Rag Doll By The Four Seasons

January 26, 2015


It may have been the Beatles era but on July 18, 1964, The Four Seasons reached the top of the charts for the fourth time.

“Rag Doll” is the eternal story of the poor girl. The song originated in the mind of Bob Gaudio when he stopped at a traffic light and a little girl ran out and cleaned his window hoping for a tip. Gaudio later said she looked like a rag doll.

The song entered the BILLBOARD Pop Chart June 20, 1964, and a month later it was number one, where it remained for two weeks. It remains of the classic pop songs of the 1960’s.

Walk Like A Man By The Four Seasons

August 29, 2014


When “Walk like a Man” began its three-week run at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart, March 2, 1963, it was their third number one song within a six month period. “Sherry” (5 weeks), “Big Girls Don’t Cry” (5 weeks), and “Walk like a Man” (3 weeks) topped the charts for a total of 13 weeks, making the Four Seasons the most successful American group of 1962-1963.During the first half of the Beatles era, they were one of very few American artists to consistently enjoy commercial success.

All three of their number one hits were similar in style and sound. Nick Massi’s bass vocal provided the foundation for the harmonies and Frankie Valli’s falsetto sang the lead. It was early 1960s slick uptempo pop at its best. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honored it as one of The 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.

It was quite a recording session that yielded the hit. The building caught fire while the group was recording. Producer Bob Crewe heard the fire alarms and ultimately the fire trucks, but kept the machines rolling until they were forced to evacuate. Crewe kept the tape safe.

All was not well between the Four Seasons and their label. Vee Jay had been founded in 1953 and was primarily known as the home for such rhythm & blues artists as Jerry Butler, Gene Chandler, The Dells, Gladys Knight and The Pips, Dee Clark, and the Staple Singers. They began litigation to break their contract over royalty issues. They held back future hits “Dawn (Go Away)” and “Rag Doll” until they signed with Philips. It was not a good couple of years for Vee Jay as The Beatles also opted out of their contact with the label.

The Four Seasons would continue to be a hit-making machine for Phillips during the rest of the decade and then resurrect themselves during the 1970s disco era. Frankie Valli continues to tour with a version of the Four Seasons.

The group was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and remains one of the most successful in American music history. Fifty one years ago they were sitting on top of the music world.

Jersey Boys Soundtrack With The Four Seasons

August 27, 2014


Who could have guessed that the story and music of the Four Seasons would become the basis for one of the most popular and commercially successful Broadway Plays of the last quarter century. The play and lead actor John Lloyd Young both won 2006 Tony Awards. The original Broadway cast album won a Grammy Award in 2007.

Time has passed and Jersey Boys has been released as a major film. Many critics have not been kind to the movie and it has only been marginally successful.  The music from the film has not been released as a traditional soundtrack. While music from the film is present; there is also an abundance of tracks by The Four Seasons themselves and a few from the Broadway musical.

Sometimes you just have to leave well enough alone. They should have gone with a straight soundtrack of the film. The music of the Four Seasons is some of the best pop of its era but is readily available in any number of compilations. Here, it tends to detract from the overall flow of the music from the film.

The saving grace is the voice of John Lloyd Young and the music itself. Young played the role of Frankie Valli on stage and in the film and his voice is very close to a young Valli. While he able to present the essence of the songs; he does so in a very modern way, which gives them energy and snap. His performances on such Four Seasons classics as “Sherry,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “Working My Way Back To You,” “Big Man In Town,” and “Dawn (Go Away)” transport the listener back to a different era.

When you get to songs like “Beggin,’” “C’mon Marianne,” “A Sunday Kind Of Love,”  and “Who Loves You,” the voices of Young and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons have been spliced together. The music is fine but it is still an odd combination. This oddity is very apparent with the film ending “Sherry” and “December, 1963 (Oh What A Night),” which is sung by just the four actors playing the Seasons.

The album ends with three tracks by the Four Seasons. “Sherry,” “Dawn (Go Away),” and “Rag Doll” are always welcome but one can help to think they were included to fill out the album.

There is nothing inherently wrong with the music contained on Jersey Boys;  the problem is with the concept of the album. For a more cohesive approach to the music from the play and the band; there is the cast album and the numerous compilations.

Big Girls Don’t Cry By The Four Seasons

August 22, 2014


The Four Seasons had one of the most successful six-month periods in pop history as three of their singles topped the Billboard Magazine Pop Singles chart for a total of 13 weeks.

“Sherry” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry” were recorded at the same session, but “Sherry’s” five-week run as the number one song in America ended October 20, 1962. Four weeks later The Four Seasons were back on top.

Success did not come quickly for the group. They formed during 1955 and used such names as the Variatones, Frankie Valley and The Travelers, The Four Lovers, Frankie Tyler, and Frankie Valle and The Romans, but a name change to The Four Seasons was the charm. They would go on to sell over 175 million records and be inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

 In the pop world of the 1960s pre-Beatles era, if you succeeded, the rule was don’t change anything if you could help it. “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Sherry” were very similar. Both were catchy up-tempo tunes with tight harmonies backing Frankie Valli’s falsetto. “Big Girls Don’t Cry” had a bigger sound and the harmonies were fuller. All in all, it had a very smooth pop feel, which would be similar to their string of hits during the remainder of the decade.

