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Four SeasonsFrankie Valli & The Four Seasons are what many people don't like about "oldies" radio. Despite the fact that the group scored four #1 hits in the early 60's (including "Big Girls Don't Cry"), they get ignored on playlists nationwide. The fact is, to modern - that is, post-Beatle - ears, the Frankie Valli's singing sounds screechy, and the group's vocal and instrumental arrangements sound clunky - and the whole thing sounds darned uncool (think Lou Christie with bigger balls...). In fact, after the Beatles invaded America, Frankie Valli and his boys didn't chart another #1 hit till 1975's "December 1963 (Oh What A Night)" - and that was a disco song!

Personally, I think the group is vastly underrated - a sort-of white, adenoidal Motown hit machine - so I beg to differ. But, The Four Seasons' Christmas Album won't change any minds. The record captures the Four Seasons at their screechiest and clunkiest, and some of it is admittedly pretty dreadful. Perhaps the most uncool moments are the endless medleys of alleged holiday favorites - hopelessly square, painful listening.

Four SeasonsNow, bearing in mind that I love the Four Seasons, their Christmas Album has few special moments, too. Only a few of the songs are granted rock arrangements, and those are the cuts worth keeping. Two of them, "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" and "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" were released and charted as singles (in 1962 and 1964, respectively). And, it was the Four Season's arrangement of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" (probably the work of producer Bob Crewe) that inspired the Jackson Five's - which, in turn, inspired Bruce Springsteen's. Now, that's cool!

Beyond that, "Christmas Tears," which served as the b-side of both singles, is a decent pop ballad. And, "Jungle Bells (Dingo-Dongo-Day)" (cowritten by lounge music hero Sid Bass) is a fun novelty, doubly so because of its obscurity. The only other version I'm aware of the 1953 reading by Les Paul & Mary Ford. It's dreadfully silly stuff - circus animals celebrate Christmas in the jungle - but that's what Christmas music is all about, right?

Before we close, it's more than worth noting that an early version of the Four Seasons - known as The Four Lovers - recorded a really fine, funny, doo wop version of "White Christmas" for RCA in 1956. It remained unreleased, however, until Bear Family included it on their compilation The Four Lovers 1956 (1989)

Consumer Notes. Christmas Album was originally released in 1962 by Vee Jay Records as The Four Seasons' Greetings, then reissued in 1966 by Phillips Records as The Four Seasons' Christmas Album. That later package was reissued in 1986 on LP and CD by Rhino Records, then again on CD by Curb Records in 2002. In 2013, a version of the original album finally showed up courtesy of Hallmark Music - a Pickwick subsidiary unaffiliated with the greeting card company. [top of page]

Albums Albums

SongsSongs

  • Christmas Tears
  • I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
  • Jungle Bells
  • Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
  • White Christmas (The Four Lovers, 1956)

Further ListeningFurther Listening

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