Archive for the ‘Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons’ Category
Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye): Final “The Complete Motown Singles” Volume Bows
Nearly nine years after the first volume in Hip-O Select’s The Complete Motown Singles box set series was released, the 14th and final entry in the series, Volume 12B: 1972, will be released on December 10, just in time for the holidays.
The year 1972 marks, for many, the end of the “classic Motown” period. Label founder Berry Gordy moved label operations from Detroit to Los Angeles, and many of his most treasured acts were in periods of transition. Diana Ross was long a solo artist away from The Supremes, while Smokey Robinson would part ways with The Miracles in 1972 – the same year both The Four Tops and Gladys Knight & The Pips would break off from the label. At the same time, though, several of the label’s acts were coming in to their own, from The Temptations’ psychedelic soul styles, the increasing independence and experimentation of Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye and even the shine of the spotlight on solo members of The Jackson 5, namely frontmen Michael and Jermaine.
Included in the 100 tracks across five discs are some choice rarities, including Marvin Gaye’s beautiful (but long-lost) holiday single, “I Want to Come Home for Christmas” b/w “Christmas in the City,” an unissued solo single from longtime label songwriter Valerie Simpson, a duet by G.C. Cameron and Willie Hutch that never made it to an album with Hutch’s vocal, and even rare sides by several pop acts who made their name away from the Motown roster, including Lesley Gore, Bobby Darin and Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons.
Packed, as always, with a bonus replica 7″ single (The Temptations’ classic “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone”), The Complete Motown Singles Vol. 12B is loaded with notes and essays from Abdul “Duke” Fakir of The Four Tops, Susan Whitall of The Detroit News, journalist Bill Dahl and compilation producers Keith Hughes and Harry Weinger, who “contribute series postscripts that offer back stories of the Motown tape vault, session logs and tape cards.”
The Second Disc has, of course, spent most of its existence lightly prodding Harry, UMe’s vice-president of A&R, for information on the TCMS series; when we set up shop in 2010, the series had seemingly stalled at Vol. 11 the year before. Vols. 12A and 12B would not materialize until this year, though I certainly speak for both Joe and myself (not to mention countless readers and fans around the world) that the work has been well worth the wait.
On December 10, that wait is finally over. After the jump, you can pre-order your own copy of the set.
In his 85th year, Burt Bacharach has kept a pace that would wear out many a younger man. In addition to performing a number of concert engagements, the Oscar, Grammy and Gershwin Prize-winning composer has released a memoir, continued work on three musical theatre projects, co-written songs with Bernie Taupin and J.D. Souther, and even penned a melody for Japanese singer Ringo Sheena. Though Bacharach keeps moving forward, numerous releases this year have looked back on his illustrious catalogue. Universal issued The Art of the Songwriter in 6-CD and 2-CD iterations to coincide with the publication of his memoir, Real Gone Music rescued his three sublime “lost” 1974 productions for Dionne Warwick from obscurity, and Warner Music Japan reissued the near-entirety of Warwick’s Scepter and Warner Bros. tenures under the umbrella of Burt Bacharach 85th Birth Anniversary/Dionne Warwick Debut 50th Anniversary. Two more titles have recently been added to that Japanese reissue series: The Atlantic Sound of Burt Bacharach and The Warner Sound of Burt Bacharach. These 2-CD anthologies are both packed with rarities and familiar songs alike for a comprehensive overview of the Maestro’s recordings on the Warner family of labels.
The Warner Sound of Burt Bacharach is the more wide-ranging compilation of the two, drawing on recordings made not just for Warner Bros. Records but for Valiant, Festival, Elektra, Reprise, Scepter, and foreign labels like Italy’s CDG and Sweden’s Metronome. This 2-CD set is arranged chronologically, with the first CD covering 1962 (Dionne Warwick’s “Don’t Make Me Over,” her only appearance on the set) to 1978 (Nicolette Larson’s “Mexican Divorce”), and the second taking in 1981 (Christopher Cross’ Oscar-winning chart-topper “Arthur’s Theme”) to 2004 (Tamia and Gerald Levert’s “Close to You”).
