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Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons: The Motown Years

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Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons: The Motown Years

Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons: The Motown Years

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The Bottom Line

These tracks, culled from two failed LP attempts -- one group, one solo -- and a handful of singles, all on a Motown subsidiary, fill the historical gap between the group's late-Sixties loss of identity and their late-Seventies comeback nicely. But they don't add much to the legacy of the group or its head, and aren't of interest to anyone but Seasons/Valli fiends who've heard everything else a million times.

Pros

  • For hardcore Seasons and Valli fans, these tracks may be pure lost gold.
  • The Four Seasons singles from this period are especially good at capturing their classic sound.

Cons

  • The overblown pop of the original two albums sometimes gets away from itself.
  • There's nothing truly revelatory here, making this unnecessary for casual fans.

Description

  • Release date: July 15, 2008
  • Hip-O Select
  • Studio (1972-1975)
  • Compilation
  • 2 discs
  • Limited edition

Guide Review - Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons: The Motown Years

It seemed like a dream matchup, at least on paper. Take the Four Seasons, who, along with the Beach Boys, were the lone American groups to make consistent, important music during the British Invasion; bring them to the label that had made soul safe for white audiences, and the rest will take care of itself. Right?

Not exactly. The summit meeting of Frankie Valli's Italian soul and Motown's marketing genius surprisingly resulted in two flop LPs (one by the Seasons, one solo) and a handful of equally ignored singles. But maybe it's not so surprising, at that: both the group and the label were going through serious identity crises, the Seasons having slightly embarrassed themselves with the "serious" LP The Genuine Imitation Life Gazette, while Motown had left its Motor City roots behind. The music on The Motown Years, therefore, is all over the map: the 1972 Four Seasons album Chameleon veers into overblown adult pop, the singles that followed it attempt to erase that memory by slightly updating the quartet's classic sound, and the 1975 Valli solo LP Inside You tries to have it both ways.

The results are often entertaining but rarely revelatory: the aforementioned singles work best ("Walk On Don't Look Back," "How Come?" and "Hickory"), covering as they do familiar territory, and Valli's always amazing voice can sell even the silliest of this material: one of the most emotionally moving songs here is unfortunately called "Touch The Rainchild," and the chorus of the otherwise excellent, Caribbean-flavored "Charisma" revolves around the repeated hook "we're working your karma out." Entertaining and sometimes moving, yes. Timeless? No. There was a happy ending, though: Valli bought the one song from these sessions he could afford -- "My Eyes Adored You," which isn't included -- and used it to jumpstart his and the boys' career.

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