August 31, 2007

CD Spotlight: Rag Doll

August 31st, 2007

Today’s exciting announcement about Frankie Valli’s upcoming CD, “Romancing the 60s” prompted me to play my absolute favorite Four Seasons’ CD of all time–”Rag Doll”!

The 45s were always playing nonstop at our house, and, as I’ve said before, thanks to my older brother’s great musical taste, the first song I ever remember was “Sherry.” Probably because we didn’t have a good stereo back then, we pretty much played only 45s–so; I didn’t have a chance to experience The Four Seasons’ albums until I was a bit older.

Well, not that much older–I remember during the summer when I was about nine, a neighbor had a garage sale. As I was going through her stack of albums, I discovered “Rag Doll”! Imagine some nine year-old yelling out, “Hey, Mom, OMG, check this out, Carol’s selling a Four Seasons album!” Carol, the neighbor, looked at me like I was nuts, but hey, this was big!

I was so excited to get back home to play it; however, my older brother and sister were too busy playing Carole King’s “Tapestry” album to share in my excitement of my “Rag Doll” find at the garage sale. Sure, “Tapestry” was critically-acclaimed, the biggest selling album for quite some time, and a Grammy winner the following year, but sorry, it wasn’t “Rag Doll”!

The Four Seasons’ earlier albums were all marvelous, with their early big hits and the group bringing their unique sound to many of the big hits from the ’50s. But what makes “Rag Doll” my favorite album is the fact that all of the songs are originals, penned by Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe; two cuts by Gaudio and Sandy Linzer; and a few written solely by Gaudio.

The album offers four of the group’s monster hits, along with some amazing cuts that could have easily made it to the top of the charts! Over the years, I’ve gone through a number a favorite cuts on the album. First, it was “The Setting Sun,” then it became “An Angel Cried” (yes! the great song in the first act of Jersey Boys), and now, it’s “Huggin’ My Pillow.” Ask me next week, and it might be “Danger”…

**Please note: On the original album, one of the cuts was the theme song from the 1964-65 TV variety show, “On Broadway Tonight,” but it has been replaced by “I’ve Got You Under My Skin on this CD.**

Listen to samples from this incredible CD and vote for your favorite hit and your favorite album cut!

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Rag Doll


  1. Frankie’s vocal of “An Angel Cried” is the best. On his rendition, Frankie uses his entire 3 1/2 octave vocal range from deep baritone to soaring soprano and Susie captures a little of that in the little snippet given here. Frankie really lets it go with a big finish at the end.

    The 4 Seasons performed “On Broadway Tonight” on the television show of the same name. Perhaps on “Jersey Beat” II we will get to see it, along with the funny give and take Frankie had with host Rudy Vallee which went something like this: Vallee to Valli: “We should form a duo ‘Vallee and Valli’” to which Frankie replies pointing to himself first “No Valli and Vallee.”

    Comment by David Cace — September 1, 2007 @ 8:04 am

  2. During the past several months, I have been putting together a collection of the 4 Seasons’ cd’s from the bargin cd rack at the supermarket. While I still have a fairly good turntable, I have not listened to the old vynal for many years. Imagine my delight at finding these cd gems and playing them again.

    The first ones I bought were “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “New Gold Hits”. I love the guys doing their versions of the R&R standards and also enjoyed the new sound they developed with the original material on “New Hits”. It clearly shows how they survived the British Invasion and the musical changes during the later 60′s.

    Next, I found the “Dawn (Go Away)” cd and “Rag Doll.” Dawn continued the Seasons’ treatment of R&R standards, adding a few originals such as “Big Man’s World”. Nicky’s lead on “Don’t Let Go” was a classic. But then I listened to the “Rag Doll” cd, my first listen to that album since the mid-70′s. WOW!!! I had forgotten how great that album was. New material that was fresh AND outstanding. It had also been the first 4 Seasons’ lp I had ever bought as a 13 year old kid back in 1964. Listening to it now, I catch the “maturing” of their sound. “Touch of You” is not meant for a teenager, although a young teen just expeiencing the first hand-holding and embraces of youth can appreciate it, as I did back then. “Marcie” carries on their girl-name tradition, while “Setting Sun” is again adult oriented. “Danger”, “No One Cares” (now there’s one this young teenage boy could get into!)all were great works.

