Did I have a Bee Gees cover album from the Foo Fighters on my Summer ’21 bingo sheet? Not at all! However, maybe the recent Bee Gees fever should have foreshadowed this endeavor, from the documentary released at the end of 2020 to Barry Gibb’s album focused on reimagining Bee Gees songs in the country genre released earlier this year. Hey, we even found the Best Bee Gees covers ever last summer. When I first read the news about the impending Hail Satin album, I may or may not have busted out the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and passed along the announcement to all of my fellow Foo Fighters admirers. Then the first single from the Foo Fighters’ alter-egos, the Dee Gees, came out, “You Should Be Dancing,” and it was worthy of the hype (that “back-ety-back” part is a nice touch!).
But now that Hail Satin has been released, it raises an important question: Does the rest of Side A continue the fun-loving, genre-bending homage, or does it devolve into a gimmick?
I could see how some listeners might be in the latter camp, but I like to be more generous and say that the whole album is a spirit-lifter. Who am I to tell the Foo Fighters that they can’t go disco in honor of the Bee Gees? The covers are fairly faithful to the originals, so this is the perfect album to sneak on in the background and surprise folks when they start to catch on that the words aren’t being sung by the brothers Gibb.
If you thought the opening track might be a head-turning, yet one-time, falsetto performance from Dave Grohl, you would be wrong. Track two, “Night Fever,” doubles down. That little sound right at the beginning that then lingers throughout, like a cross between swishing mouthwash and record scratching (yes, that’s some technical lingo for you), is more pronounced in this version. The verses are a little punchier here as well, making it clear that the Dee Gees are going for broke, aiming to match the self-confident delivery of the Bee Gees.
In the pivot point of Side A, the Dee Gees deviate from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, with “Tragedy” and assert more of the Foo Fighters style. The original heightens the drama, and the delivery actually reminds a bit of the slightly over-exaggerated storytelling nature of ABBA songs that made the movie Mamma Mia! possible. This version swaps out some of the techno-synths for heavier rock elements making the cover a little more serious sounding.
Lest you think this is just the Dave Grohl show, Taylor Hawkins takes a turn on lead vocals in “Shadow Dancing.” The introductory brass is swapped out for background singers with their “doo”s, “woo”s, and “who”s. Hawkins’s vocals are smooth in the verses, fitting perfectly in with the groove. He enlists the background singers to play a larger role in the chorus to give that lighter sound without putting him on the spot to go full falsetto though.
Wrapping up Side A before launching into live recordings of songs from the Foo Fighters most recent album, Midnight Memories, on the flip side of the album is “More Than A Woman.” Here they go back to faithful instrumentation backup as Grohl faces his biggest test of falsetto abilities yet. To give him a breather, they again use the tactic of joining forces with backup singers in the chorus to keep the sound light. It takes a village to replicate that sound!
I could have listened to another Bee Gees cover or two, but alas, that’s all (for now?). Is there a Bee Gees tune you wish the Foo Fighters would have taken on (my vote is for “Nights on Broadway”)? Let us know in the comments!
Hail Satin Side A Tracklisting:
- You Should Be Dancing (Bee Gees cover)
- Night Fever (Bee Gees cover)
- Tragedy (Bee Gees cover)
- Shadow Dancing (Andy Gibb cover)
- More Than A Woman (Bee Gees cover)