Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons

Born to Wander

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As the subtitle declares, this is comprised of "tender and soulful ballads, folk-flavored." There's an acoustic feel to some of the arrangements, a cover of Pete Seeger's "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," and (in the biggest surprise of all) a cover of a then-unknown Phil Ochs' "New Town," a song that Ochs never recorded himself. Don't get the impression, however, that this is an overlooked pre-folk-rock statement. Basically, it's a typical mid-1960s Four Seasons album with a folkier feel to the production, and a few genuine folk tunes amidst a program largely comprised of material penned or co-penned by the Seasons' Bob Gaudio. The harmonies are nice and the presentation gutsier than, say, the Kingston Trio. But it's still much more of a polite folk-pop album -- the kind you could find everywhere in 1963 -- than a folk-rock one. Indeed, the LP is just pop-rock at times, and these actually are the best songs on the record: the hit "Silence Is Golden," for instance, and "No Surfin' Today," which owes more to the Beach Boys' ballads than it does to the Weavers. As for "New Town" itself, which is probably the prime cut for attracting collector interest, it's a fair but unexciting troubadour ballad (with banjo) without the protest politics that characterized most of Phil Ochs' early compositions.

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