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Ray Ricci
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I guess what I've failed to realize is that your loyalty and perspective of the Four Seasons is the 70's version and their personnel. Can't blame you...it was a great line up. Perhaps some of us older fans were loyal to the original members and once that fell apart we had no real connection to any others. It's all about Frankie and how best he was represented on record or on stage.
Please don't give up!!! Jersey Boys fans aren't really Four Seasons fans. They are more interested in theater than the history of the group. Grateful as we are that the play has generated so much needed interest. Without your efforts we may never have gotten to hear: I Wonder Why Make Your Tomorrow Tonight Hymn To Her Lovers Etc. Not to mention the 1974 Florida concert. If not you...then who???
Wow, what an undertaking. As a fan who has played these records and cds over and over again for all these years I've forgotten how they probably should sound. Not being an audiofile I have two concerns. 1. The original quality of the vinyls even at their best aren't nearly as good in comparison to, say, the Beatles or Beach Boys recordings. I don't think their studios employed state of the art equipment and I believe that many of these singles were dubbed over and over by Crewe in order to add his "touch" and make them sound good on the radio. Obviously you loose less and less quality as you over-dub. So, here the expression is that "You can't make chicken salad out of chicken s___t" 2.If you achieve a good quality sound then how will you transfer it? Will digital formats then do them justice?? Can't wait to have access to them. Shouldn't the Partners be doing this????
Great post on a lost gem. I think that the "hat trick" for any pop singer would be to have a hit as a member of a group, a solo hit and, perhaps, a title track of a hit movie. (Maybe this was his bid to do so). Of course, "Grease" would eventually come along and complete the mission. At the time I think Valli's voice was at its best. There seemed to be an ease yet confidence in his vocals, including his efforts on "Half & Half". Mostly Joe Scott arrangements by the way. By the time Motown came along he seemed to be trying too hard. I sensed quite a bit of straining. (not that there weren't recordings). I personally don't think that he gained this same confidence back until the "Close Up" lp.
I don't recall Denny ever writing with Gaudio..could be wrong, but I find that interesting. Denny certainly filled the void during the mid 60's when Gaudio seemed to run dry. Also, I find it interesting that Gaudio and Calello took on that movie soundtrack (Who Killed Teady Bear?)at a point when the Seasons were very much popular. To me it shows how two guys just in their early twenties wanted to branch out. Calello living his dream as a conductor/arranger and Gaudio who I think just wanted to be a songwriter.
Fantastic! He seemed to nail the relationship (musically) between he, Crewe and Gaudio. The ghost arranging thing still confuses me though...I've heard Charlie take direct credit for some of what Artie claims he did.(especially for Lou Christie) What a glorious time it must have been for all those involved. The time difference between recording dates and record releasses is interesting.(eg, The Puppet Song). I think we would all love to hear more from Artie and Charlie about how these songs were constructed. I'll bet just what they've forgotten could fill volumes. I've always believed that the electric piano he played on "Summer In The City" was very similar to his arrangement on "Beggin". Coincidence? Great interview!
Great research. It's perhaps difficult to put youself back in time and speculate why they would even attempt a Copa lp. I think that even afer a few successful pop hits they weren't sure that it would last. Contemporaries like Bobby Darin and Sam Cooke had already moved to attract the adult audiences and at that time it was a huge accomplishment to work that room. Later, many more acts would follow suit. Also at that time the folk music scene was kicking up. Maybe pop music was moving in this direction? I don't think that it was unintentional to market the "Born To Wander" lp as selection of folk-flavored songs while the cover photo showed them in typical college garb using accoustical guitars. Well, the Beatles, the British invasion and Dylan going electric changed the 60's musical direction. The Four Seasons found continued success in arrangements that were more in the pop mainstream. It was perhaps too little, too late with "Genuine Immitation Life"...but they tried! Even in the late 60's early 70's pop music started leaning towards more Country arrangements. And even there you would see some of their lp selections and their live shows acknowledging this style. By the mid 70's who would have predicted Disco? And, once more, you have Gaudio's first release for the group a disco-flavored offering called "Who Loves You". Obviously, Valli jumped onto this bandwagon completely with many of his single releases. The 80's and 90's saw them wanting to put the kids back on the dance floor (a nod to Northern Soul?) All in all it's been a great ride. It's been especially fun to see songs like "To Give" and "Beggin'" get new treatments. What changes...What a group...what a legacy!
Wow! What a glorious few weeks it must have been for the UK fans. I've been watching all the live videos of the various venues. What really stands out is the audience appreciation and enthusism. Thanks for making "The Night" a hit. Hearing their live version is such a treat..hope he keeps it in the show here in the States.
