All of Frankie Valli's hit songs with the 4 Seasons have been lovingly assembled on a two-CD set on Rhino Records, "In Season: Frankie Valli & the 4 Seasons Anthology," which contains 51 remastere
Ask Frankie Valli for his favorite 4 Seasons song, and he's quick on the draw.
"It would have to be our first one, 'Sherry,' " he says. "It gave birth to an incredible career, and we were blessed to have hit after hit. I think a lot of them have turned out to be timeless songs."
In all, the 4 Seasons amassed 48 entries on The Billboard Hot 100 beginning in 1962, including the No. 1 hits "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Rag Doll," "Walk Like a Man," and "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)." As a solo artist, Valli scored nine hits, including the chart-topping "Grease" and "My Eyes Adored You."
All of those songs have been lovingly assembled on a two-CD set on Rhino Records, "In Season: Frankie Valli & the 4 Seasons Anthology," which contains 51 remastered tracks and extensive liner notes. In addition, the label is releasing a companion set, "Off Seasons: Criminally Ignored Sides From Frankie Valli & the 4 Seasons," comprising another 20 tracks. Both hit retail May 15.
"The 4 Seasons were to the East Coast what the Beach Boys were to the West," says Jimmy Edwards, product manager for Rhino. "We've treated both of these packages as historical documents. The group's commercial success is staggering, and we felt like sometimes their huge influence has been overlooked."
At oldies radio, the 4 Seasons' and Valli's music remains at the forefront; they consistently rank among the format's top five most-played artists. "Here's a group that never strayed from what they were originally known for: great harmonies, songs that are short and sweet, and hooks that stick in your brain," says Kevin Robinson, PD of oldies WJMK Chicago. "It's just a real sweet sound."
The 4 Seasons formed in the mid-'50s in Newark, N.J., first as the Variatones, then the Four Lovers, and finally the 4 Seasons, named for a local bowling alley. As the Four Lovers, Valli and company scored a No. 62 hit, "You're the Apple of My Eye."
"We did 'The Ed Sullivan Show,' and it created enough excitement to get us the opportunity to work in clubs," says Valli, who turned 70 May 3. "We'd been starving for a long time, and I realized, 'This isn't bad; I can do this.' "
With songs written by group member Bob Gaudio, Valli and the 4 Seasons soon became one of America's premier acts, charting 40 times in the 1960s. The group has scored hits across four decades, the last being in 1994 with a remixed version of the 1975 No. 1 "December, 1963."
Via the Internet, Rhino will offer promotional downloads from the anthology, and a campaign is planned at oldies radio, with a push toward recognizing some of the 4 Seasons' lesser-known tracks from "Off Seasons." "These songs show an experimental side to Frankie Valli that hasn't been exposed as much as the hits," Edwards says.
"Off Seasons" includes the 1969 song "Saturday's Father," about a broken marriage where a father visits his children once a week. "We performed that on a television show, and there was total silence when we finished it," Valli recalls. "I saw people with tissues and handkerchiefs. It was totally unexpected from the 4 Seasons, because it dealt with such a serious social problem.
"The nicest part of my career is that I've had the opportunity to do so many types of music," he adds. "It's nice to see all of these songs in one place after all these years. This is for the fans, since what they've given to me is priceless."