March 18, 2008

The Four Seasons’ Signature Sound!

March 18th, 2008

As Broadway hit Jersey Boys, revealing the rags-to-riches tale of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, opens in the West End TONIGHT,’s John Coleman salutes the group’s signature sound & rise to fame from the mean streets of New Jersey.

Thrilling Four Seasons harmonies might resonate with early Sixties Beach Boys sounds, but Valli’s team retained a street-orientated edge to their pop symphonics. When the Seasons’ backing vocals counterpoint Valli’s crystal clear top notes on “Sherry”, they could easily be a bunch of hoodlums echoing the emotional mini-dramas and the wrong-side-of-the-tracks attitudes of their troubled youth. While the Beach Boys were celebrating sun, cars and (by 1966) the mind imagery of psychedelia, the Four Seasons were keeping to the real world. In “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Walk Like a Man” and “I’ve Go You Under My Skin”, it’s all about those important things in a regular Jersey boy’s life, such as falling in love, the break-ups and the broken pride.

Dennis Diken, musicologist and drummer with the 1960s-influenced Smithereens (another New Jersey band), once put it this way: “Their records evoke the feel of New York City. You can picture the buildings, feel the rhythm of people walking the street and riding the subways.”


  1. As examples of Four Seasons covers of other artist’s songs, a lot of columnists are mentioning “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and its arrangement. Some internet sites have called their version of “Ain’t That A Shame” a wildly different arrangement. “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” and the campy Wonder Who “Lonesome Road” are two more covers with substantially different arrangements. I like all of these better than the original arrangements. The Four Seasons truly made these their own.

    Comment by Ted Hammond — March 19, 2008 @ 6:18 pm

  2. Ted is right as usual. The 4 Seasons also covered many other artists songs on their albums and made them their own as well, mostly good like “Long Lonely Night,” “A Sunday Kind of Love” (pretty much the same arrangement as in the play), “Breaking Up is Hard to Do,” and “Do You Wanna Dance,” as just a few examples, and some not so good like “Sixteen Candles,” and “Earth Angel (not the same arrangement as in the play).

    Comment by David Cace — March 20, 2008 @ 11:15 am

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