As a 50 year fan, I too struggle to understand why the partners won't make older material available and therefore dissing the loyal fan base. But really, how many of us are there? The truth of the matter is that through Jersey Boys countless new fans have emerged. They are only interested in the hits and maybe the story. School musicals and dozens of tribute bands have emerged capitalizing on the catalog (including the Hit Men). We are blessed that Frankie who still loves performing so much has been able to maintain a great live show. It's energetic and entertaining. (as opposed to the current BB tour which looks like a bunch of old guys stuck in a recording studio) Wilson can't sing anymore ..it's painful to listen to him, but I guess that's OK... neither can McCartney or Elton John. As Lee Shapiro has said..it's all about the songs. It's pleasing that you can now add Beggin' to other Gaudio compositions that have finally found their way into pop culture. None of the new Valli fans really care about what was left on the cutting room floor or broken promises from years ago. What pleases us old fans is the recognition, finally,of the music.
The truly unfortunate truth about the quality of these recordings is what ended up being fortunate for the partners. Keeping the masters proved to be ingenious, but the less than state of the art conditions and procedures of these home made studios left a void in recovery and quality. I was listening to a 5.1 version of Pet Sounds the other day and the quality is superb. Not sure if it was the quality of the recording or the way it was recorded and maintained, but 40 plus years later... it sounds brilliant. The same is true for the Beatles catalog. I think that most of the Four Seasons 60's material was made for automobile AM momo radios stressing bass which usually suffers on stereo mixes. Stereo was an alternative while the record companies tried to market the new technoplogy. I just don't think the partners gave a lot of thought to this. On another note, I had hoped to get some background on "Little Boy In Grown Up Clothes" Was it just a one-off recording? Maybe a shelf item that they gave to VJ as part of the contract? The arrangement and style doesn't sound anything like other recording during that period. I know it was packaged as part of that fake live LP, but it clearly was not recorded at the same time.
It's interesting that The Hitmen" will be performing on June 30th in Bristol, RI., only a few blocks from where John Paiva was raised. John! Can you hear me? Why don't you come back for this performance? We would then have about 80% of that Seasons line up in tact. Now, if Frankie could could come back right after his Royal Albert Hall date on June 26th and join them....that would make the re-union complete. "I Can Dream....Can't I?" Ray
You're correct. Not many Americans understood Northern Soul especially in 1971. I was lucky to live in England during that period and I'm not sure I quite understood it. It seemed to me that Tamla-Mo was much more appreciated in the UK than America. We went through most of those great singles in the 60's but pretty much left it behind as the new decade approached(especially as a dance medium).I think America really stopped dancing by then, while of course in the UK you never stopped. So when "You're Ready Now" became a hit I didn't have a clue as to why. Dance clubs, Discos they were so European...how could this have been a factor? Obviously it was. In my opinion, that song was plucked from from the catalog because it had that simple Motown feel. I think that Phillips followed it up with "The Proud One" which went nowhere...of course not. Unless I'm wrong, the purity of Northern Soul was that the public picked the records..not the artists or the record companies. It was already there!!
One would think that Jersey Boys would have inspired a new interest in this vaulted material much like Motown's releasing "Inside You" around the time of their comeback in the mid 70's. The Hip-O-Select offering was pretty much a re-release of known material, but, it did give us the extended version of "Charisma" which probably no one would ever have heard. I think the obvious problem is that the play has become of greater interest than the group themselves. (that's OK with the Partners as we know). Perhaps if Valli's 2006 Romancing lp had achieved greater success, Motown would have gone the extra mile to find a way of preparing a release pending Partners approval, of course. Other than your great efforts, there simply is no demand. Please, please keep fighting the good fight for all of us who care.
Great research and sourcing from the "One's who were there". It always amazes me how much good information is gathered on these subjects from literally 3,000 miles away! I live in the Northeast and we're blessed to have the opportunity to see Frankie several times a year as well as Jersey Boys, but when it comes to the burning questions regarding the past, nobody here explores it like Chameleon! Someday maybe we can look into all the fine musicians who participated on each track. I guess the records, if any, are quite vague. To this day I still don't know who the drummer was on "Big Girls" and "Walk like A Man". Some say Buddy Saltzman, others say Panama Francis....then there's Gary Chester?
