Closeup is singer Frankie Valli again finding the magic without his Four Seasons, this time in the '70s with two big hits in two different genres. The album is very, very good, and in a roundabout way is a great example of why Clive Davis worked wonders with Bell Records when he turned it into Arista. Former Bell president Larry Uttal had it all in this project, and it should have been much, much bigger -- it should have been the album to firmly establish Private Stock Records as a major player. But for all the incredible cast members and all the artistry here -- Jim Keltner on drums, Bobbye Hall on conga, Clydie King and Patti Austin on backing vocals (seven years before Austin's own number one hit), and the brilliant idea of having Four Season Bob Gaudio producing half the album in Los Angeles with Val Garay engineering while Bob Crewe produced the hits in New York City with Michael Delugg on the boards (and Charles Calelo arranging on both coasts) -- it is all packaged with a cover that looks like it was thought up at the budget label Pickwick International, and with only eight songs it just feels on the surface like less than what it actually is. The ten-minute version of "Swearin' to God" is certainly fun, but the 18 minutes for three songs on side two go by too quickly. They are also the best songs on the album, all produced by Crewe. A couple of additional titles, perhaps a special remake or two, could have made this album so much more for the artist, for the label, for the fans. "My Eyes Adored You" was the first number one solo hit for Valli, and hard to believe it came eight years after "Can't Take My Eyes Off You." That 1967 hit just missed the number one spot, and a new rendition for this album would actually have been a very wise move.
All of Valli's first six Top 40 solo hits were produced by Crewe, and hearing the different sounds he and Gaudio came up with for the veteran singer is half the fun of the album. "In My Eyes" is just an excellent album track, unmatched by anything on the first side. Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell, producers of the Toys, show up here as songwriters, as does Kenny Nolan, on an album where easy listening ballads meet disco. The song "Why" is producer Gaudio's best moment, followed by "He Sure Blessed You," another decent middle-of-the-road album track. Gaudio should have come up with a couple more. In the crazy business that is the record industry, this important artist, Frankie Valli, put out three albums in 1975 (two on Private Stock and one on Motown), with a seven-year lapse in hits prior to all this new activity -- the same span his group the Four Seasons had in their chart action. Seven long years. Had the team consolidated the hits and positioned the ones to follow -- "Our Day Will Come" and the wonderful minor hit from 1976, "Fallen Angel" -- all on this album, Closeup would have been a monster. It's an important and forgotten catalog item that needs to be expanded and re-released with bonus tracks and liner notes that give it its proper place in music history.