It seems that there is no-one listening to fans of the Four Seasons asking for unreleased tracks from the past to be issued. But that is nothing unfamiliar to long-standing fans of the group. Many would claim the Four Seasons Partnership have never been tuned into what fans want nor have they or their record companies listened to them. But should that position be accepted today? Can fan influence bring change?
A recent music industry blog said.....”There is no doubt that the music industries are a complex web of inefficiencies and that if they were being redesigned tomorrow that they would be a far more streamlined, effective and transparent proposition. This on the surface makes the music business ripe for disruption. But unlike fully open markets like the smartphone business, the music industries are interwoven with complications such as de facto monopolies, statutory licensing frameworks and global networks of reciprocal agreements. All of which shelter the business from the full impact of disruption. Change happens slowly in the music business.......None of this means that change is not happening and that the rate of change will not continue to happen. But the odds are heavily stacked against a single entity aiming to unseat the marketplace”
The Four Seasons UK Appreciation still exists through the efforts of a few and the dedicated following of a few hundred fans. Whilst we have always 'championed' 'THE FOUR SEASONS' as opposed to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons this is because we see the contribution of all members of the group and the team that gave us so much good music. The problem has always been we think that way. 'Collaboration' versus 'Ego' some would say.
So with the end of the Jersey Boys 'era' how will fans be served/kept and created.?
It is becoming more and more apparent that The Four Seasons Partnership need to invest in 'curators' if they are to maintain and develop the marketing of their 'brand' through the internet world of today. A recent blog re the music industry compared the playlisting of streaming services with themed and researched CD 'playlists'........”The fact that 25% of music subscribers still buy compilation albums show that however a good job streaming playlists might be doing, there remains a big demand for compilations, even within the core of streaming music aficionados. Curated playlists will continue to gain importance but compilations are going to live alongside them for a good long time to come. And all the while the distinction between what constitutes a playlist and a compilation will continue to blur.”
With Facebook groups devoted to Four Seasons 'memoribilia', Motown's unreleased music and Charlie Calello's vast catalogue of arrangements and productions we have a place to be, to belong, to share and to collaborate all fuelled by our curation. This keeps the ID of the group, their music and their image firmly in the hands of us all. In 'From Bitcoin To Burning Man' there is a forecast that in the emerging social structures.....”The crux ….. is the insight by David Reed, formerly of the M.I.T. Media Lab, that on open networks such as the Internet, greater value is generated through groups that are progressively more coherent and collaborative – or what Reed calls “Group Forming Networks,” or GFNs.....the most valuable networks, says Reed, are those that facilitate group affiliations. “
Looking at the content of our web site and blog and the membership of our Facebook groups I realised we have have become a GFN......we have been 'curators' for The Four Seasons Partnership since the 1970s and on the internet since the 1990s and now the facebook group members have made us a GFN. Whether it be our group members, blog writers, newsprint and 'memoribilia' collectors or amateur sound engineers, 'curators' is what we have become. Wikipedia tells us that ….“Content curation is the process of gathering information relevant to a particular topic or area of interest. Services or people that implement content curation are called curators.” This 'collective' basically provides that service.
But it is alright talking about the back stories....what about the music?
The Four Seasons Partnership and their Partner Rhino no longer invest in compilations like they did. Future compilations must provide playlists akin to the Rhino Rarities CD's (Vols 1 and 2 September 1990). Curated collections with high quality digital masters.
But if not them WHO?
Well in the Facebook 'Four Seasons Motown Unreleased Campaign' we've documented 80% of the paper records af the sessions at Motown and revealed the background to at least 30 and upto 50 unreleased tracks still lying in the vaults. A massive curation job that even UME could not have achieved with their compilers. We are just awaiting the re-mastering and release.
Back in 2012 Ray Ricci and I exchanged notes on the non-existence of a good Four Seasons Archive as a set of full STEREO mixes don't exist. Some were never mixed and some lost(thrown out by Philips) but the problem of the final 'Bob Crewe' mixes surfaced....”Four Seasons aside - there's very few Crewe productions that exist anywhere in a multi-track format as we think of it. It's not really a case of studio capabilities or number of multi-tracks available: it's how a producer worked through the bouncing and mixing and overdubbing to get an orchestra mix that works in MONO. Stereo was secondary, and could only be loosely constructed with what remained after essential mixdowns with overdubs were already in place.
What's of concern is that MONO masters are lost!”
Well with the help of German Sound Engineer Stefan Wreidt a project to preserve the MONO masters as mixed to vinyl began in 2012 with the help of several UK and US collectors with access to original vinyl. Cleaned and re-mastered to give good quality MONO masters these digital masters contain all of Bob Crewe's great final productions.
Of course I can't share these as I don't hold the copyright, but the archive is available to any national preservation body. The copyright remains with the Four Seasons Partnership but we completed the 'salvage' operation in 2015. Some may appear on You Tube for purely educational purposes!!!
Of course The Four Seasons Partnership could have done this(and could still do so) , making it commercially available but they would need to get access to good vinyl copies and spend 3 man years, collecting, sifting, dubbing and re-mastering. No? They will continue to use the mis-match of masters they have served up before. Not faithful to the original in every case...but who will know the difference.? The fact Nick Massi's bass vocal is missing on 'Ain't That A Shame' or that there is no faithful MONO master of the 'B' side of 'Sherry' ….'I've Cried Before' ….are blatantly ignored.
Unfortunately Stefan passed away from cancer before I was able to complete the archive but it is now complete and testimony to his work and those of us who have become.....'The Curators'.
Onto the compilations we need next.