'Groups' don't last but a 'Group's Sound' does

Remembering the 60s, as I and older fans do, we saw groups come and go every month. One hit wonders in many cases......or songs that just didn't get the airplay and disappeared without trace. But distinctive group sounds did succeed and survive.......and much of it in the UK grew out of the Merseybeat era that gave us the Beatles.

Doo-Wop and Rock'n'Roll performed live in basement clubs in the UK in the early 60s eventually reached the studio and into hits along with West Coast Surf groups in the charts in the US and UK.......whilst at the same time soul, folk and a new sound from Detroit......meant that a melting pot of music emerged and eventually by 1966, group or act sounds became dominant amongst record buyers.

It was at the start of this period that The Four Seasons emerged and got a foothold with listeners, with their distinctive harmonies and a lead singer with an amazing range and falsetto, which producer Bob Crewe could focus on and songwriter Bob Gaudio could write for. But everyone [including writers, artists, arrangers and producers] knew that 2/3 years of hits was the best you could achieve. Longevity [or the coming importance of album sales] was not the thought of any of these artists and those that have survived often say that. The 7” vinyl 45 rpm 'Hits' came and went very quickly and royalties often didn't and management disputes and competition buried some groups.

But once a sound became established and adopted by fans, they stayed faithful and believed in the 'group' sound. But how long would it last and would the artists/groups stay faithful to their fans needs and wants ? Well history says MAYBE........ The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Four Tops, The Temptations are just examples of a groups sound that had a clear and distinctive element that has stood the test of time. The Four Seasons you may think had a group sound that has survived.....but if you are a longstanding fan of 'the sound' and it's development you will probably say NO. And looking at the decades of music group sounds.........only one group can claim to remain through the decades faithful to the essence of 'their sound' and that is THE TEMPTATIONS.

Spending many years collecting the recordings attributed to The Four Seasons [and the last 4 years reviewing the surviving master tapes with the late great Bob Fisher] it is clear we lost in many ways 'That 'FOUR SEASONS' Sound' many decades ago. In the forthcoming 'Seasons On Saturday' videocasts with our team I will be exploring this subject discussing the catalogue from 1965 onwards when their 'sound' was probably at it's peak.

'Who Killed The Four Seasons Sound?'.......will run through the background of these timeline related catalogue discussions as like every other successful 60s group they sought further 'fame and fortune'.[and to pay the debts Tommy left them with!!] And who are the contenders for losing the 'sound' ? Frankie Valli/Bob Gaudio/Bob Crewe/Nick Massi....or maybe Philips/Motown or Warner Curb..??.....we and this Box Set will force a re-appraisal of the group and Frankie's legacy.

For comparison and reference I look at THE TEMPTATIONS as they celebrate their 60th Anniversary with one surviving member in Otis Williams.


The early group had an amazing and distinctive sound that grew out of doo-wop soul with multiple lead vocalists[a notable element of group success that would revive The NEW Four Seasons of the 1970s pictured above] When David Ruffin wanted the group to be renamed 'David Ruffin and the Temptations'......he was to be summarily dumped and replaced so that the sound continued and developed with highly talented replacements. In 1999 their recruited line-up went 'Platinum' with their updated but related group sound on 'Phoenix Rising'. Proof [if it was needed] that preserving and developing the group sound was something worth investing in and developing through collaboration and teamwork. They also had 'family' in the way Motown worked in the early days and the longest standing artist/manager relationship in Otis Williams and Shelly Bergen......a true and trusted hand-shake arrangement also connected with the 'brand' and with the fan base........but it would seem with much greater success than that of Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio in The Four Seasons Partnership. There are reasons why the sound based around Frankie Valli's unique vocal was not developed as it could and this catalogue release by Snapper shows that, but also the great solo career he was able to develop.

So we have to look at the catalogue of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons with the context of the people and the investors and record companies as making music was and remains about making money....whilst making music. Whichever is dominant we will explore as fans in a critical career appraisal through our experience as fans with a creative and former musical director and member of the group, Lee Shapiro.

The Four Seasons at Motown should have been a new 'dawn' of developing sounds and hits. That is where the 60s took them by 1971.....to join groups like The Temptations and The Commodores at a classic label, but one by then flawed with distractions and mismanagement. We still seek to fully know what happened there to Frankie and the Band. That 'campaign' goes on.

We will in our next 'Seasons On Saturday' sessions pick up the history of the group and talk about 1965 and the place the Four Seasons had in pop music and how group sounds were changing and what was done …...or not done to preserve that 'longevity'. 'That 'Four Seasons' Sound' should have been 'legendary', but will this 44 CD Box Set demonstrate that or will it be a testimony to good and bad decisions and luck.? And given our experience as a 'fan group' since the 1970s it will sadly show a lack of 'connection' with the fans for decades.....only partly overcome in the last few years. The on-going popularity of Frankie Valli tour dates by this revered 88 year old lead singer this summer [and the hoped for success of the Snapper Music Box Set] would tend to prove the 'legendary' status is intact....much is owed to the team led by long-time musical director Robbie Robinson...since 1978 for the touring band....and all of the 'Four Seasons' band members through the decades.....So what of the journey from 1962 to today ? The next 'Seasons On Saturday' videocast will be coming in May. Next time 1965 to 1967......Frankie Valli's second solo career.....catch the previous episodes here.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Happy Easter everyone.

Ken Charmer – Music Historian – The Four Seasons UK Appreciation Society

Lynn Boleyn MBE– Secretary and PR





Four Seasons UK Appreciation Society

Dr. George Ingram...Newsletter Editor: Ray Nichol—Record Researcher: Lynn Boleyn—Secretary; Ken Charmer—Webmaster/Researcher

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