The Four Seasons, Ain’t That A Shame, Vee Jay 1059, 1963
I’ve written about The Four Seasons before, and how they were, for a while, the biggest group in the world. I’ve also written about Vee-Jay Records, and how this little R&B label in Chicago ended up with both The Four Seasons and The Beatles on their roster. This record came out at the time the band and the label had their falling out.
It was the fourth Vee-Jay album released by the group in one year. If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it was. As Candy Girl was reaching its #3 peak chart position, the group began to realize they hand’t been paid for any of it. The group not only sued, but also held back material from the company. Vee-Jay, always desperate for cash, would mine this album for singles and re-titled Re-Releases for a year.
And its not that good of an album! Stay!, a cover song that was a very good cover version, is the best song on it. The rest, however, is not the group’s best material. The group must have been exhausted from all the writing and recording that they were just pooped out. As was their record company, struggling to keep the lights on despite overwhelming success. I just wish it was an album I actually liked..
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Frankie Valli, Closeup, Private Stock 2000, 1975
The Four Seasons were not doing too well by the early 70s. Their records weren’t selling and they were dropped from their record label, Philips. Bizarrely, they signed with Motown Records, who also dropped them after an album and a half. The group paid $4000 to buy one of their unreleased tracks back. It was money well spent, and released as a Frankie Valli solo single, My Eyes Adored You went to #1. This was the album that they made to accompany it.
When I say they, I mean the bedrock partnership of Valli, Bob Gaudio and producer Bob Crewe. By the time this record rolled around, records got released under the name Frankie Valli, The Four Seasons, and Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, but it didn’t matter. It’s all the same people on the records.
The record also has one of the first songs I can think of on a pop record that is longer than 10 minutes. This is not necessarily a disco album, but some of it is proto-disco, with all 10:09 of Swearin’ To God as my evidence. One other fun fact is that the female vocalist is a young Patti Austin. It’s a great album for what it is, and it’s always great to find a long album version of a single that you know so well.
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The 4 Seasons, Working My Way Back To You, Phillips PHS 600-201, 1966
The amazing success of The 4 Seasons musical Jersey Boys not only set box office records, but it increased the value of actual records. It used to be that albums like this by the groups were essentially free, owing to the fact that they really sold well originally but not many people kept them. 4 Seasons greatest hits packages were always available, so holding original albums like this one with only one hit that anyone would know made little sense.
It’s not like The 4 Seasons albums ever had the cache of The Beatles’ or even The Beach Boys for interesting album tracks. There are one or two here I like, but the group never considered their albums as concepts like other groups did. This album is really just a collection of throw aways, plus the one great hit.
As depicted in the show, this album came out just after original bassist Nick Massi left the group. Even though he is pictured on the cover and wrote one of the songs, he neither played or sang on it. After settling on Joe Long as a replacement, the group continued on releasing hit after hit with the “sound” of Frankie Valli becoming one of the greatest pop voices of all time.
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