December 2, 2011

Friday Flashback: ‘The Puppet Song’ by The Four Seasons!

December 2nd, 2011

“The Puppet Song” by The Four Seasons was composed by Jet Loring and Artie Schroeck. This track was included on the album “The 4 Seasons New Gold Hits” in 1967.

This song sounds like it easily could have been released as a single back in ’67–with the great orchestrations, Frankie’s “growl,” and the powerful background vocals.

Do any of you guys have any details on this song? Did the Seasons ever sing it live in concert?


  1. It’s a great song, and is also on one of the Rhino Rarities Volumes.

    Artie Schroeck arranged “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”, and played the electric piano on “Summer In The City” by The Lovin’ Spoonful. Artie did many other arrangements and sessions with many other artists. Those are the ones 1960s Pop Fans would probably remember best. As I recall, his first big break was when Lionel Hampton heard him play keyboards in a music store, and asked him to join his band.

    As far as playing it live, I refer you to David, Howard, and other experts who post on this blog.

    I think this song and others were already being eclipsed by the political upheaval and street pharmaceutical advocates that began dominating the pop charts in 1967.

    Comment by Ted Hammond — December 2, 2011 @ 5:39 pm

  2. “The Puppet Song” is one of my favorite 4 Seasons album cuts. I would also agree with Ted’s comments.

    Being a Jersey boy, I saw many a 4 Seasons concert since they performed often in the NJ/NY area and I never heard the 4 Seasons sing “The Puppet Song” in concert. While it is possible the song could have been in the act for a couple of month or so and I missed it, my guess would be that given the rehearsal time needed to get a song perfected to perform in a show that a song would stay in the act for a while before being taken out.

    This is not to say that the 4 Seasons, or Frankie solo, didn’t perform album cuts in their shows…My Mother’s Eyes, My Funny Valentine, Secret Love, Since I Don’t Have You, Little Darlin’, Don’t Let Go (Nick Massi lead), Connie-O and Marlena (technically B sides), Stay (first a Vee Jay album cut before becoming a hit single), Silence is Golden, Circles In The Sand, and the fabulous Any Day Now/Oh Happy Day medley come to mind.

    In later years “A New Beginning” and “Love Isn’t Here Like It Used To Be” from Chamelon. “Silver Star” by Gerry Polci and “Slip Away” by Don Ciccone from the “Who Loves You” album also come to mind. Also “I’ve Got Love For You Ruby” and “I Need You” by Frankie, and Frankie still does “Native New Yorker” on occasion.

    If I can think of others i will list them in a subsequent post. Unfortunately none from Genuine Imitation Life Gazette.

    And then there were songs in concert that were never recorded, or never appeared on an album anyway…like “I Love You More Today Than Yesterday,” “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” “The Long and Winding Road,” and Frankie’s breathtaking version of “Love Story.” The one song that was in the act for a very short time was Frankie’s rendition of “Michael and Peter” from “Watertown” just before the album’s release by Frank Sinatra.

    Comment by David Cace — December 2, 2011 @ 11:37 pm

  3. Lets not forget the other track that appeared solely on this New Gold Hits album, the brilliant “I’m gonna change” with it’s great bass track.
    Once again little exposure of this song at the time, particularly over here in the UK where I had never heard of it until I bought the Rhino “FV&4S Rarities Vol 2″ in the 1990′s.
    As a final thought – it’s great to see “Tell it to the rain” back in the current concert performances by FV and the backing group. By all accounts the Four Seasons group at the time (with Joe Long) had a great time performimng this song live on stage !

    Comment by Brian — December 3, 2011 @ 5:37 am

  4. The Velours cover of “I’m Gonna Change” is #480 on the Northern Soul All Time Top 500. FV4S originals of “You’re Ready Now” and “The Night” are further up the chart. Here’s the YouTube video with the Velours 45 showing that it was composed by Mike Petrillo and Anthony Cifelli, who also wrote “Tell It To The Rain” and “A Patch Of Blue”.

    Mike Petrillo also cowrote “Electric Stories”, and played saxophone on a number of FV4S recordings. He also produced an early group that featured Eric Carmen.

    Comment by Ted Hammond — December 3, 2011 @ 8:51 pm

  5. I have a set list of songs played by the Seasons from about the time the New Gold Hits album was released in 1968. I don’t see the “Puppet Song” ever being played at the concerts. I also do not remember the guys ever playing the song at any of the shows I attended. I have been going to Seasons concerts since 1964. It is possible that they did play it a few times to see what the audience reaction was when the album was released and then didn’t play it live anymore if the reaction wasn’t positive.

    In case anyone is interested, here is the set list of songs being played at live shows in 1968 through 1970.

