Saturday, December 16, 2006

Number 690 - Four Seasons

Number 690

The Four Seasons

"December '63"

Although they were one of the very biggest rock & roll groups of the 1960s, the Four Seasons -- unlike, say, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, or the Byrds -- don't excite virtually automatic respect from listeners and critics. A big factor is their most distinguishing trademark, the shrill falsetto vocals of their lead singer, Frankie Valli. Many also find their material -- gently moralistic, romantic tunes with tightly arranged group harmonies that updated doo wop ethos into the 1960s -- too cornball and clean-cut. Whatever your feelings about the group, though, there's no denying their considerable importance. No other white American group of the time save the Beach Boys boasted such intricate harmonies, though the Four Seasons were much more firmly in the Italian-American doo wop tradition.

For Beatles See Number 947, Number 894, 587
For Rolling Stones See Number 767 & Number 689
For Beach Boys See Number 714, 641, 576 & 560

Their uptown production values were contemporary and, in certain respects, innovative. The R&B influence in their music was large, and some of their early singles enjoyed success with R+B audience; in fact, some listeners thought that the Four Seasons were black when the group landed their first hits. And they were immensely successful, making the Top Ten thirteen times between 1962 and 1967 with hits like "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Dawn," "Rag Doll," and "Let's Hang On."

The British Invasion did little to diminish the Seasons' fortunes, at least initially. In 1964, they moved from Vee-Jay (which also, for a brief time, had rights to the Beatles) to Philips. Their production became more sophisticated and dramatic while remaining unabashedly pop, and in 1964 they had several of their biggest hits: "Dawn," "Ronnie," "Rag Doll," "Save It for Me," and "Big Man in Town" (as well as a gem-like B-side, "Silence Is Golden," which would be a hit in 1967 for the Tremeloes). The Four Seasons' influence, oddly, was also felt on a couple of tracks by the biggest British Invasion bands: the Beatles "Tell Me Why" and the Rolling Stones' "The Singer Not the Song" both launched into ear-straining falsettos at points, whether as a satire, tribute, or both

The winning streak basically continued through 1967, although they would never again be as huge. "Let's Hang On," "Working My Way Back to You," "Opus 17," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "Beggin'," and "Marianne" were all big hits from the time, though, working in some mild soul influences. They also, just for kicks, released a couple of silly singles under a pseudonym, the Wonder Who?, that even pre-teens quickly identified as the Seasons under disguise. The Wonder Who?'s 1965 Top 20 hit, "Don't Think Twice," easily qualifies as the most unseemly Dylan cover ever to hit the Top 40. Guitar-oriented, more socially conscious rock and soul had been making inroads into the Four Seasons' audience for a while, but the times really caught up with them by the end of 1967. The group would only make the Top 40 one more time before their mid-'70s comeback. In the late '60s, Valli, while maintaining his position in the Seasons, had kicked off a solo career that went straight for the heart of showbizzy pop on his biggest single, the number two hit "Can't Take My Eyes Off You." The Four Seasons did attempt to address social concerns of the day on the late-'60s album Genuine Imitation Life Gazette, but it was not generally well received

For Bob Dylan See Number 929 and Number 841

The Four Seasons struggled on into the 1970s; by the time they signed with a Motown subsidiary in 1971, Valli and Gaudio were the only original members left. They briefly returned to the top of the charts in the mid-'70s with "Who Loves You" and the nostalgic "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)"; at the same time, Valli had a resurgence as a soloist, reaching number one with "My Eyes Adored You" and making the Top Ten with "Swearin' to God." It couldn't last, any more than the group could turn back the clock to December 1963, that last moment when they reigned as the most successful white rock group in the world, unaware of the oncoming invasion by the Beatles. They've remained active off and on during the last two decades on the nostalgia circuit, without gaining any notable successes on record. ~ Richie Unterberger

Rolling Stone Magazine couldn't remember who The Four Seasons were.

Crowbarreds choice for Website to find more on Four Seasons... Click on the address

Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number (Wasnt Four Seasons from Motown?) and the Album ranked at Number (And Lionel Richie the lead singer?)
This song has a crowbarred rating of 68.8 out of 108 pts
Search Artist here:1-2-3-A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O-P-Q-R-S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z

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