Bob Crewe, 1930-2014, is best remembered as a songwriter and producer for the Four Seasons. He had 37 of his compositions reach the American Top 30 including “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like A Man,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “Let’s Hang On,” and “Rag Doll.” In 1965, he established his own label, Dynovoice Records, and produced a number of hits for Mitch Ryder including “Devil With The Blue Dress,” “Sock It To Me Baby,” and “Jenny Take A Ride.” His own Bob Crewe Generation hit the Top 20 with “Music To Watch Girls By.”
He recorded nine full-length albums during his career. The last two were for the Electra label. Street Talk (1976) and Motivation (1977) were his last attempts at solo commercial viability. Out of print for decades, they have now been reissued by Real Gone Music, complete with an array of bonus tracks and a booklet that gives an excellent biography of Crewe and the music.
The music is a product of the 1970’s and does not translate well to the new millennium. It was the disco era and Crewe created two very creative failures.
Street Talk was designed to be his grand opus. He used a 40 piece orchestra and 19 vocalists including Patti Austin and Gwen Guthrie to create his disco meets pop meets rock meets ballet meets bawdy lyrics creation in two acts.
There is a story with a protagonist named Cheery Boy who travels from the mid-west to Hollywood in search of fame and fortune. While the music is light weight and disco oriented; the lyrics are very much R rated. It really is not as good as it sounds.
1977’s Motivation travels in a very different direction. He left the producing chores to the legendary Jerry Wexler and traveled to Muscle Shoals to record the album. While such songs as “Lady Love Song,” “Marriage Made In Heaven,” “In Another Life,” and “Merci Beaucoup” may not have affected the course of American music, they are funky and catchy pieces of fluff.
The Complete Electra Recordings fills a whole in Bob Crewe’s and the Four Seasons related catalogue. Today, the music is primarily of historical interest and will appeal to only a hardcore fan.