On the Elektra label, Love scored a hit with “My Little Red Book,” presented here in its mono single version. The composer didn’t care for the band’s melodic liberties, but the Sunset Strip rockers’ version is today better known than the Manfred Mann original. From the Reprise catalogue, you’ll hear the great arranger Marty Paich with a swinging instrumental version of “Promise Her Anything,” a genuine Bacharach and David rocker originally recorded by Tom Jones. Trini Lopez’s groovy “Made in Paris” is also heard in its mono single version. Morgana King is sultry on a Don Costa arrangement of “Walk On By.” Buddy Greco delivers a hip “What the World Needs Now,” and Tiny Tim makes the same song his own. Ella Fitzgerald puts her stamp on “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” produced like Tiny Tim’s “World” by Richard Perry. Another production great, Wall of Sound architect Jack Nitzsche, brings a touch of class to the Paris Sisters’ dreamy “Long After Tonight is All Over.”
Numerous tracks on the first CD come from the worldwide Warner vaults. The two stars of the original Italian production of Promises, Promises – Catherine Spaak and Johnny Dorelli – are heard in their beautiful, low-key performance of “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” as released on the CDG label. The Sweden Metronome label yields Svante Thuresson’s “This Guy’s In Love with You,” Siw Malmkvist’s “I Say a Little Prayer,” and one of the strangest songs in Bacharach and David’s entire catalogue, “Cross Town Bus” as sung by the Gals and Pals in English. Australia’s Festival label – the original home of the Bee Gees – has been tapped for Noeleen Batley’s “Forgive Me (For Giving You Such a Bad Time)” and Jeff Phillips’ “Baby It’s You.” The treasures on the Warner Bros. label proper are just as eclectic, from Liberace’s gentle “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” to The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band’s torrid “I Wake Up Crying.” Harpers Bizarre’s “Me Japanese Boy (I Love You),” with an atmospheric Nick DeCaro arrangement, is another highlight. The Everly Brothers truncated Bacharach’s melody to “Trains and Boats and Planes” but their harmony blend is at its peak in a 1967 recording.
The second disc of The Warner Sound emphasizes latter-day R&B as Bacharach branched out with a variety of lyricists. Chaka Khan is heard on “Stronger Than Before” by Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager; Earth Wind and Fire on “Two Hearts” co-written with Philip Bailey and Maurice White; Tevin Campbell on “Don’t Say Goodbye Girl” co-written with Narada Michael Walden and Sally Jo Dakota; and Randy Crawford on “Tell It To Your Heart” from Bacharach and Tonio K. Mari Ijima’s original version of “Is There Anybody Out There” – penned by Bacharach, John Bettis, James Ingram and Puff Johnson – is a welcome surprise; the song was recorded in 2012 by Dionne Warwick on her Now album. Ingram is also heard with “Sing for the Children.” On the 1993 track, co-producer/arranger Thom Bell channeled Bacharach’s classic flugelhorn sound to great effect. Old favorites are also revisited and reinterpreted on this disc via Everything But the Girl’s “Alfie,” The Pretenders’ “The Windows of the World,” Linda Ronstadt’s “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” Anita Baker’s “The Look of Love,” guitarist Earl Klugh’s “Any Old Time of Day” and frequent Bacharach collaborator Elvis Costello’s “Please Stay.” With big hits (“Arthur’s Theme”) alongside rarely-anthologized gems (the George Duke-produced “Let Me Be the One” performed by Marilyn Scott), there’s something for everybody here.
After the jump: check out The Atlantic Sound of Burt Bacharach! Plus: track listings with discography and order links for both titles! Read the rest of this entry »
This five-disc set includes every single side released by Motown during the first half of 1972, a time of transition for the company. Berry Gordy had already moved his Detroit-based media empire westward to Los Angeles, leaving some of his flagship groups in a transitional period. The Jackson 5 still had their hits, but not with the blinding intensity of their earliest years (though Michael still enjoyed hits off of his solo debut Got to Be There). Marvin Gaye released a one-off single, “You’re the Man,” in between two masterpieces (1971′s What’s Going On and 1973′s Let’s Get It On), while Stevie Wonder began his journey as a fully in-control adult artist with “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)” from Music of My Mind. Both Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and Martha & The Vandellas released their farewell singles in this era, while a new up-and-coming band named The Commodores released their first.
