 hits, as well as Emotion by former Melbourne girl Samantha Sang ( aka as Cheryl Grey), which charted a creditable #3.
It’s also intriguing that the seven Bee Gees songs that ultimately formed part of the movie soundtrack were either written before the movie was actually conceived or in the post-production period after all the dance sequences had already been filmed. John Travolta has revealed that during the filming, he was dancing to Stevie Wonder and Boz Scaggs songs, in fact the producers had tried to secure the rights to Scaggs Lowdown for the soundtrack, but his record company, Colombia, famously turned them down for another disco movie, which was never made!
More Than A Woman was featured on the movie soundtrack in two versions, the original by the Bee Gees, and a second version by Tavares, and it was a typical lushly orchestrated Bee Gees slow-burning romantic ballad, which became a live performance favorite, its euphoric chorus is matched by the poetic verses of Robin ““There are stories old and true / of people so in love like you and me / And I can see myself / Let history repeat itself”. The siblings may have embraced disco dance beats and hung up their balladeer boots, but they knew where they were, and could easily slip into them when required. The Bee Gees did not originally release More Than A Woman as a single, but it did appear on a number of compilation and Greatest Hits albums over time, and did actually creep onto the singles charts in some countries – Australia (#31), Italy (#4) and the US (#39)