Recently released on the Jasmine label (JASCD 565) this 2 CD set covers the very early formative years of Frankie Valli, from 1953-1959.
We start off with Frankie's first ever recording "My Mother's Eyes"/"The Laugh's on Me" where his 16 year old voice is heard for the first time, not yet fully stable or properly settled. Even so, there are elements of this recording that are still there in the Vee Jay version of 1964 and the Philips version of 1966. Even the name isn't quite settled yet, as we have Frankie Valley, Franki Valli and finally Frankie Valli.
The second recording "Somebody Else Took Her Home"/"Forgive and Forget" is mush more mature, and to be honest sounds to me much later as the voice is more powerful and mature than the Four Lovers recordings of 1956-57. I put this as 1958.
Folowing are the Four Lovers tracks, including the minor hit "Apple of My Eye"/"Girl In My Dreams" which were re-recorded in 1962 for the "Sherry" album. These early recordings have Frankie soaring all over the place and the vocals are raw and undeveloped, with plenty of hints of the controlled power that is to come. Many of the tracks comprise the RCA album "Joyride". The instrumental work is energetic and sharp. Interestingly, two live versions have also been included and these are just the same standard as the studio recording. Thye last Four Lovers offering "Pucker Up"/"My Life For Your Love" is much more mature and all we need now is the change of name to The Four Seasons.
The final few tracks are just pre-Four SEasons and Frankie is now fully in control of his vocal range. The lower range is firm, powerful and melodic and soars effortlessly and without break into that hallmark falsetto. The last tracks are "Come Si Bella"/"This is Real", well worth hearing, and the next step will be the first Four Seasons single "Bermuda"/"Spanish Lace" followed by the explosion of "Sherry"/"I've Cried Before". The Four Seasons tracks are not included here, but the final track is the Hal Miller and the Rays version of Bob Gaudio's "An Angel Cried". This features The Four Seasons as backing vocals only. If you want to hear their version of this, then the Rag Doll album is the place to look for it. This last one has clearly been included as it features in Jersey Boys.
All in all a collection that is interesting, but very much for those who are interested and can stand the assault on the ear drums!
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