It was certainly a unique time there, and now, it’s coming home, The Complete Motown Singles-style. That means gorgeous book packaging with a bonus 45 (devoted MoWest’s The Blackberries, whose single “Somebody Up There” actually was never issued as a 45), multiple essays (including by Motown engineers Russ and Ralph Terrana, Susan Whitall of The Detroit News), and track-by-track notes by Bill Dahl and producers Keith Hughes and Harry Weinger.
The box ships from Select on May 31 and from all retailers June 11. Hit the jump for a full track list and Amazon pre-order link!
Shuggie Otis, Inspiration Information/Wings of Love (Epic/Legacy)
Nearly 40 years after Inspiration Information, Shuggie Otis’ second and most recent LP, the R&B singer/songwriter/guitarist returns with a greatly expanded double-disc edition of that album featuring material recorded in the intervening years. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
David Bowie, Aladdin Sane: 40th Anniversary Remaster (EMI)
Blind Melon, Blind Melon: 20th Anniversary Edition (Capitol/UMe)
John Coltrane, Sun Ship: The Complete Session (Verve Select)
Frankie Valli, Hits (Rhino Flashback)
Dust, Hard Attack/Dust (Kama Sutra/Buddah/Legacy)
Four Kapp Records albums between 1966 and 1968 on two CDs from the crooner who welcomed us aboard The Love Boat later in his career!
It’s time for another 4 Seasons flashback, or Flashback, as the case may be. In January, Rhino’s budget Flashback imprint reissued two vintage compilations from the Jersey boys, 1965’s Gold Vault of Hits and 1966’s 2nd Vault of Golden Hits. Flashback is now turning its attention to the group’s lead singer, Frankie Valli, for a straight reissue of his 1978 solo compilation LP Hits due in stores on April 16.
The man born Francis Castellucio in Newark, New Jersey had his first taste of solo stardom in 1967 when “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” written and produced by his usual 4 Seasons team of Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe, ascended the U.S. pop charts all the way to No. 2. It was far from Valli’s first solo record, though. His very first released recording, 1954’s “My Mothers Eyes” by “Frankie Valley,” was sans group. But by 1956, Valli had joined with The Four Lovers, the group that eventually morphed into The 4 Seasons. That group’s history is well-documented: two consecutive No. 1 hits in 1962 (“Sherry” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry”), fifteen charted singles over the next two years, including six Top 10s and two No. 1s. Valli wasn’t relinquishing his spot with the 4 Seasons when he struck out on his own and charted his first solo hit with 1966’s No. 39 record “(You’re Gonna) Hurt Yourself.” Solo LPs arrived from Philips in 1967 and 1968, but Valli returned to the group, and didn’t headline another proper solo album until 1975’s Closeup. (He did, however, record a number of solo tracks and singles during the group’s 1971-1973 stint at Motown, from which Berry Gordy’s famous label assembled the album Inside You.)
There’s more about Frankie after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »
Billy Joel, She’s Got a Way: Love Songs (Columbia/Legacy)
Rodriguez, Searching for Sugar Man (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
The Blue Nile, A Walk Across the Rooftops / Hats: Deluxe Editions (Virgin/EMI)
Slated for release in the U.K. late last year, these two double-disc expansions of The Blue Nile’s first two LPs, featuring many rare and unreleased recordings, are on the schedule today, as well. (A Walk Across the Rooftops: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. - Hats: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
The Pogues, The Very Best of The Pogues (Shout! Factory)
Frankie Valli and The 4 Seasons, Gold Vault of Hits / 2nd Vault of Golden Hits (Rhino)
Say Anything, All My Friends Are Enemies: Early Rarities (Equal Vision)
Whether you consider them the East Coast answer to The Beach Boys, or rivals to The Beatles (as on a famous Vee-Jay LP compilation), Frankie Valli and the 4 Seasons have had a long, illustrious career. Despite having scored his first hit with the Seasons back in 1962, Valli has hardly slowed his pace over the years, overseeing companies and productions of the 2005 musical Jersey Boys, readying a film version, and recently performing a concert on Broadway with a new line-up of Seasons. The vocal group’s CD release history has been a checkered one, but Rhino is adding two new additions to the catalogue with the reissue of Gold Vault of Hits and 2nd Vault of Golden Hits. Both titles are set for release tomorrow, January 22.
