Snapper Reviews Part Three - Motown Unreleased

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Snapper Reviews Part Three - Motown Unreleased

Post by John »

Now looking at Disc 22, the Motown Unreleased, this is the largest collection of new material from the group for a very long time. To be fair, quite a bit of stuff was released by Motown between 1972-1974 and the danger has always been there that the best of it was already out there and that Frankie and Bob were right to only take My Eyes Adored You with them when they left. But I'm prepared to take the risk that they were wrong, and to some degree I think they were, but not completely.

The test for me is, if I was showing somebody some superb Four Seasons music, would I be happy to play a track or not? Chameleon is no problem, superb stuff. There are plenty of high quality releases after that, and I would choose to demo With My Eyes Wide Open and Inside You, two tremendous tracks that we used when choosing our new HiFi. The guys in the shops stopped in their tracks when they heard these and they are totally impressive. So why those were left at Motown is a mystery to me.

Looking at the material on Disc 22, there are some highlights and Stop, Look, Listen to Your Heart is one of them. Wow, so well done. There are also moments reminiscent of Bob Gaudio's material for Diana Ross's album "Last Time I Saw Him". Nothing happens in isolation. Hymn to Her and Lovers have sections that are really strong, and I know these are firm fan favourites, but they are allowed to go OTT as Frankie tries to hit notes that no human being has ever been designed to hit. And does. However, just because you can.....and as a consequence they are sometimes spoilt for me.

The classic of this selection IMHO is Future Years, and that I think hits the spot perfectly. It doesn't try too hard and it comes off better. Of course, Bob Gaudio (painfully I expect) reviewed all this material and agreed that it could be used, but I would guess with some reluctance and full credit to him and Frankie for allowing us this priceless gift of insight into an era that they found uncomfortable. The group-written I Wonder Why survives and in in here, and it's a solid performance, although it's a million miles away from the direction things were to take so soon afterwards with Who Loves You.

There is more of course and one track we do know of (it's on YouTube) is the Wonder Who? reprise Tomorrow Tonight. I can see why it might not have been included, but Frankie's imitation of Rose Murphy is brilliant and the track is also interesting in that the backup vocals are totally 1960s Four Seasons, perhaps because Nick Massi and Bob Crewe were in the mix as well. The group has always been jazz-influenced, and to see exactly how good the Wonder Who? style is and how pure jazz it is, look up Rose Murphy's version of I Can't Give You Anything But Love. So no Wonder Who? on this Snapper disc, it's one of a handful that got away.

Disc 22 for me is one that is incredibly valuable and interesting and has its highlights, but I don't feel it's the best of what they did at Motown. Others will disagree, but time will tell as the excitement of actually having it beds in. Make no mistake, this disc is a core reason for the boxed set, and it opens up an era where so much recording was done and nowhere near all of it was released.
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