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Published:June 17th, 2014 11:57 EST
Rhino`s 'The Very Best of Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons' a Must Before Friday!

Rhino`s 'The Very Best of Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons' a Must Before Friday!

By John G. Kays

I dropped by a Barnes and Nobles on Father`s Day, looking around for some John Ford classic Westerns; well I found some nice TCM quadruple movie packs, then adding to that, I picked up a terrific CD on the Rhino label, The Very Best Of Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons (2002). 

This came about because the store had Dawn (Go Away) (January 1964) piped through the speakers; a light bulb came on, `cuz I had just seen the trailer for Jersey Boys (twice) and I realized the movie was going to hit the screens on Friday (June 20th). I`m a lifetime fan of The Four Seasons, but haven`t ever owned one of their records. Nonetheless, I`m surprised by how securely their songs are preserved in my feeble memory banks, via home and car AM radios (the ipods of the 1960s).

The Rhino package includes 20 tear-jerking, mesmerizing tunes! I suspect this Best Of will sell like hotcakes once the flick hits the screens, which in part, I believe, tells the Real Story of this band faring from New Jersey. I could kick myself (in the butt) for the fact that I haven`t seen the hit musical, which would come in handy, as one could then compare it to the movie. Nevertheless, I did manage to get a little research under my belt this morning (regarding the musical Jersey Boys), so I`m starting to Wise Up a tidbit. 

For example, It dawned on me, Joe Pesci uses the name of Tommy Devito in Goodfellas, after his good friend, who was a founding member of TFS. Funny, I just listened to their music; I never was curious enough to reach deeply down into their biographical grab bag, that is the Skeletons in Their Closet!

For the time being, I`m going to concentrate on their unique brand of music, since I lived through (and survived) those days when they were on top of their game. I will say, however, I grew up in Texas (the hinterlands) and was always mystified by the going(s) on in New Jersey. I`ve filled in the picture somewhat as the years swiftly pass by (hopefully, The Sopranos is not the only textbook utilized in my education)

There`ll be more spare time to study up on The Four Seasons` interesting history, once I`ve seen the movie. I will say, chills came over me, and a flood of wonderful memories (some uptightness too), as I popped the CD into my car stereo. My first impression was Doo-Wop sounds better piping through a cheap AM radio!

The liner notes, written by Pat Sierchio, are helpful, as you stroll through memory lane with this impressive string of hits, beginning with Sherry (7/`62) and ending with Grease (8/`78). While we do want and need to know as much as possible about Frankie Valli, my curiosity is even greater regarding the lives and careers of TFS`s principal songwriters, Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe, who was also their producer *(specifically, I`d like to know about the handclap technique utilized on many of these records). Well, I better not leave out Walk Like A Man Tommy DeVito; every detail is needed! Nick Massi is interesting also; was he Main Man behind their signature Doo-Wop sound?

In my own assessment of the times, and the way I reacted negatively to the band, starting around early 1964 when The British Invasion hit America with full hurricane force, I`m still searching for the reasons why so many of the American popular acts bit the dust (in the turbulent wake of British Rock N Roll). Pat Sierchio reminds me that TFS survived The British Invasion, with Big Hits still managing to top the charts. 

Rag Doll, perhaps their best song (perfect for the `60s), came out in June of 1964 and went to # ONE; my favorite song (I would sing it to the bathroom mirror) was/is: Let`s Hang On (To What We`ve Got) - with fuzz guitar, made it to #3 in September of 1965. Moreover, I should point out, Frankie`s transition to Disco was smooth as silk (check out December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night) for a perfect nostalgia trip, ala 1970s. Pick up this record quick and I`ll see you in the Galleria Cinemark lobby this Friday, first showing, naturally!