The Four Seasons
Band members Related acts
- Demetri Callas
- bass (replaced Bob Grimm) (1971-73)
line up x (1969)
- Tom DeVito -- vocals
- Bob Gaudio -- vocals, keyboards
- Joe Long -- vocals
- Frankie Valli -- lead vocals
- Joseph Cassiere -- drums
- Vincent Corran -- lead guitar
- Anthony DeAngelis -- woodwinds
- John Holmes -- percussion
- Joseph Labracio -- bass
- Richard Natoli -- woodwinds
- Salvator Piccolo -- trumpet
- Alex Alda (Nick
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Title: The Four Seasons Sing Big Hits by Burt Bacharach ... Hal David ... Bob Dylan
Catalog: PHM 200-193
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: mono pressing; yellow book pressing (2nd issue)
Catalog ID: 4319
I'll readily admit to not being a particularly big Four Seasons fan ... I own about a dozen of their album, but other than a couple of the odder offerings, they've never done a great deal for me. Having said that, I was surprised to find myself picking up this album at a yard sale ... must have been the thought of Frankie Valli covering a Bob Dylan song ...
Produced by Bob Crewe, 1965's "The Four Seasons Sing Big Hits by Burt Bacharach ... Hal David ... Bob Dylan" was one of the year's better examples of truth in advertising. Like the title said, listeners were treated to Frankie Valli and company fighting their way through a side of Bacharach-David covers and a side of Dylan covers. Musically these 12 tracks were all fairly straight-forward covers, with occasional Four Seasons touches. Side one wasn't bad, but the real interesting stuff was found on the flip side. To our ears there's just something inherently funny about hearing Valli and company covering Dylan. Adding Four Seasons' styled harmonies to tracks such as 'All I Really Want To Do', ''Blowin' In the Wind and 'Queen Jane Approximately' was simply hysterical. The album also included Frankie Valli and company in their 'Wonder Who' guise. Valli's hyper-falsetto vocal on Dylan's 'Don't Think Twice' simply had to be heard to be believed. Curiously the collection somehow managed to chart, eventually peaking at # 106.
1.) What the World Needs Now Is Love (Burt Bacharach - Hal David) - 3:02
2.) Anyone Who Had a Heart (Burt Bacharach - Hal David) - 3:30
3.) Always Something There To Remind Me (Burt Bacharach - Hal David) -
4.) Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (Burt Bacharach - Hal David) - 3:07
5.) Walk On By (Burt Bacharach - Hal David) - 3:05
6.) What's New
Pussycat? (Burt Bacharach - Hal David) - 2:21
1.) Queen Jane Approximately (Bob Dylan) - 3:40
2.) Mr. Tambourine Man (Bob Dylan) - 3:09
3.) Like a Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan) - 4:27
4.) Don't Think Twice (Bob Dylan) - 2:59
5.) All I Really Want To Do (Bob Dylan) - 204
Blowin' In the
Wind (Bob Dylan) - 2:50
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Title: The Genuine Imitation Life Gazette
Catalog: PHS 600-290
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: gatefold sleeve; includes newspaper insert
Catalog ID: 6079
The first time I heard 1969's "The Genuine Imitation Life Gazette" I just scratched my head in wonder ... Musically and thematically it reflected an obvious, if bizarre and belated "Sgt. Pepper" influence (the inner sleeve even include a Beatles cartoon image). As such the collection found The Four Seasons desperately trying to stake out an updated, hip and happenin' sound in an effort to hold on to a rapidly declining audience. Reportedly one of the year's most expensive production efforts, exemplified by material such as 'American Crucifixion Resurrection', 'Saturday's Father' and 'Soul of a Woman' the band's stab at conceptual pieces of social commentary were well meaning, if inept. The certainly didn't waste any time taking on the width and breadth of American society. Racism ('American Crucifixion Resurrection'), the evils of gossip ('Mrs. Stately's Garden'), broken families ('Saturday's Father') and insincerity ('Genuine Imitation Life') were all fair game for commentary. To be fair, Valli and company couldn't be criticized for their dedication to the project. Songs like 'Father's Day' (complete with sound effects), the droning title track, and the single 'Idaho' (sounding like The Beach Boys overdosed on laxatives), made it clear they'd spent a lot of time, effort and their label's money on the album. Unfortunately the results literally dripped with ill-directed sincerity and over-the-top excess. There was plenty of blame to go around, but I would start by pointing the finger at Jake Holmes and Bob Gaudio in their roles as principal songwriters. With the exception of the bouncy 'Mrs. Stately's Garden', Somebody's On Her Mind' and 'Wonder What You'll Be' these songs were so different from the patented Four Seasons sound you almost had to feel sorry for fans who stumbled into it. Add to that, few of these tunes had the patented Four Seasons commercial edge fans expected. All those critiques and cheap shots aside, with the benefit of hindsight the album was entertaining in a strange and demented fashion. There was just something fascinating in hearing Valli's falsetto trying to belt out deep and significant lyrics like 'American Crucifixion Resurrection' and the title track.
