Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons

Streetfighter

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After a flurry of solo and group comeback hits in the mid-'70s, Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons parted company in 1977 following the release of the Seasons album Helicon. But without Valli, the group foundered, and Valli's career was threatened by a disease that damaged his hearing and had to be corrected with surgery. By 1981, the singer and his band were, as the title of a live album put it, Reunited, and four years later they produced their first new studio release in eight years, Streetfighter. Valli and his partner, Bob Gaudio, owners of the Four Seasons name, had always tried to keep up with the times musically. After the Beatles turned the world psychedelic with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, they came up with The Genuine Imitation Life Gazette; when disco was hot, they had hits with dance-worthy songs like "Who Loves You." So, it was not surprising that Streetfighter was intended to be the kind of record that could be played on the radio along with contemporary stars like Cyndi Lauper, Wham!, and Howard Jones. Its arrangements, as usual provided by Charles Calello, were dominated by synthesizer programming and electronic beats. This might have offended the ears of old fans who remembered '60s hits like "Sherry," not to mention those who longed for '70s hits like "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)," but Valli and Gaudio weren't interested in them; they wanted a new fan base. Beyond those trendy arrangements, however, these were still pop songs written in a Tin Pan Alley/Brill Building style. The primary creative force on the album, in fact, was Sandy Linzer, who had written old hits like "Dawn (Go Away)" and "Working My Way Back to You." He contributed to five of the album's eight tracks and also served as primary producer. As a result, the title song was an identifiable work of tough-guy-with-a-heart-of-gold sentiments in the mold of earlier Four Seasons records, even if it sounded like it would have fit right in on the soundtrack to Beverly Hills Cop. The old doo wop hit "Book of Love" was transformed into something that could have been performed by Toni Basil of "Mickey" fame, but it was still "Book of Love." And when things slowed down toward the end of the disc, Linzer and his co-writer, Irwin Levine, provided a moving adult contemporary ballad in "Once Inside a Woman's Heart." Unfortunately, unlike the '70s, Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons were not able to mount another comeback with Streetfighter in 1985, and it was back to singing the hits on the oldies circuit.

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