Some might argue that “Staying Alive,” both song and the movie, heralded in the disco age. It’s certainly a song that everyone knows as it was iconic for the time as has seeped into our musical heritage. Whether you like disco or not, the Bee Gees had a sound that was entirely unique and hasn’t been duplicated since. There’s something about brothers singing together that produces a blend like no other, and it’s evidenced here on this isolated vocal track. Here’s what to listen for.
1. There’s a quarter note delay with a single repeat on the vocals that also has some short room on it. This delay is pretty loud when you hear it by itself, but it disappears into the mix when all the instruments are added (that’s what timed delays do).
2. Barry Gibb’s lead falsetto vocal is by itself, but you’ll hear certain phrases doubled that aren’t obvious in the final mix.
3. The B-section and chorus harmonies are doubled, which is why they’re so thick.
4. The bridge (“Going nowhere…”) full voice track is doubled, but it has a different sound to it than the other sections of the song, which makes me think it was an overdub done on a different day.
5. You can hear a lot of breaths in between words on the lead vocal. Today a producer would be tempted to eliminate them, but they add urgency to the track here.
The Bee Gees were certainly artists of the highest caliber. Great melodies, great changes (although not so much in this song), great lyrics, great harmonies. Always a pleasure to listen to.