Audio With A G: Sounds of A Jersey Boy, The Music of Bob Gaudio (2CD)
By Charles Alexander
Frankie Valli was always the front man and most famous of the Four Seasons. Then there was Bob Gaudio. Fans knew that the original Seasons keyboard player wrote most of the group’s music, but not until JERSEY BOYS did the general public begin to recognize the name Gaudio. Now he’s a character on the big screen, winningly portrayed by Erich Bergen, and it’s time for people to know what a big deal Bob has always been. The truth is, the JERSEY BOYS play and movie barely scratch the surface of Bob’s career. He wrote and produced for several stars besides the Seasons, including Frank Sinatra and Diana Ross, and his classic compositions have been covered by countless other artists for decades. That’s why I decided to produce the first compilation of Gaudio’s songs, as performed by everyone from the Royal Teens to the Temptations. Released on July 1 by Rhino Entertainment, it’s a 2-CD set called Audio With a G: Sounds of a Jersey Boy – The Music of Bob Gaudio.
It took me only seven years to get this done. Seriously. I first proposed the concept to Bob in 2007. He liked the idea and even gave it the name Audio With a G. So I spent a year or so collecting mp3s, making demo discs and writing notes for each song. I sent the demos to Bob, and he and his wife Judy (his lyricist for many of his classics) listened to them on a car trip. While Bob didn’t exactly tell me to “come back when you’re black,” he wasn’t very encouraging either. He liked my album, but thought it would be impossible to pull off because the master recordings I needed were controlled by so many different record companies. Undeterred, I kept on refining my discs and, in May of 2010, I finally flew from my home in New York City to Los Angeles to present my demos in person to Kevin Gore, head of Rhino.
He said he wanted to help me produce the album, but theoretical support and actually putting something on the agenda are two different things. I exchanged e-mails with various Rhino execs for more than a year. I also visited Universal Motown’s office in New York and traded several e-mails with Ace Records in the UK. But I seemed to be spinning my wheels, and I eventually gave up in early 2012. This just wasn’t going to happen. I had to get on with my life.
Fast forward to February 10, 2014. I picked up the phone that afternoon, and it was Rhino’s Mark Pinkus. He said that Rhino wanted to put out Audio With a G, in exactly the form I proposed to the company nearly four years earlier. Rhino’s licensing department would immediately start contacting other companies to obtain the rights to the songs Rhino did not already control. It turned out that my Gaudio collection would be part of Rhino’s four-barrelled barrage of Seasons-related products released at about the same time as the JERSEY BOYS movie. (We originally wanted to release them just before the movie but couldn’t quite get it done in time.) Besides Audio With a G, there was a monumental box set of 18 Four Seasons albums, a box set of 8 Frankie Valli solo albums, and, most important of all, the fantastic movie/musical soundtrack produced by Bob Gaudio himself.
I would like to thank Mr. Clint Eastwood for not only making a terrific movie, but also bringing my pet project back from the dead. And a big shout-out to Danielle Gaudio-Lalehzar for providing a wonderful picture of her father that I had never seen. If you choose to explore Audio With a G, you will discover many things you never heard in JERSEY BOYS:
1. Not only many of the greatest hits of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, but also recordings by Frank Sinatra, Diana Ross, Cher, Roberta Flack, Nina Simone and many others.
2. Two tracks from The Genuine Imitation Life Gazette, the most ambitious and audacious Four Seasons album Gaudio ever wrote. The album wasn’t a hit only because it was way ahead of its time. You can’t know how good Bob was on the piano until you listen to “Wall Street Village Day.”
3. No less than three versions of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”: the original by Frankie Valli, a gorgeous jazz version by Nancy Wilson, and the disco treatment by Boys Town Gang. What do you mean you never of those Boys? They took this track to No. 4 in the UK.
4. The biggest Four Seasons hit that many people have never heard. “The Night” was a huge hit in Europe but was inexplicably never released as a single in the U.S. Audio With a G contains both the original of “The Night” and an edgy cover by New Wave rocker Lene Lovich.
5. Two songs from the London musical based on the movie Peggy Sue Got Married. Three years before the La Jolla premiere of JERSEY BOYS, Gaudio made his theatrical debut as the composer of Peggy Sue. One of these songs, “Two Kinds of Fire,” has never been commercially released before now.
Rhino was able to license most of what I wanted for this treasure chest. While some of you experts may be able to guess a few things that I wanted but couldn’t get, I’m not telling what they are. Maybe I’ll get a chance to try again, if enough people buy Audio With a G. Plenty of great stuff is left over for a Volume Two. As my good friend Crez Capece pointed out recently, the G in front of this audio stands for genius.
To purchase on Amazon, click HERE.