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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Box Set Reviews > Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons

Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons

... Jersey Beat ... The Music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (Rhino 74852) 2007

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Copyright 2007 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: June 14, 2007.

Copyright 2007 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: June 14, 2007.

Description:
Jersey Boys - a Broadway musical featuring the Four Seasons' music - is the toast of the Great White Way.  Lead singer Frankie Valli - looking much less than his 73 years - has been seen on The Sopranos playing a rival mobster.  Grease, the musical for which Valli sang the theme song (okay, it was written for the movie version - but they have used it in every stage revival since 1978), is also returning to Broadway.  The time is ripe for an evaluation of the music of this long-lived and influential vocal group.  Plus Valli has one of the most spine-tingling sotto voices in pop music history.
What's Good About It?
The Four Seasons were one of the few old-school doo wop groups which was able to hold on to its audience and even prosper after the Beatles and the British Invasion changed all the rules of rock and roll.  The reason is simple, the group (and Valli as a solo act) were singles machines, releasing no less than twelve near-perfect pop songs as good as anything released during the 1960s.  For example, Valli's 1967 solo single "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" so beautifully encapsulates the best of late sixties adult pop that it has been covered in recent years by the likes of Lauryn Hill and the Pet Shop Boys.  "Let's Hang On!" is another stone-cold classic, a pleading and beautiful and blissfully tuneful reconciliation song, as is "Opus 17 (Don't Worry About Me)" which takes the opposite tact of assuring the singer will be alright without his love.  The jangly-Byrds pop of "C'mon Marianne" and the mid-70s comeback singles the disco-vibed "Who Loves You" and the wonderfully nostalgic "December 1963 (Oh What A Night) send the set out on a good foot though the few post "Grease" songs are pretty unexceptional.
What's Bad About It?
While the earliest pre-rock singles do include some true stunners, like "Sherry," "Rag Doll" and "Walk Like a Man," some of the songs ... for example, "Candy Girl" and "Bye Bye Baby (Baby Goodbye)" and even (I hate to say it) "Sherry" ... sound kind of dated.  Also, there are a few weird little novelties, like the mid 60s jingle "Cousin Brucie Go Go" and "East Meets West" a 1984 match-up of past-their-prime legends which the Four Seasons recorded with the Beach Boys.
What's Missing?
Not too much, this is as complete an overview as you're likely to get from this Hall of Fame group.
PopEntertainment.com final grade: B+
This long-overdue compilation includes 76 superlative teen symphonies as well as a wonderfully entertaining DVD of twelve TV and live performances covering most of their 15 year stay at the top of the charts.  (I do find it hard to believe there was no TV performance of "Grease," but otherwise it's perfect.)  This is all the Four Seasons that you will ever need and it is prime.

Jay S. Jacobs

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