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Customer Review

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lost Masterpiece Is Found, 19 July 2008
This review is from: The Motown Years (Audio CD)
I didn't think we'd be treated to an official release of the collected Motown recordings of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons on CD, so it's a dream come true to finally hold the precious thing in my hands. Forget the bootleg version released a few years ago, the lovely Ellen Fitton has remastered everything from the original tapes and helped reveal a lost masterpiece. I am referring to the group's CHAMELEON album. Perhaps the record was too far advanced for 1972, but it sounds perfect for 2008. I can't help comparing it with Beach Boys records of similar vintage and I have to say the West Coast guys were putting out very patchy stuff. CHAMELEON is a joy from start to finish with enormous production values, heavenly background vocals, and Frankie Valli in top form. Talking of backing vocals, I'd love to know who the gospel choir on POOR FOOL is - presumably one of Motown's great groups of the day.
The liner notes don't mention that the wonderful YOU'RE A SONG (THAT I CAN'T SING) was the first 45 release in the UK (or that it was somehow skipped over for the US) and I can honestly say that each and every album track could have made a great 45. What were they thinking of back in 1972 not to make ANY of them an A-side in the States?
The first CD of the set follows this genius album with another half a dozen tracks, including two non-Bob Crewe productions. Back in 1973, I really loved WALK ON, DON'T LOOK BACK and that faux-retro sound, with Frankie reprising his stunning falsetto. This mix of the song is the cleanest I've ever heard, with that attractive galloping percussive effect for the latter part of the song. Hal Davis produced Frankie's stunning version of George Clinton's LIFE AND BREATH, which has to be my favourite Frankie Valli Motown solo recording, alongside the superb INSIDE YOU.
Over on disc 2, other Motown producers were in the chair for Frankie's cover versions of Brenda Holloway's JUST LOOK WHAT YOU'VE DONE and the Four Tops' BABY I NEED YOUR LOVING, both of which ought to please Motown fans.
The liner notes by Brian Chin are pretty brief but there is an explanation for the duplication of various tracks, Several reprises of songs from CHAMELEON and later singles can be heard" on the album INSIDE YOU "with major and minor tweaks: a longer fade on HICKORY, an adjusted string section on LOVE ISN'T HERE, and more notably, the deletion of the intro monologue on LIFE AND BREATH and a brand new mix of THE NIGHT."

This set includes what is probably the best album Frankie and the 4 Seasons ever made. Go for it!
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 23 Nov 2013 20:07:33 GMT
Trebor H says:
I can't agree more, the reviewer says it true!

Posted on 7 Jan 2015 21:08:15 GMT
Last edited by the author on 13 Jan 2015 10:54:37 GMT
Your review of this under-recognised gem really nails it!
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Location: London, England

Top Reviewer Ranking: 7,695,819