Category: The Four Seasons

The Four Seasons – Genuine Imitation Life Gazette

ARTIST: The Four Seasons    MI0002086708

TITLE:  The Genuine Imitation Life Gazette

YEAR RELEASED: 1969

CHART ACTION: #85

SINGLES:  Idaho (#75), Something’s on Her Mind (#98)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No way in heck.

LINEUP: Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, Joe Long.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Trying to stay hip and cool, Bob Gaudio enlists songwriter Jake Holmes and comes up with a cuckoo crazy psychedelic-ish album that is a million miles away from “Sherry”.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Some older fans of the Four Seasons were no doubt confuzzled by the release of this album, especially with the first cut called “American Crucifixion”, a suite with a very ornate production and few vocal hooks. There were three songs total that lasted over six minutes. Such was this album, a doozy of an experiment.

Frankly, the Four Seasons were becoming old and stale, and since 1965, they had only four songs break the Top 10, and their 1968 output was greeted with meager sales and airplay. They needed to do SOMETHING, and well, why not this? All the kids were doing it, along with their erstwhile ‘rivals’, the Beatles (well Vee-Jay records hoped they’d become a rival).

As a sunshine pop / psychedelic album, it’s not bad. It fits in with some of the productions from the more baroque end of sunshine pop. As a Four Seasons album, this is not the one you’re looking for. Forget that Frankie Valli’s singing (you really can’t tell anyway on may tracks) and think of it as some one-shot late 60’s Curt Boettcher studio group.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Gaudio saw Jake Holmes performing, and heard his record that included “Genuine Imitation Life”, and decided to work with him.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: B-: It’s weird. It’s flaky. It’s intriguing. For sunshine pop fans and also for those who like to hear when artists tread off the beaten path.

 

Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons – Jersey Beat: The Music of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons

ARTIST: Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons jersey beat

TITLE:  Jersey Beat: The Music of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: Not this, but their albums all charted until 1972 (except for a weak-ass contractual obligation record)

SINGLES: Top 10: Sherry (#1 US, #6 UK), Big Girls Don’t Cry (#1 US, #13 UK), Walk Like a Man (#1 US, #12 UK), Candy Girl (#3 US), Dawn (Go Away) (#3 US), Ronnie (#6 US), Rag Doll (#1 US, #2 UK), Save It for Me (#10 US), Let’s Hang On (#3 US, #4 UK), Working My Way Back to You (#9 US, #50 UK), I’ve Got You Under My Skin (#9 US, #12 UK), Tell It to the Rain (#10 US, 37 UK), Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (#2 US), C’mon Marianne (#9 US), My Eyes Adored You (#1 US, #5 UK), Swearin’ to God (#6 US), Who Loves You (#3 US, #6 UK), The Night (#7 UK), December 1963 (Oh, What a Night) (#1 US, #1 UK), Grease (#1 US, #3 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Bye Bye Baby (#12 US), Our Day Will Come (#11)

LINEUP: Four Seasons: Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito or Gerry Polci, Nick Massi, Charles Calello, Joe Long, or Don Ciccone. Bob Crewe and other session musicians augmented them in the studio as well.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A massive collection of the Four Seasons and Frankie Valli’s ‘solo’ work, more than you’ll ever need.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After reviewing some individual albums by the Four Seasons & Frankie Valli’s first solo album, it came to me that for the most part that these albums were always going to be “two hits, some quick filler we wrote and a couple of covers to please friends of ours”. So why not just go and review a collection that contains the hits and maybe some of the better B-sides / deep cuts? So, that’s what I’m doing. There is ONE Four Seasons LP I am reviewing, and there’s a reason for that when it comes up.

What’s there to say about this conglomeration? The soaring voice of Frankie Valli grabbed the headlines and the steady, on-point harmonies of the rest of the group added needed color. In later years, Ciccone or Polci took some leads as Valli’s voice was giving out due to a medical condition. The arrangements, for the most part, are pleasantly pop and kept with the times in pop, with some innovative fuzz guitars in the mid-60’s and a move to disco in the mid-70’s.

There are 76 tracks here, and of course some are going to be duds. But look up at the singles – that’s quite a career of hits and history, and some of the B-sides and lesser hits are worthy of several spins as well thanks to the harmonies and arrangements. Just pick this up and exile what you don’t like. That’s what I’m doing.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: For the most part, whether it’s the Four Seasons or a Frankie Valli solo cut, the whole conglomeration recorded and produced it. It was just a marketing thing. Especially the songs they did as the Wonder Who? which didn’t really fool anyone.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION:  Um, isn’t 76 tracks enough?

GRADE: A-: The best songs are definitely A and A+. There’s some goop here, especially the later you go. It’s the only collection you’ll need, though. (I am keeping the other reviews up, just to let the masses know about the individual albums I heard.)

The Four Seasons – Big Girls Don’t Cry & Twelve Others

ARTIST: The Four Seasons MI0000810841
TITLE: Big Girls Don’t Cry & Twelve Others
YEAR RELEASED: 1963
CHART ACTION: #8
SINGLES: Big Girls Don’t Cry (#1 US, #13 UK), Walk Like A Man (#1 US, #12 UK), Alone (#28 US), Sincerely (#75 US)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: They covered some popular at the time songs.
LINEUP: Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Nick Massi, Tommy DeVito
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Big Girls Don’t Cry went to #1, and who cares if it was on the last album, we need more product, stat!

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Much like their first album, the sophomore effort (OK, they had a Holiday album released in 1962, but I’m skipping that) consists of hits + filler. This time, though, the filler is a little better – better rehearsed and arranged. The non-hit originals? Um…the songs sound like they were banged out in 10 minutes. (Crap, we need two more…)

The two big hits, though, are classic Four Seasons and well worth seeking out on some platform. A couple of the covers are also decent, especially their version of “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”. That song shows off this groups vocal strengths.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The last two singles listed above were songs VeeJay released after the Four Seasons signed to Phillips.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Oh, no.

GRADE: C: Hits plus filler! I’m still seeking for more Four Seasons gems besides the typical, and at least this time I found one. Most of this stuff exiled.

The Four Seasons – Sherry and 11 Others

ARTIST: The Four Seasons sherry
TITLE: Sherry & 11 Others
YEAR RELEASED: 1962
CHART ACTION: #6 US, #20 UK
SINGLES: Sherry (#1 US, #8 UK), Big Girls Don’t Cry (#1 US, #13 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Peanuts.
LINEUP: Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Two hits, ten filler tracks! (Though Peanuts is good. Most of the rest are standards or just throwaways).

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The story of the Four Seasons is well covered, so I’m again just going to focus on what I hear. What I hear is a group that has a distinct sound, but not enough songs to sustain an album. Well, at least in the terms of today.

Back then, of course, it was easier. Gather together singles, B-sides, cast-offs and record some standards in your style and send it to be pressed. Now the Four Seasons have some definite talent, so they pull up the dreck up to fairly listenable. Yet, Valli’s falsetto goes into overdrive especially on “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They had worked on or released 23 singles before hitting with “Sherry”. Endeavor to persevere.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: C- : I’m exiling all but the hits and “Peanuts”. Go find those songs on a compilation. I heard the rest so you don’t have to.