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Steve Ison
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Steve Ison

2/7/2013 2:37:23 PM ---- Updated 2/7/2013 2:57:01 PM

The Four Seasons
The Four Seasons were never considered 'hip' - in their heyday (and as far as i know never have since )
They're deemed positively square next to bands like The Beatles and Stones, but their songwriting and productions are to me every bit as adventurous,exciting and strange in their own way as them both...

I enjoy their really early 60s ultra-falsetto ones too, but its by the mid 60s where their songs started to get really magical n cool for me..

The playful feint at being a dewy eyed doo-wop ballad at the start of Lets Hang On before bursting into that great fuzz riff...

The Sunshine exhuberance of Opus 17 with about 6 key changes !

The outrageous n relentless slamming be-bop rythm of C'mon Maryanne
(an idea borrowed by Bowie n Iggy to equally good effect on Lust For Life)

The pleading blue-eyed soul of Beggin'

Can't Take My Eyes off YouThe most idiosyncratic n eccentricly brilliant 'easy listening' MOR standard ever ,surely..
How many others can you think of that have the nerve to break into a strident strip-club trumpet march between the verse n chorus ?

Its 2 songs they did in the 70s that are even more magical than those for me tho...Both exhibiting a level of inspiration, skill ,creativity,intensity n major/minor modulation to maximise dynamic mood contrasts sadly not seen at all in todays pop writing..Both utterly transcendent,timeless,compelling n exciting adventures in the art of dramatic musical storytelling..

As records,both produced n performed with stellar musicianship/arrangement...I mean they SOUND totally fantastic too...

Who Loves You

The Chorus
in A at the beginning with its beautiful,friendly life-affirming melody repeated cyclically over those simple maj/minor chords.Departing suprisingly to the Am as things suddenly get chillier n more mysterious n minory 'When tears are in your eyes'..

The pivotal chord change in this song for me is the brilliant, inspired leap from the G to the Bsus ('Happy when you're GREY ')- ramping up the tension n suspense as those grey skies suddenly start swirling ominously - as the beautiful ascending melody,sung to the heavens begins ('Baby when you're feeling like') then descending over that lovely suspension 'You'll never see the morning light' before landing on the Am7[ (Come To MEEEEEEEEEEEEE' ), where the clouds magically depart in an instant- replaced by a glorious technicolour sun and with the 'Baby You'll see' arriving safely back home again..

Except now we're not 'home' at all-but in G rather than the original home key of A.. They work that problem out with neat sleight-of-hand, modulating back to the A from the Din the 2nd part of the chorus..So skillfully done you wouldn't even notice..

If all that wasn't enough we then get an added supa-cool funky breakdown in the middle with those trippy wonderful 'Doo-Doo's too !

Total Genius

My absoloute favourite by them (and one of my favourite tracks ever ) has to be
The Night..A staggeringly cool single, amazingly not even deemed worthy of release in the US by their record company at the time (although it was a minor hit in the UK) .
Its one of the most dramatic,intense songs i've ever heard...

Beginning with that totally ominous n strange G#-G B-C Bass (there's no tabs anywhere on the net for this so i've done my best to work it out )..

Such a cool chord progression on guitar G#-Gm -G7-Cm then breaking out into the tough,urgent,pleading R'n'B middle bit 'So he paints a pretty picture' Fm-A#-G7-Cm-G#-Gm-G7-Cm -The 2nd part of the chord progression here cleverly repeating the verse one (G#-Gm -G7-Cm) but at a higher intensity and with a far more urgent vocal line-

Finally arriving at the gloriously triumphant sing-a-long chorus The Night Begins To Turn Your Head Around (A fast changing G#-D#-G#-A#) -Which is the only 'majory' feel thing in the whole song but such a wonderful n needed contrast in vibe..

The final part of the chorus fades to a wintery B#m,preparing to plunge you dramatically back into the chilling,eerie vibe of the verse once again..What a thrilling ride !

Such a brilliant song..Its like the toughest,most passionate 60s soul filtered thru a dream/nightmare psychedelic haze

Both these songs are just about as good as pop music gets for me

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Richard Scotti

2/8/2013 7:57:55 AM ---- Updated 2/8/2013 3:20:16 PM

I agree that the Four Seasons always got a bad rap as being not "hip" but they were innovators and ahead of their time on many levels. They never grew their hair long or wore fringed jackets but their approach to song writing, harmony and production were just as creative as the groups who did. They stayed within the parameters of who they were and produced honest visionary work that seemed simple and accessible but was deceptively complex. One of my favs was "Rag Doll." The drum breakdown at the end and the vocal rave up was a song ending that always gave me goose bumps, especially with the tagline: "I love you just the way you are". The whole lyric was a form of social commentary about acceptance and class struggles.
The B-side was "Silence Is Golden." In 1967 the song was a number one hit on the UK Singles Chart for the English band, The Tremeloes.

Since we're walking down memory lane: Check out "Dead Man's Curve" by Jan and Dean; "With A Girl Like You" by the Troggs; "A Lion Sleeps Tonight" by the Tokens; "Laugh, Laugh" by the Beau Brummels; "From A Window" by Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas; and the beat goes on.....

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Dick Aven

2/8/2013 3:57:34 PM

I was just playing their music for my kids a couple of nights ago. I told them that in '74 'Just Hang On' blew my mind when I saw a clip on TV. I was in third grade and I remember that I demanded the album from my parents who bought it for me. I also love the song 'Rag Doll'. That was when I started getting actively into listening to music. At that same time I also remember being captivated by the album 'A Question of Balance' by The Moody Blues. My daughter, who is 13, liked quite a few FS songs that I played .

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Steve Ison

2/10/2013 1:31:02 PM

Richard..The unsung heroes for THe Four Seasons are def ace songwriters Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe..Love with a girl like You and 'From A Window' -written by Lennon and McCartney !

Dick..Very cool you're helping open up your Daughter to classic music thats not just top 40 :)

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