    64/65 was a turning point in rock and roll music. Albums were moving to the forefront and would take center stage in 67 when the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper. But the Seasons’ had sensed this in 1964 when they placed an emphases on more original material in their albums. I find I am playing this cd at least once a week during my daily commute.

    I am glad the “Jersey Beat” cd set gave room to the album cuts the guys did. The 3-cd Rhino set in the 90′s just contained the hits. I went ahead and purchsed the new set because of the additional tracks. I am glad Rhino gave attention to the tracks mostly ignored by the snobs in the world of music critics. Yes, Ms King and her great album received mucho notice with that crowd. And she deserved it. But ignoring the work Valli, Devito, Massi/Long, Gaudio/Crewe, Linzer/Randell did on the 4 Seasons’ albums is a crime. Hence the cd devoted to “criminally ignored” B-sides!

    I am glad to read a post by someone like myself who is re-discovering these great songs thanks to the Curb re-issues. And like you, I lament the exclusion of the theme from the tv show “On Broadway Tonight.”

    Comment by JIm Hicks — September 1, 2007 @ 9:28 am

  3. I believe I have read somewhere that it was the Four Seasons who brought some Beatles material back to Vee Jay records. One theory was that it was for the Four Seasons to record some of their songs. Either way, Vee Jay ended up releasing Beatle records in 1963.

    There are still plenty of album tracks not on the compliations. There are some other tracks from “Chameleon” and “Who Loves You” that need compilation attention. Maybe there will be an updated “Rarities” release.

    Comment by Ted Hammond — September 4, 2007 @ 8:21 am

  4. I have heard the same thing too Ted. The song most talked about being covered was “Please Please Me” but the 4 Seasons already had “Walk Like a Man” in the can so it never came to be. Vee Jay signed the Beatles nonetheless and released some of their material but they went nowhere until the Beatles signed with Capitol records and had their big promotional push, and money, behind them. Some of the more notable Vee Jay material in addition to “Please Please Me” was “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Chains,” “Ask Me Why,” “Do You Want to Know a Secret,” and the Beatles cover of “Twist and Shout.” Most of these songs as I recall appeared on the rare Vee Jay album “The Beatles vs The Four Seasons,” the one with the scorecard on the back.

    It was because Vee Jay had these “old” Beatles songs in the can that when the Beatles hit it big with “She Loves You” and “I Want To Hold You Hand” on Capitol that Vee Jay immediately re-released “Please Please Me” and others and the Beatles dominated the top 5 spots on the charts except for “Dawn (Go Away)” that went as high as #3 as I recall.

    Vee Jay did the same thing with the 4 Seasons with releases “Stay” at approximately the same time as “Dawn” on Philips and “Alone” at approximately the same time as “Ronnie” on Philips. Others singles were attempted like “Since I Don’t Have You” and others but they never really hit. Vee Jay was the king of repackaging later trying to capitalize on the “Wonder Who” with the release of “Peanuts” and “My Sugar” as I recall.

    Comment by David Cace — September 4, 2007 @ 9:50 am

  5. “The Beatles vs. The Four Seasons” on Vee Jay is one of the most valuable albums, #2 most valuable of all albums, as I recall. But beware, there may be counterfeits out there, like anything else collectable.

    But it is ironic that the Seasons’ total chart domination was possibly cut short by bringing the Beatles material to Vee Jay’s attention.

    Others would say Capitol would have signed them anyway, but who knows?

    Comment by Ted Hammond — September 5, 2007 @ 9:15 pm

  6. Who knows is right Ted.

    There was a front page article in the Bergen Record about 5 or 6 years ago about “collectibles” and it reported that the hot collectible was “The Beatles vs. The Four Seasons” album on Vee Jay and that a mint condition stereo version was going for $5,000. I am not much of an eBay person but I did find a “good” condition mono BvFS album for $250 about 3 years ago. Fortunately the person who owned the album originally did not use the scorecard on the back of the album so its clean without any markings so for that price I jumped on it right away. The same person was selling the Joe Ritchie “Little Joe Sure Can Sing” album for only $35. Picked that up too.

    The original Four Lovers “Joyride” album has got to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,000 if not more by now as well as the extended Four Lovers EP with cover. Maybe Howard’s friend Joe Petrecca can add some information on the current market prices for these and other 4 Seasons and related albums.

