I've always been a huge fan of the Four Seasons. One of the first CDs I ever bought was a Rhino compilation of their hits, dreadfully mixed for stereo with the vocals and backing tracks hard panned into opposite channels. Twenty years later, I still have it. At the time, however, my roommate forbade me to play it when she was in the house. Seeing as how I was a participating member of the American Independent Rock Scene, my love of the Four Seasons was highly inappropriate. My colleagues didn't merely dislike their music, they categorically declared it shit. It was the kind of music that should be eradicated from the face of the earth.
Imagine my amusement then, to be in an entire theater full of Four Seasons fans! Yes, the "Jersy Boys" road show finally came to my town, and you can bet my wife and I made the scene. All around me, retirees clapped and sang and laughed at the appropriate moments while I squirmed in my chair at what was essentially a corny and sentimental presentation. Not that I expected anything else. While all the "jukebox musicals" I've seen succeed wildly at packing as many familiar songs into their alloted time frame as possible, rarely do they get the actual story right. What bothers me more is the way the songs are presented. I don't care for it when rock and roll songs get the typical Broadway treatment, coming off as anthems of personal triumph, rather than what they were actually intended to be: vehicles for getting the performers laid.
I am thankful to "Jersey Boys" for one thing, however. Thanks to the show's success, the online reputation of producer Bob Crewe has been buffed back to where it belongs. A year ago, when I posted Crewe's "Let Me Touch You" album, the net was relatively barren of Crewe tributes. Now I can cherry pick my favorites. The best of the current crop is a two-part article over at the Pop Culture Cantina, where Don Charles Hampton offers an exhaustive rundown on the Crewe career, paying special attention to his many collaborators.
Among them was Charles Calello, who both arranged and conducted this great album, which I found tucked in between my copies of "Music To Watch Girls By" and "Street Talk." Every bit as good as its awesome title is long, the album's "recorded in England" cover tag and liner notes by Andrew Loog Oldham places the Four Seasons right in the heart of the swinging mid-sixties British club scene, despite the blue-collar spin "Jersey Boys" puts on the group's oeuvre.
For Calello's part, after his work with the Four Seasons, he went on to produce and/or arrange hits for artists like Barry Manilow ("Daybreak"), Engelbert Humperdink ("After The Lovin'"), Glen Campbell ("Southern Nights") and Kenny Nolan ("I Like Dreamin"). If my brothers and sisters in the Alternative Rock Army had known the kind of company I was keeping, I might never have passed my probation period.