My goodness. I don't think it's fair to pit one against the other. I think they were very different types of producers, both had success and their share of failures. I give major credit to Crewe for the success of The Four Seasons. His ability to produce "radio friendly" pop songs by scores of different artists is legendary. Gaudio, Linzer, Randall and Calello all learned a great deal from Crewe. Certainly, as far as The Four Seasons, Crewe needed Gaudio and vise-versa. From my point of view, Crewe's creativity and industry connections were his greatest strenths. He was an inside guy who knew how to make a record and most importantly get it played. I guess his lyrics were also important, but the lyrics without the music are merely poems. Gaudio on the other hand was a musician as well as a performer (albeit a reluctant one). It can be argued that if he spent all of his time in the early years on songwriting and producing he was bound to have more success. While Crewe took new talent and nurtured it, Gaudio did the same but also attracted established performers like Sinatra, Striesand and Diamond. (I know, Crewe did some work with Bobby Darin) Now, "Jersey Boys" success is pretty much a Bob Gaudio controlled project from the beginning. The fact that he was able to pull this off in a totally different medium is perhaps a final testimony to his talents. Success has many fathers, as they say, and The Four Seasons catalog together with the incredible experience that is "Jersey Boys" in no different. Anyway, it's a great subject but let's celebrate both gentlemen's body of work.
Finally, a Seasons version of the "Beach Boys Party" lp.
I think Charles has it right. There just aren't enough of us fans to support an investment of outtakes, alternates etc. While The Partnership intentionally used independent record labels, and studios it served the critical need of ownership but left the protection of the music wide open. Even during the golden years, think of how Rag Doll was such a shoot-from-the-hip, sparse production compared to what Wilson and Spector were creating at the time. The "We're only as good as our last hit" mentality was real. Who was thinking at the time about the concept of preserving outtakes? I think the fact that Capital and other majors had this inventory actually created the demand. I personally would love to hear anything that could be dredged up...I'd pay money to get a hold of this stuff! Unfortunately, we are the Chosen Few, but still just a few.
Sounds like Jake on the first verse but to me it's clearly Frankie after. Very strange.
Don't look now, but, there may be yet another version of "The New Four Seasons" coming. Frankie's current singers have a video touting them as such. I think they'll be featured in Valli's upcoming Sinatra tribute cd (if ever/when ever). Some live shows have included versions ofSinatra's "Witchcraft" and "All Of Me" with the singers providing lush harmonies.
Toggle Commented Mar 8, 2011 on Casey Chameleon Goes AWOL at chameleon
I may have missed that article. Do I understand that there may be material from the Phillips years? (64 - 70). I thought it was all lost. Ray
Toggle Commented Feb 14, 2011 on Future Years at chameleon
Nice track. The early Motown efforts seemed to be more Motown than Seasons while these later ones nod to their classic harmonies. Sounds a bit unfinished or maybe not a final mix. Perhaps it's lucky for Frankie that it wasn't released and became a hit. Can't see how he could hit and sustain all thise high notes in concert.
What's better than to hear the original Four Seasons harmonize during the bridge? (I believe Nick was at these sessions) Hearing these takes almost 40 years later is priceless. Ray
Fantastic! Can't wait to hear more tracks. Seems as though the background singers are "hired hands", sounding similar to the singers on Bobby Darin's Mowtown product of the same period.(Probably others as well) However, the drumming sounds similar to that used on the 72 "Chameleon" lp. As you say, Crewe/Motown weren't about to waste recorded arrangements. Not unlike the early 60's Motown recordings where the musicians were all the same...they just seem to rotate the artists. This is all so interesting. Keep up the great work Ray Ricci
Great research, great article! Real "warts and all" type of stuff. Far be it for me to defend the principles, but, having gone through all that they had, protecting their brand was essential. That carries to this very day with the recent events surrounding Jersey Boys, copycats and the like. I personally loved that 70's lineup, but look at where it put Joe Long.
I'm not sure that it has peaked just yet. There are still a dozen US cities left to tour in 2010. Broadway showed strong attendance over the Thanksgiving period (typical) I can't speak for the UK or Australia. I did hear in a recent Valli interview that they were looking into other European venues and also mentioned that a movie was to be several years away. I'm sure there were some shrewed marketing reasons for his comments. The money that these guys are realizing can't be overlooked. Their ship has come in and, of course, they will do anything to keep this buzz going at the expense of any of our other wants. I remember when the play caught on in LaJolla I thought "Hurry up and release a DVD before this thing sizzles". (Let alone making it to Broadway and beyond for almost 5 years.) My regrets are that we probably won't ever get to hear the Mowtown tracks nor will we see Valli enter the top 100 singles ever again.
Toggle Commented Dec 4, 2009 on Has Jersey Boys peaked? at chameleon