    The Four Seasons Overture; Sound of Music medley:
    Working My Way Back to You; Dawn; Can’t Take My Eyes Off You; How Do You Make a Hit Song?;
    Cmon Marianne; My Mother’s Eyes; Don’t Think Twice; Tell It to The Rain; Rag Doll
    Medley: I’m In The Mood for Love/Moody’s Mood for Love;
    Medley: Sherry/Walk Like a Man/Big Girls Don’t Cry/ByeBye Baby;
    I’ve Got You Under My Skin
    Let’s Hang On ……

    Jerry D …

    Comment by Jerry D — December 4, 2011 @ 9:35 pm

  6. Yes they did Brian. “Tell It To The Rain” was such a great stage song when performed live in concert by the original four guys who recorded it. Tommy was brillant on guitar throughout, the bridge with Frankie going back and forth vocally with Bob, Tommy and Joe was fabulous, and then Bob on organ and Tommy on guitar together on the bridge, with thunder sound effects thrown in for good measure and often with the lights going on and off. “Tell It To The Rain” was usually followed with another song from the “New Gold Hits” album – “C’mon Marianne” another real rocker when performed live by the same guys who recorded it. That was then followed by The Medley (“Sherry” – “WLAM” – “BGDC” – “Bye Bye Baby”) and by that time the crowd rose instantaneously to their collective feet. Once the crowd calmed down it was time for “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” More standing Os and then an encore of “Let’s Hang On” more standing Os and usually followed by encore after encore. For those who never saw a Frankie, Bob, Tommy, and Joe Long concert you missed a event you would never forget.

    Comment by David Cace — December 4, 2011 @ 10:37 pm

  7. David – Thanks for your interesting “In Concert” comments.
    In the UK we saw very little of the group in the 60′s A London Palladium performance I think in 1962 or 63.
    My first FV&4S concert was in 1971 at the London Hammersmith Odeon (A tour put together following the surprise UK success of the re-issued “You’re Ready Now” that was a hit on the Northern Club circuit.)
    Unfortunately Tommy had left the group just before then (He was still in the group’s PR photos within the 1971 tour brochure, which I still have got stored away somewhere !) Again no advance knowledge of this change before the UK tour, so it was a surprise to see Bob Grimm in Tommy’s place.
    So unfortunately I never got to see either the original 4S or the next best thing FV,BG,TdV & JL in concert. In 1972 the London concert was short of Bob Gaudio with Al Ruzica replacing him; And Clay Jordan & Demetri Callas in the lineup.
    At both these concerts the guy who held it all together was Joe Long, a great bass player, personality and concert MC.

    Comment by Brian — December 5, 2011 @ 10:26 am

  8. Is there anyone more universally liked than Joe Long? Within a few months of joining the group in 1966 (one or two shows in December ’65) he stepped up to become the MC of the shows as you say.

    I saw Bob Grimm perform in the 4 Seasons band/orchestra, but never as a singing performing member. By all accounts I have heard and read he was an outstanding guitar player. What Mr. Grimm lacked, as did all of the excellent subsequent lead guitar players was Tommy DeVito’s wit and stage presence. And Joe Long was a perfect companion to Tommy on stage. What is not discussed in the above concert/show comments is the stage songs and skits…and impromptu humor… that were an integral part of any 4 Seasons concert during that period.

    If you haven’t already read it Brian, The Jesrey Boys Blog has an excellent (3 part I believe) interview of Joe Long which is available from the archives…late 2007/early 2008…go to the search feature. Joe talks about many things including the concerts and his interaction wiht Tommy on stage. Also check out the Genuine Imitation Life Gazette for an interview of Joe…and a special event held in Joe’s honor a few years ago.

    Comment by David Cace — December 5, 2011 @ 3:33 pm

  9. To be concise and convenient, here are the links to the Joe Long Interview Parts.

    Comment by Ted Hammond — December 5, 2011 @ 4:54 pm

  10. Brian…If I’m not mistaken Bob Grim only appeared as part of the Four Season’s line-up during that 71 British tour.

    I remember Frankie introducing him as a new member which Bob actually took issue with on stage. (Club Fiesta-Stockton-on-Tees)

    I don’t think that Bob returned to the US after that tour and stayed in the UK for a while pursuing other musical interests.

    He is, of course, immortalized in those “Top Of The Pops” video appearances during that same year.

    Bob had nothing but praise for Frankie and Bob Gaudio during that time period. He filled a crucial role in keeping the stage band together for that tour as I believe that Tommy DeVito had just exited the group.

    I think that Jersey Boys refers to it somewhat in the play dialog.


    Comment by Ray — December 7, 2011 @ 7:33 am

  11. Hi Ray Thanks for your comments.
    As you were at the Club Fiesta in Stockton-on-Tees in 1971; Can you confirm the reviews I read at the time in N.M.E (New Musical Express)etc that the FV&4S concerts went down a storm in the Northern Clubs in both the 1971 & 1972 UK tours ?
    I remember leaving (at the end !) of the 1971 London concert and hearing a number of audience comments along the lines of “They sound just like on their records” Quite an achievement given the harmonies and falsetto involved !
    The other feature of the 1971 tour was the subsequent UK recording of “Whatever you say c/w Sleeping Man”
    Am I one of the few owners of this 45rpm rarity ? Not that many copies were pressed let alone sold. Once again minimal, if any, airplay in the UK (Don’t know about the USA ?)

    Comment by Brian — December 7, 2011 @ 3:36 pm

  12. Brian, there’s an excellent website called ARSA that has many charts from all over the USA, showing what was played on many stations from that era.

    I cannot find a listing for “Whatever You Say” or “Sleeping Man”.

    The following chart appeared just yesterday showing “Hickory” was being played on WPOP Hartford, CT, one of the first, if not THE first to play “Sherry” in 1962. Here is the link.

    The first chart to ever show the Four Seasons (so far)was WNHC New Haven, CT, who played “Bermuda” in early 1962.

    Comment by Ted Hammond — December 7, 2011 @ 6:11 pm

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