You Should Be Dancing is perhaps misleadingly subtitled, “My Life With The Bee Gees” since we learn very little about that them or that time. Instead, what have have is a memoir of a decent guy who didn’t do drugs or much alcohol, only had one affair (and ended up marrying that woman after the death of his ex wife), came from a grounded/loving/supportive family, and is far too much of a nice and boring guy to give insight and depth about the Bee Gees, the times, or any other musicians he worked with/met. He worked with the Bee Gees closely during their peak years but we learn very little other than this: (and you have to read between the lines to get this much) Robin was touchy, Maurice was a comedian, and big brother Barry the controlling one.
The book is told chronologically and in a very straight-forward (and benign) fashion. e.g., “I was born on x date in x place to x parents.” Because he had such supporting parents, there wasn’t a lot of conflict other than giving up the electrician career in order to pursue the more nebulous work as a drummer. But there were a lot of lucky breaks that meant his skill as a drummer wouldn’t be overlooked. Most of the first half of the book is building his reputation in bands that were a hit in the UK – Amen Corner especially.
The Bee Gees aspect doesn’t come into play until nearly 3/4 of the way through this autobiography. Mostly, we get some reminiscences on how a couple of songs were formed but very little on the background/personalities/life with the Bee Gees. Indeed, he even lived in the same house with them and still we only get safe topics such as the different people involved in making the records, Barry’s wife’s friendly Scottish family, and a lot of “We went on tour.”
The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack recording gets around 10 pages but mostly we are talking about getting new houses and Bryon’s family’s health issues that were occurring back in Wales (cancer with the father and Alzheimer’s with the mother). Oddly, Bryon gets specific about streets he drove down in LA, Wales, and Miami but everything else in the book amounts to topics lightly touched upon. Things happen – but they aren’t very interesting or informative, honestly. Even Andy Gibb’s tumultuous life (and Bryon worked with him quite a bit) only merits a few pages and amounts to pretty much saying, “He dealt with the pressures of stardom poorly but I never saw him doing drugs or alcohol.”
So although Bryon was with the Bee Gees for some six years, the book is really not about that time. It’s about Bryon’s life as a musician, issues with his family/wife, and the contributions he made to various bands/people. In other words, it’s a lot of “gee whiz, I jammed with Hendrix! and I talked with Michael Jackson” and they were both nice guys!” without offering any insight, thoughts, or speculation based upon his experiences with those people. This book has virtually no opinions whatsoever – so what’s the point?
Certainly, no one mentioned (including the author himself) needs to worry about any salacious gossip from this book. It is squeaky clean and makes a nice, if not very diverting, read. And while I despise gossip rags and celebrity iconification, what I do look for in a book like this is insight from someone who is there – who actually knows these people. But there was none of that to be found – only platitudes and superficial memories. Even the forwards were banal plaudits best left at the back of the book. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.