The elaborate gatefold packaging and multiple inserts were also interesting. Philips clearly put a lot of time and money into the set. I'm guessing they didn't get their money back.
So strange that it's worth checking out even if you never thought you'd be a Four Seasons fan and you can still find copies on the cheap. Too bad they didn't make it a double album set ...
Needless to say, the album proved a major commercial disappointment. Peaking at # 85 the band's collective disappointment led to a brief falling out between Valli and longtime producer/co-writer Bob Crewe.
1.) American Crucifixion Resurrection (Jake Holmes - Bob Gaudio) - 6:41 rating: *** stars
As you probably guessed from the title 'American Crucifixion Resurrection' found the band holding absolutely nothing back in their goal to make a big and important statement. Complete with elaborate arrangement, multi-segmented song structure (how many Four Seasons songs clock in at over six minutes ?), and 'serious' lyrics the result was a weird as hell mix that sounded like they'd been listening to way too much sandbox-era Brian Wilson. As for the theme, it seemed to be a blanket incitement of American racism. Kudos to a group of middle aged Italian guys for being willing to take on such a third rail topic.
2.) Mrs. Stately's Garden (Jake Holmes - Bob Gaudio) - 3:13
3.) Look Up Look Over (Jake Holmes - Bob Gaudio) - 4:42 rating: ** stars
Opening up with what sounded like a heartbeat and some discordant keyboards, 'Look Up Look Over' morphed into a strange, MOR-ish ballad that almost sounded like a piece of cabaret. Once again the backing harmonies were nice, but you could easily picture Jacque Bret singing this one. The unexpected treated vocal segment was simply bizarre.
4.) Somebody's On Her Mind (Jake Holmes - Bob Gaudio) - 2:44 rating: **** stars
In spite of the strange phased drums and barrelhouse piano, 'Somebody's On Her Mind' was one of the album's more mainstream numbers. Sans any heavy message, it was a commercial, mid-tempo song with Valli turning in one of his best performances. Always loved the loud and upfront bass line. It probably would have been a better choice for a single than the two tracks that Philips ultimately selected.
5.) Saturday's Father (Jake Holmes - Bob Gaudio) - 3:10 rating: ** stars
'Saturday's Father' was an odd track to include on the set. The song was originally recorded in 1968 and had previously been released as a single. To my ears the stark arrangement sounded like it had been inspired by 'Eleanor Rigby' (though it was nowhere near as good). Given the broken home commentary, I guess the powers that be decided why not include it on the album. YouTube has an interesting clip of the group lip-synching the song on some television show. The audience seems totally uninterested in the performance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5rb8X3XoIw
- 1968's 'Saturday's Father' b/w 'Goodbye Girl' (Philips catalog number 40452).
1.) Wall Street Village Day (Jake Holmes - Bob Gaudio) - 4:26 rating: **** stars
Starting out with an interesting keyboard figure and some tasty bass, the song blossoming into a catchy pop tune. To my ears it always sounded like 'Wall Street Village Day' had borrowed a page out of The Kinks "The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society" songwriting book. The song was also interesting given Joe Long shared lead vocals with Valli. Yeah, it wasn't particularly original, but this one was so good it didn't matter.
2.) Genuine Imitation Life (Jake Holmes - Bob Gaudio) - 6:15 rating: **** stars
Okay, the ending blatantly ripped off The Beatles 'Hey Jude', but hearing Valli and company slosh their way through this intriguing lysergic-tinged number made it easy to overlook the shortcoming. Beside, if you were going to borrow something, it might as well be a good tune. And why not take on insincerity? It's probably something they were all too familiar with in their dealings with the music business.
3.) Idaho (Jake Holmes - Bob Gaudio) - 3:03 rating: ** stars
To my ears 'Idaho' was a strange choice as a single. The song was commercial, but in a 1965 Beach Boys-meets-a-barbershop quartet fashion. The weird '20s styled horn solo didn't exactly underscore the track's rock credentials. I'll be darned if I know what the song was about.
1968's 'Idaho' b/w 'Something's On Her Mind' (Philips catalog number 40597).
4.) Wonder What You'll Be (Jake Holmes - Bob Gaudio) - 3:25 rating: ** stars
'Wonder What You'll Be' was another ballad with some pretty Beach Boys-styled harmony vocals, but the song simply never kicked into gear.
5.) Soul of a Woman (Jake Holmes - Bob Gaudio) - 7:05 rating: ** stars
A seven plus minute suite, 'Soul of a Woman' managed to provide some of the album's worst performances and some of the highlights. The song started out as an overblown, plodding ballad (with some truly embarrassing lyrics ... 'look at her she's groovy' was actually one of the better lines), but around the two minute mark the song switched gears into a nice blue-eyed soul number before unfortunately going back to blasť MOR-ballad.
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