The Facebook group established in February 2016 is going strong and as the year ends we have sent Motown CEO Harry Weinger, [the executive responsible for the Motown Anthology 2008] our End Of Year : Status Report.
In it we outlined our aim which remains to research and recover all aspects of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons recording career and share this with fans. Whilst our focus is primarily on the Motown tracks still in the vaults, we are now focused on ALL 'un-released' tracks. So this report tells fans what we have told the CEO of Motown responsible for the only 'Official' Motown CD release by Frankie and the group this century. The first 'official' release of their time at Motown.
The facebook group contains the data we have re the Motown vault but in addition we have made some astonishing finds on acetates dating back to the early 60s on Frankie and the group. Acetate recordings of early pre-Four Seasons have recently surfaced and will be 'released' [shared] next year with the facebook group and we now know of and have re-mastered the Motown acetates made by Bob Crewe and made Frankie fully aware we have these and we have informed him what Motown have in the vault.
We corresponded with Harry Weinger the UMe CEO before the 2008 Anthology [he asked for our help] as he did the tape research re the 'Released' tracks and we were able to confirm the tracks released in the US and UK on that collection. My intention in writing this time has been to update him on our research status at the end of 2017 and to ask him to ensure that our information is available to his archivists/researchers and of use, as and when he has the resources, approvals and support for a release of the many 'completed' but unreleased tracks we now know are on 16 track master tape or already digitally recovered. We know of several 'digitization' programmes this century but only know of one main researcher who currently does in depth work on the tapes and that is Keith Hughes. His work and reputation as a detailed Motown researcher is second to none. DFTMC web site is a 'work of art' documenting Motown releases. But he is, as far as we know, not an employee of UMe[on a permanent basis], and we are unaware of any current digitization or specific research programmes he is involved with for Motown [apart from the forthcoming Motown Unreleased 1967 download/CD set].The DFTMC database only extends to 1972 and includes limited Four Seasons releases and none of the 'un-released'
There is only one Motown researcher we trust implicitly and that is Paul Nixon and he is interested in our project aims. For that reason we've copied him with the latest version [July 2016 revision] of the key file on which we have collated information re Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons material recorded at Motown In our Excel spreadsheet we identify the P Tapes [and some T Tapes] and Motown Master Nrs[where known] with titles, songwriters, producers etc. This is, we believe, the most comprehensive record of the material by them at Motown to date and the essential reference point for any research into this period of recording by them. It is also almost certainly the biggest gap in their recording history and the [probably]biggest cache of 'unreleased' music by Frankie[solo or with the group] in existence. But if there are other paper records and information available we have offered to help and make this record of data as comprehensive as possible. It will need to be for the legal 'approvals' process. We are grateful for the anonymous donation of data sources that has enabled this data record to be compiled over several years but it is only a starting point. We also have full lists of the Motown Masters and Artists Cards for the period. These also detail the Stereo Masters [when mixed for potential release] and their location.
We will in our blogs next year be outlining how any future research projects should take place ….....and we know that will happen[Frankie Valli is just TOO IMPORTANT an artist] …...we are trying to ensure that team has the most comprehensive info available and a proper plan of research.
We will extend our research and explain how WHENEVER anyone researches these tapes they will be able to focus on the 6 specific phases of Frankie and the groups recording sessions from 1971 to 1973. For our next years blogs and research we are enlisting the help of an MBA in Project Management to design a strategy for research that is comprehensive but cost effective with sound engineering resources. We'll highlight the tapes relating to each phase and the producers involved and what they, Frankie and the group aimed to achieve. All this should direct research of the analogue tapes specifically rather than the more random research from general digitization programmes which we know have gone on in the past. We only know so much but we believe the internal research is incomplete. A specific artist project can be initiated by Universal Motown to extract known digital tracks and to research the analogue tapes for finished and unfinished[un-mixed] 'multi-tracks'. We have evidence of Digitally Mastered 'completed' tracks found to date but we can see not all the tapes have been 'found' or researched despite the work that uncovered un-released tracks for the Motown Anthology in 2008.....nearly 10 years ago. We'll say more re this in our publications during 2018.
But finding all the P and T tapes we list, we realise, may not be the easiest of tasks given what we have heard [even from Harry himself in interview] about the state of the tape vaults. Whilst the Detroit tapes have some order we believe the LA tapes are somewhat 'disorganised'. Obviously the source tapes are the final key research point but may well contain 16 track recordings not 'mixed down' but equally so these tapes may contain unknown songs NOT listed by the 'Motown interns' at the time. We have been told that many of these tapes have probably not been listened to since the sessions. The priority is to ID, find and gather ALL the relevant tapes from the vaults and verify and complete digitization for research. Informing this is our 2018 programme of research.
We do know that tape research was done for the Anthology set and that 2 previously unreleased versions of songs appeared on that compilation......which shows that not only the STEREO MASTER tapes of the original albums were the source tapes for that project and proves that what remains is not simply demos and incomplete rehearsals as has been maintained up to 2008 by Bob Gaudio. But we are now into the post Jersey Boys period and with the sad loss recently of Bob's wife Judy Parker it is impossible to judge how Bob will react or approach the group's history.
But moving past that followers of this blog will know we have approached both Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio to try to assess if they[and their heirs] have ANY INTEREST in this music, and THE JURY.....remains out on that at present.....but we may get an answer as we keep them informed of our research.......ever the optimist.........'with Motown...you never know'!!!!
So as we approach the year end our next compilation of 'Best' sound quality 'Un-released' is 'in the studio' and more historic and rare 'live' material is 'in the works' for 2018. A Happy Christmas and Happy New Year to all our followers. Casey Chameleon