Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
No Sad Rag Here
BluesDuke | Las Vegas, Nevada | 06/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Unlike a lot of their earlier contemporaries, the Four Seasons took as much care, mostly, making albums as they did cutting those breathless hit singles, the title track of this album being perhaps the most sublime of the lot.
The story behind the song, in case you didn't know: A small girl in a soiled dress accosted Seasons pianist/composer Bob Gaudio at a red light while he was driving home from Manhattan and squeegeed his windshield (this was years before the squeegee kids became infamous in New York); it's said he fumbled for a dollar to give her, found he had nothing smaller than a five, and gave her the five anyway, then couldn't take his eyes off her through his rearview mirror as he entered the tunnel for home. He was so unable to get her plain, dusty appearance out of his head that he wrote a song about her when he arrived home, using this kid as a model to fashion a classic rich-boy-poor-girl love song.
Then they took it to the studio and, with producer Bob Crewe, beat Phil Spector at his own game. The "Be My Baby"-derived opening backbeat sets up an arrangement that trimmed the Wall of Sound sagaciously, as if to prove you could get that booming sound without crowding--in fact, the only instruments are: drums, glockenspiel, hand percussion, and Seasons bassist Nick Massi and guitarist Tommy DeVito, the latter playing it practically as a fourth percussion instrument. "Rag Doll" remains perhaps the most bristling love song in the Four Seasons' repertoire; and, beneath that undercrowded Wall of Sound the earnestness in Frankie Valli's voice (he sounds almost in mourning singing "When she was just a kid her clothes were hand-me-down/they always laughed at her when she came into town"), and the urgency of the Seasons' punctuating lines, tells you everything you need to know about how these guys were closer to being soul singers than their image has suggested. "Rag Doll" became their final number one hit*, it deserved to be a number one hit, and if it had to be the last time they climbed that pinnacle ("Rag Doll's" conqueror at the top of the heap: "A Hard Day's Night"), they couldn't have picked a better shot.
The single was (and remains) so overwhelming that it's easy to dismiss this album, but you shouldn't. There isn't a bad cut on this album, even if nothing measures up to "Rag Doll," not even the hit which preceded it ("Ronnie"). "Rag Doll's" followup hit, "Save It For Me," was just as adventurous an arrangement as the former, even if the organ sounds as much like a skating rink as a rock and roll instrument; "Funny Face," its flip, is a sweet ballad in spite of its rather trite lyric. And if you're handing out points for guts, hand them to the Seasons' audacious re-arrangement of "I've Got You Under My Skin," eventually a hit single. The original album did, indeed, include "On Broadway Tonight," the theme for an extremely short-lived television variety show (memory instructs it to have been aimed at competing with "The Hollywood Palace"), but it's the one song on the album that sounded dated before it finished playing (pretty much like the TV show did, in fact); its exclusion actually amplifies the album. To the reviewer who alluded thereto earlier on this page, the song did turn up as a flip side - for "Let's Hang On."
It's good to see this and the original "Dawn (Go Away)" albums back in print. It wouldn't hurt to resurrect a couple more of the Seasons' albums, either, most particularly, "Born to Wander" - with the irreplaceable "Silence is Golden" - "The 4 Seasons Entertain You" and "Working My Way Back To You," which includes the beauteous "Beggars' Parade." The Four Seasons' reputation rests forever (as well it should) on their incandescent 1962-67 singles. But they made some very engaging albums, too.
(Earlier, I said "Rag Doll" was their first number one hit, a faux pas a subsequent writer was kind enough to correct. To said writer, who commends "Comin' Up In The World" from the "Working My Way Back To You" album, I say the former is a pleasant choice but not quite up to "Rag Doll's" standard. If I had to pick anything from "Working My Way Back To You" that meets that standard, I'd have to go with "Beggar's Parade"...)"
BillyC0109 | Trenton, NJ | 10/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had been hearing the Seasons quite a bit on the radio over the summer, and I decided to buy the old Anthology CD from 1990. That only made me want more. So I bought an LP, and figured that even if the other songs sucked on this album, then at least I'd have "Rag Doll" and "Ronnie" and "Save it For Me". I didn't have to worry about that though because every song on this album is great. I especially think "Huggin My Pillow" coulda been a hit. I am only 16, my parents dont like Valli's music much, but me and my brother sure do. I greatly reccomend this record to any fan of the Four Seasons music."
Good 60's doo wop lives on
Charles M. Moss | Millersville, MD United States | 04/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Four Seasons are my favorite group of all time. This album features 3 bonified hits-1 number one (Rag Doll), and two top ten hits-Ronnie and Save it for Me. All of the other songs were written exclusively for the group. Each one could have been a hit in there own right. Huggin My Pillow should have been released as a hit, but it wasn't because of their number #1 hit Rag Doll. I was lucky enough to see these guys back in 1968 in Maryland and they were in their prime and Frankie's falsetto was still strong and he sang all of their hits including Sherry, Rag Doll, Ronnie etc. Their harmony was of the street corner catagory, just simply great. Unfornately I recently found out that Frankie has more or less lost his voice, what a shame and what a lost for the music industry. For the reviewer named Danny Beirne, if you want to get a copy of "On Broadway Tonight",
all you have to do is purchase a copy of the double cd entitled Dawn/Go Away-Rag Doll. This is an import from Ace Records which has both albums as they were released back in 1964. You may be able to buy a copy from Collecters Choice Music...."