Aka ‘How Bob Crewe Saved Frankie Valli’s 'Solo' Career”
The Four Seasons period at Motown represents for many long-standing fans a ‘lost opportunity’. It was then, (with few releases and little promotion) and remains so today with a sparse and unrepresentative Anthology CD set from Hip-O-Select.
Perhaps some younger fans wonder why this should be important as they happily celebrate the original group’s music in the fictitious stage play ‘Jersey Boys’. Why is a period that produced NO hits at a fading label so important.?(it would subsequently lead to a UK Top Ten hit with ‘The Night’ – now being performed in concert by Frankie Valli for the first time for nearly 40 years).
Well simply put, it is important because the released music does NOT properly represent the work of the group and its producers over the period of their contract. Another distortion on the reality of their history: just like Jersey Boys. 40+ tracks remain on tape…many unheard and some on 16 track tape that remain un-mixed. This is more than their released catalogue of work at the label.
Only recently has information surfaced to indicate the extent of the work they did at the famous label and the remaining lack of interest of both Universal Motown who own the masters….and Valli and Gaudio who appear uninterested in its existence.
In our first blog note on this period ‘The Mowest Story’ (now available as a pdf file here) we described the optimism of their early activity on the Mowest label and now we extend that story to 1974 and their departure from the label. Based on recently acquired Tape Index information regarding 16 and 24 track tapes, we can see what was (and if adequately stored should still be) in the Universal Motown vaults.
This second period is important because the group did actually fall apart, and Frankie Valli was left ill and alone at what was arguably the lowest point of his career. But the Tape Index information reveals just how hard Valli, the surviving group members and various producers, in particular, Bob Crewe worked to recover the 40 year old Valli’s career - and how the eventually succeeded.
Whilst we are still unable to hear much of this work (with so many tracks worked on remaining unreleased) it paints a fascinating prelude to the return to fame of the hugely talented vocalist and his NEW band of Four Seasons who would take the charts by storm during the mid 1970s.
At present the current story of their history, ‘Jersey Boys’, continues to be promoted as the definitive bio. But evidence and events this year will, we believe, lead to a more accurate perspective on both the shows sources and the group’s musical history. We have always argued that another storyline exists and should be told. But with a film script pending and so much hype tied into the ‘Jersey Boys’ image it is unclear how long that focus will persist.
It, unfortunately, remains doubtful that anyone can persuade Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio to support a CD project to research this lost period in the group’s history…and a bit of accuracy as to their music making efforts. It is more likely such a thing would eventually be a tribute to the ‘late’ Frankie Valli CD. But as we owe Bob Crewe so much for the success of the group and Valli…….we have to pose the question. Can miracles happen?!!