The Four Seasons Sound Archive started with us going back to 1961 and searching out their first 45 when as the then Four Lovers they got another chance to record with Crewe under yet another name. And once again they tried for a hit
As we reported in The Rise To Fame Of The Four Seasons……”Crewe leased one of their masters to George Goldner's Gone Records; by then, they were calling themselves The Four Seasons. Somehow with his music industry network of friends he was able to engineer a recording session in November 1961, for George Goldner's Gone label, and the 2 sides ‘Bermuda’ and ‘Spanish Lace’ were released on Gone #5122 by the end of the year. Our Billboard review picks these up in the 3rd February 1962 edition with an ad and a spotlight single review. The choice of material is a mystery as Linda Scott already had a pop version of ‘Bermuda’ ("The Bell Sisters" #7 pop hit in 1952) out and receiving heavy publicity in Billboard. The Seasons ‘doom laden’ performance gave no clue as to their potential whilst ‘Spanish Lace’(a song Bob Gaudio had already done in 1961 as an instrumental under the name Turner Di Sentri) was more of the material that they had served up in previous years…competent if uninspiring doo-wop.”
Rex Woodard says in Billboard in 1981…”Massi remembers how Crewe came to record the first Four Seasons record, ‘Bermuda’:” He did things right on the spot. One day we were fooling around in the studio and he hears us singing ‘Bermuda’. He comes in and say..” Let’s record it”..”Wow! I said. We’re not ready; we’re not even doing it right!.” He recorded it anyway and released it.”
"The first success I had with The Four Seasons . . . was a record called 'Bermuda',” Crewe recalled in later years. "It was a minor hit out of Philadelphia, but . . . nothing was really happening beyond Philly.” The single fails to chart and they begin playing at the Martell Sea Breeze Resort in Point Pleasant Beach in New Jersey as The Four Seasons or perhaps The Four Lovers.
Rex Woodard said…”Despite fascinating tales to the contrary, the “Four Seasons” identity came about pretty much at random for this particular record. When this flopped the name was indefinitely discarded.”
‘Bermuda’ proved to be a punchy ‘bass-laden’ stomp much different from the light and romantic version by Linda Scott which achieved more success in the charts at the time.
A version of the Seasons attempt at the song has turned up on CD in STEREO on Spotlight on Gone Records – Collectables’ but it lacks the bass and punch of the 45 which is our selection for the archive. At 7 seconds in on the MONO 45 version there is a Spanish Guitar over dub that does not appear on the STEREO version. About that place on the STEREO version is a slight echo of the guitar in the background like it was on a separate track of the tape but not used. The STEREO version somehow losses the impact of the 45 but does show the detail in the instrumentation. A definite collectable.
The flip-side ‘Spanish Lace’ a Crewe composition was typical of their Four Lovers sound at that time.
It’s MONO CD appearance on the ‘The Gone Story’ on UK Westside(a now defunct label) is in an alternative version(Take1) lacking the strong instrumental background of the 45 but the STEREO version on ‘Spotlight on Gone Records – Collectables’ is much better and an essential collectors item.
The 45 would be re-released in October 1962 after the success of ‘Sherry’ and ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’ but without chart success. Billboard of 20th October 1962 included this review….which seems to regard ‘Spanish Lace’ as the A-side.
The songs would also appear again on vinyl in 1963. Paul Urbahns tells us the story…”Guest Star 1481, contains many tracks by The Barons but ‘Spanish Lace’ is there along with ‘Bermuda’. The only two Four Seasons songs on this 4 Seasons album.
Guest Star was a promotionally priced label manufactured by Synthetic Plastics of Newark NJ. The category of promotionally priced albums means they generally sold for $1 (one dollar) or less. The purpose was department, food and discount stores could advertise these albums....with well know stars names... so folks would come to the stores to look at the albums, and while there they would purchase something else, perhaps pillows, sheets or something.
Guest Star really used a bait and switch attitude when it came to
these albums, but based on their price (a dollar or less) they were actually good value. I say bait and switch because the cover would show a well known and popular artist, like Louis Armstrong or Al Hirt and only have two or three songs by that artist. The rest would be filler by some other artist or custom recordings by some unknown session singers. The Louis Armstrong album, had two songs by Louis Armstrong accompanied by Duke Ellington..the rest of the album was a studio singer credited as Jimmy Shore doing a bad Louis Armstrong impersonation. If you look at it as a two song album for $1 it’s pretty good value as single as that time cost about the same they had two songs and were mono.
Guest Star had issued an album called "Oh Julie" by the Crescendos in 1962 with 8 songs (Guest Star GS- 1453) Normally these promotionally priced albums had 10 songs. But apparently that was all they could find.
Info on this group is here with cover and label shots of the GS album.
A year later when the 4 Seasons were popular Guest wanted to put out an album. A fairly nice drawing of the group was prepared and they licensed the two Gone songs from Roulette (who owned the Gone catalog),
Two songs don't make an album so they took the 8 song Crescendos album and added the two Four Seasons and they had a new 4 Seasons album. Since the other 8 songs had been issued on another album, still being sold in the same bins as the Four Seasons album, they renamed the Crescendos "The Barons" but they are the same recordings.
Now in addition to the two 4 Seasons Gone songs in excellent quality, you also get the Crescendos hit "Oh Julie" all on one album for a dollar or less. Not very honest..but good value. This album sold recently on ebay for over $10
The MONO and STEREO versions are stored in separate archives but whilst we are building a MONO Archive from vinyl we will feature details of different versions including MONO and STEREO as we have above.
Next Time…The early Vee-Jay hits, A’s and B’s and different versions