Band member Bob Gaudio wrote or co-write most of the group’s hits. Here he shared the writing credit with producer Bob Crewe. He and Crewe both agreed that the title came from a line in a film but they disagreed on which film. Gaudio has always stated it came from the movie Tennessee Partner and Crewe from the film Slightly Scarlet. Both starred John Payne and Rhonda Fleming. Whatever the song’s origin, it was a perfect blend of East Coast doo-wop and
rhythm & blues.

The Four Seasons had 40 chart singles during the 1960s with four reaching number one. They were one of the few American groups to remain commercially successful during the British Invasion years. “Big Girls Don’t Cry” is considered their biggest chart hit and on November 17, 1962, it began its five weeks on top of the American music world.

Sherry By The Four Seasons

August 14, 2014


Life was good for The Four Lovers during 1956. They had changed their name from The Variatones and reached the Billboard Magazine Pop Singles chart with the song, “You’re the Apple of My Eye.” This led to an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Little did they realize that one more name change would be the start of their journey toward The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and recognition as one of the best vocal groups in American music history.

There were personnel changes but by 1961 Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Nick Massi, and Tommy DeVito had coalesced into The Four Seasons. A year later they signed with the Vee-Jay label and were poised to produce three number one singles within the next seven months, which would spend a combined 13 weeks on top of the singles charts.

Gaudio had spent some time in the group The Royal Teens for whom he co-wrote their hit, “Short Shorts.” While doodling at the piano one day he came up with a melody with simple lyrics, which he titled “Terri Baby.” Sherry Spector was the daughter of New York disc jockey Jack Spector, who was a close friend of his. He decided to name the song after her and so one of the big hits of the 1960s was ready to go.

 “Sherry” first entered the Billboard chart August 25, 1962, and three weeks later it was number one where it remained for the next five weeks.

The Four Seasons produced just about the perfect pop song. There was a short introduction and then Frankie Valli’s falsetto kicked in and was supported by the soaring harmonies of the other group members. It was 2:32 of up-tempo pop bliss. It may have been a simple song from the pre-Beatles era but it has held up well for half a century.

“Sherry” found The Four Seasons at the beginning of their commercial success. Four more number one hits and 47 chart singles would follow. Fifty-two years ago,  The Four Seasons ruled the American music world for the first time.

A Patch Of Blue 45 by The Four Seasons

November 21, 2012

The first phase of The Four Seasons career was coming to an end. They had produced dozens of hits for the Vee Jay and Philips Label’s. Their last gasp was “A Patch Of Blue,” which was issued in May of 1970. The music world was changing as the new decade dawned and it just made the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart at number 94.

They would not have another hit until the disco era of the mid 1970s when they would top the charts once again. “A Patch Of Blue” remains one of the bands more obscure singles.

I’ve Got You Under My Skin 45 by The Four Seasons

July 17, 2012

“I’ve Got You Under My Skin” was featured in the movie BORN TO DANCE starring James Stewart. It was a number three hit for Ray Noble in 1936. Since that time it has be covered by many vocalists.

The Four Seasons recorded the old war horse and released it as a single during the late summer of 1966. It was another hit for the group as it reached number nine on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.

Their version was unique from the majority of covers that have been issued down through the years. Franki Valli’s falsetto vocal floated above the harmonies.

While it is not a song that comes immediately to mind when thinking about The Four Seasons, it remains a good listen over 45 years later.

Walk Like A Man 45 by The Four Seasons

June 10, 2012

The Four Seasons had finished 1962 in style as “Sherry” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry” had topped the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.

1963 started the same way. “Walk Like A Man” was released at the beginning of the year and would go on to become their third number one single when it topped he charts for three weeks.

It had a more sophisticated structure than their first two hits. The beat was more pronounced and Nick Massi’s bass vocal ran counterpoint to Frankie Valli’s falsetto. An essential release for any fan of the Four Seasons.

Save It For Me 45 by The Four Seasons

April 17, 2012

The Four Seasons were a hit making machine during the 1960w placing 40 singles on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart, 1962-1969.

“Save It For Me” was the follow-up single to their number one “Rag Doll.” Released during the summer of 1964, it reached number ten on the National charts.

It was a good release but not one of their top echelon hits. The harmonies with Frankie Valli’s voice floating over the mix were fine but the actual melody was not one of their best. It remains one of their lesser known top ten hits.

And That Reminds Me 45 by The Four Seasons

March 4, 2012

It probably seemed like a good idea at the time. From 1964 to 1969, The Four Seasons were hit making machines, placing two dozen singles on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart, while signed to the Philips label.

During mid-1969 they switched to Bob Crewe’s label, aptly named Crewe. Hw was also the band producer. This move effectively brought the most productive era of their career to and end and it would be over five years before they had another significant hit, long after they left the Crewe label.

Their one chart single for Crewe was “And That Reminds Me,” which reached number 45 on the American Singles Chart during the fall of 1969. Ir was the instruental song, “Autumn Concerto,” with new lyrics added.

All in all, it probably seemed like a good idea at the time.