These two reissues of original “greatest hits” collections mark the first domestic Seasons discs in a number of years. Collector’s Choice launched a comprehensive album reissue program in 2007 which was the best such campaign since Ace’s splendid, if now all but impossible-to-find, reissues of the mid-1990s. (Many of the Seasons’ albums were also made available in budget releases from Curb, some with altered track listings.) Rhino commemorated the rich musical legacy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees in 2008 with the 3-CD/1-DVD box set Jersey Beat, and Hip-o Select unveiled the long-awaited The Motown Years the very same year. Gold Vault of Hits was first released on the Philips label in 1965, with its follow-up 2nd Vault of Hits arriving the next year, in 1966. Both of these titles have been previously released on Curb, but Rhino’s new editions restore the original album artwork as well as the original track sequences.
After the jump: what 4 Seasons favorites will you find on these two new reissues? Hit the jump! Plus: pre-order links and complete track listings! Read the rest of this entry »
Weekend Wround-Up – Holiday Edition: Dean Martin, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and The Muppets!
- Dean Martin only recorded two Christmas albums in his career, one for Capitol (1959’s A Winter Romance) and one for Reprise (1966’s The Dean Martin Christmas Album). Yet every year, Martin’s holiday catalogue from both labels is usually reconfigured for a new release, often with songs added (singles, alternate takes, remixes), dropped or otherwise altered. 2011 is no exception, so completists might want to be on the lookout for this year’s edition of My Kind of Christmas on the Hip-o Records label. This release follows the 2009 collection of the same name but replaces the artwork and substitutes a posthumous Scarlett Johansson duet of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” in place of the Martin original. My Kind of Christmas follows the 2004 and 2006 iterations of Christmas with Dino, the 2010 A Very Cool Christmas (repackaging and renaming the Reprise album), 1998’s Making Spirits Bright, and scores of other similar collections drawing on the material from both labels, including Rat Pack-themed anthologies. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” isn’t Martin’s first artificial holiday duet; Martina McBride joined Dean on the 2006 Christmas with Dino for “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”
- Among this year’s rather slim crop of new Christmas offerings, one of the more interesting albums is Seasons Greetings: A Jersey Boys Christmas (Rhino R2 528586). Members of various companies of the Broadway musical Jersey Boys have teamed up for this album of seasonal favorites, including Tony Award winner John Lloyd Young, who originated the role of Frankie Valli in New York. The Four Seasons’ original member and producer Bob Gaudio has produced the album, with many (though not all) of the arrangements in classic Seasons style. If you’re planning to take a chance on this fun collection, however, you might want to pick it up at Target. The retail giant is offering a special edition with three bonus tracks: the brief interlude “Time Tunnel” (“Deck the Halls”) and two songs from the original 1962 Four Seasons’ Greetings LP performed by the actual Four Seasons. “Merry Christmas Medley (We Wish You a Merry Christmas/Angels from the Realms of Glory/Hark the Herald Angels Sing/It Came Upon a Midnight Clear)” and “What Child is This.”
Hit the jump to play the music and light the lights with the Muppets! Read the rest of this entry »
Indie label Light in the Attic Records has prepped an interesting catalogue compilation for release: an overview of one of Motown’s oft-overlooked divisions: MoWest Records.
