Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons

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Chameleon Review

by Lindsay Planer

Chameleon (1972) was the only Four Seasons long-player released during Frankie Valli and company's brief association with Motown. While Valli's Inside You (1975) was issued on the parent label, this nine-track platter was relegated to the MoWest subsidiary. By the early '70s the original lineup of the Four Seasons had more or less dwindled down to co-founders Valli and Bob Gaudio (keyboards/vocals). As evidenced by the slick pop production values, the audio architects at Motown were treating the Four Seasons like any one of their other assembly-line vocal groups. Even though Valli and Gaudio had been concurrently incorporating the talents of Al Ruzicka (keyboards), Billy DeLoach (guitar), Lee Shapiro (guitar), Clay Gordon (guitar), and Paul Wilson (drums), it was music by committee thanks to Motown's behind the scenes movers and shakers known as the Corporation. Bookending the first part of the effort is the optimistic "A New Beginning," encompassing the funky, upbeat "Sun Country" as well as the sleeper soul classic "The Night." The latter garnered copious spins in the northern U.K. discotheque scene and subsequently became a Top Ten hit for Valli in England. The remainder of the disc vacillates between the musically audacious yet intimately arranged and introspective "When the Morning Comes" and, in stark contrast, the emphatic four-on-the-floor disco predecessor "Touch the Rainchild." Hip-O Select paired Chameleon with Inside You onto Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons' double-CD The Motown Years (2008) entry, which also included a handful of hard to find non-LP sides.

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