    Note 1: The Bergen Record is a newspaper principally serving the Bergen County New Jersey area. As a frame of reference, Frankie Valli’s hometown of Newark NJ is in Essex County which borders Bergen County – Bob Gaudio’s hometown of Bergenfield is in the northern part of Bergen County [although Bob was originally from the Bronx NY].

    Note 2: Joe Ritchie aka Joe Pesci.

    Comment by David Cace — September 6, 2007 @ 6:58 am

  7. Friday, Frankie Valli will be performing at Freedom Hill in Sterling Heights, MI, in the center what might be called “Little New Jersey”. He should feel right at home.

    Comment by Ted Hammond — September 6, 2007 @ 11:10 am

  8. I wish I had bought that Beatles/4 Seasons’ record back in the day! Another 4 Seasons’ album I wish I had bought was one I saw at an A&P grocery store back around 64 or 65. It was an ablum on Era records with their song “Bermuda”. I had never heard the song, so I didn’t want to pay the $2.99 to purchase the record!

    To this day, I have not heard the song and of course, I have never seen that album again.

    Comment by JIm Hicks — September 8, 2007 @ 7:49 am

  9. I think that “Bermuda” and “Spanish Lace”, the B or A side depending on the market, are lost in some dispute over who owns what rights. I have heard both. “Spanish Lace” has quite the same sound of the Four Seasons in later material. I actually heard “Spanish Lace” played on the radio in 1963 on WTRX 1330 Flint, Michigan. “Spanish Lace” was released in 1961. It was originally done as a solo by Bob Gaudio as “Turner DiSentri” on Topix 6001.

    Comment by Ted Hammond — September 8, 2007 @ 12:58 pm

  10. Don’t feel badly Jim, $2.99 was a lot of money back in 1964, my guess would be about $25.00 in today’s dollars. And the BV4S was a double album so I believe the original price was $4.99 back then or about $50.00 or so in today’s dollars.

    Another interesting fact about the BV4S was how cheap VeeJay records was. Not only was VeeJay the king of repackaging material and selling the same material over and over, but if you look at the actual records in the BV4S album you will see that they used the same records that appeared in “The Golden Hits of The Four Seasons” and “Introducing The Beatles.” VeeJay didn’t even change the record labels to reflect the title of the new album cover.

    VeeJay had The Four Seasons and the Beatles and Jerry Butler and Betty Everett and other great artists and they never had money. I think Howard and I need to do an audit.

    Comment by David Cace — September 8, 2007 @ 5:52 pm

  11. Speaking of Vee Jay, which also had The Dells early in their career, and Rag Doll, it is interesting to note that most almost all the number one songs by the Four Seasons have now been duplicated with another song by the same name. Presently, another “Big Girls Don’t Cry (Personal)” by Fergie rides near the top of the Hot 100. I give them credit for adding a subtitle, though it seems to have been added recently. Another “Sherry” with no subtitle by the Keane Brothers reached #84 in 1976, Another “Walk Like A Man” (no subttitle) reached #19 for Grand Funk Railroad in 1973. Another “Rag Doll” (no subtitle) by Aerosmith reached #17 in 1988. Still another “Rag Doll” (no subtitle) by Sammy Johns reached #52 in 1975. The Dells, who as we said before had also been on Vee Jay had “Oh, What A Night” which reached #10 in 1969. I give the Four Seasons a lot of credit for making “December, 1963″ the actual title, and “Oh, What A Night” as a subtitle. I think the rest should have used subtitles for the new and different songs. I guess you can’t argue with a good song name, though, even to this day.

    Comment by Ted Hammond — September 9, 2007 @ 10:18 am

  12. If you listen to Frankie’s recent concert ending to “December 63″, his last line seems to be very
    much like the opening verse of the Dells “Oh What A Night”.

    If that was intentional, what a clever nod to a song
    with a similar title.

    Comment by Ray Ricci — September 10, 2007 @ 3:13 pm

  13. I have JOYRIDE LPM-1317. It’s in what I would consider very good to excellent condition. I bought it in 1967 at a garage sale and have only played it once, knowing that it was going to be valuable. Jacket is in very good condition also. I’m at [email protected]

    Comment by George Costa — June 26, 2009 @ 4:44 pm

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