By the 1970s, Berry Gordy had a grander vision for Motown than ever before – one that extended from music into the film industry. To do that, of course, he needed a base of operations in Los Angeles, and the label’s L.A. offices went from becoming a branch to the central nervous system of the company in 1972. (It’s this year that usually caps Motown compilations; should the final Complete Motown Singles box sets become ready for release, they too end at 1972, when the label finished moving west.)
But before everyone packed their bags for good (or left the label, in some cases), Gordy started a West Coast-centered imprint of Motown. MoWest, with its beautiful label design (the sun setting over a Pacific beach) and laid-back R&B soul roster that included underrated acts like Odyssey, The Sisters Love and G.C. Cameron, future stars including Thelma Houston, Syreeta Wright and The Commodores and one displaced legend in Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons began in earnest in 1971.
Unfortunately, the imprint and its roster never got the attention they deserved: Motown’s legends were still putting out gold – Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, Diana Ross’ burgeoning solo career and The Temptations’ experiments with psychedelic soul were some of the high points – and the label’s newest upstarts, The Jackson 5, were taking America by storm. MoWest folded in 1973, and although some of the acts would find success on Motown proper, too many of them did not.
That’s where Light in the Attic comes in. On June 14, the label is releasing a newly-remastered (from the original tapes, no less) 16-track compilation of tunes from the MoWest roster. Some of them have appeared on CD before – Hip-o Select did a set for Valli’s Motown years – but a lot of these tracks hew toward the obscure, so it’s nice to see them given the red carpet treatment. And, as if a CD release wasn’t cool enough, the set’s also coming out as a double-vinyl set, too.
Again, Our Lives Are Shaped by What We Love: Motown’s MoWest Story is out on June 14, and you can order it here. As always, the track list is after the jump. (Thanks to Ken Shane for passing this one along!) Read the rest of this entry »
Thanks to everyone’s favorite all-consuming pop star Lady Gaga, this week’s releases actually start a day earlier. Think of it as like being in England!
New Kids on the Block/Backstreet Boys, NKOTBSB (Columbia/Jive/Legacy)
Imagine a greatest hits EP for each band, augmented with three bonus tracks featuring all nine boy band members working together like some sort of insane, teenybopper Voltron. (Official site)
The Monkees, The Monkees Present: Expanded Edition / Changes: Expanded Edition (Friday Music) / Monkeemania: The Very Best of The Monkees (Rhino U.K.)
Between The Monkees’ 45th anniversary and a reunion tour featuring three-quarters of the band, it’s safe to say signs of Monkeemania may be found in music collectors. Enter this two-disc hits-and-rarities import compilation, and the band’s final Colgems LPs, presented with the same bonus tracks as Rhino’s original reissues in the 1990s but with new remasters. (Friday Music, Amazon U.K.)
Aerosmith, Tough Love: Best of the Ballads (Geffen/UMe)
Initially a Target exclusive (what great luck!), this collection of hard-hitting ballads like…um…”Love in an Elevator” is now available at all fine retailers. A new Aerosmith album has yet to surface. (Official site)
Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, Working My Way Back to You (Rhino U.K.)
As Jersey Boys continues its long run on both sides of the Atlantic, Rhino’s U.K. arm issues this double-disc compilation full of hits and some rarer stuff too. (Amazon U.K.)
Roseanne Cash, The Essential Roseanne Cash (Columbia/Legacy)
A double-disc, career spanning compilation from Johnny’s firstborn – and one which licenses tracks from all across her career too! That’s the best kind of compilation. (Official site)
Franke & The Knockouts, The Best of Franke & The Knockouts: Sweetheart Anniversary Edition (Friday Music)
A generous compilation from Friday Music for a band with one hit you may know (“Sweetheart”) and a lead singer who co-wrote two singles you more than likely do know (Dirty Dancing‘s ”(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” and “Hungry Eyes,” the latter of which is included in demo form on this set). (Friday Music)
Various Artists, ICON (UMe)
Louis Armstrong, The Gin Blossoms, The Mamas and The Papas, Willie Nelson, New Edition, Kelly Price, Conway Twitty, Muddy Waters and Hank Williams get an entry in The Compilation Series That Wouldn’t Die. (Amazon)