Who Loves You

The Four Seasons

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Who Loves You Review

by William Ruhlmann

After mounting a comeback as a solo artist with the hits "My Eyes Adored You" and "Swearin' to God" in 1974-1975, Frankie Valli, along with longtime partner Bob Gaudio, turned to their group, the Four Seasons, to work the same magic. The band had not charted since 1970 and had not released a record since 1973. Noting the success of the Bee Gees' "Jive Talkin'," a disco-oriented hit that most listeners did not recognize at first as a Bee Gees track, Gaudio fashioned "Who Loves You," set to a disco beat and emphasizing a harmonized chorus over Valli's solo singing, its title borrowed from the popular catch phrase "Who loves ya, baby?," frequently spoken by actor Telly Savalas on his hit TV series, Kojak. As a single, it peaked at number three in the Billboard Hot 100 in November 1975, the group's best showing in ten years. Naturally, this Who Loves You album quickly followed, and it found Gaudio, who had long been the Four Seasons' Svengali as singer, songwriter, keyboardist, and producer (but who had long since retired from their stage act), composing all the music and co-writing the lyrics with his wife, Judy Parker. It also found Valli backing off of his usual lead singing duties, often in favor of the smooth tenor of drummer Gerry Polci. (Significantly, the LP did not display a picture of the group on the cover, opting instead for an illustrated image of a miniature, silver-suited woman dancing on the palm of shadowed man.) It was Polci who took the lead on "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)," a song that neatly straddled an evocation of the Four Seasons' past with their dance-styled present and which, when released as a single, gave them their first number one hit since 1964. "Silver Star," a Walter Mitty-esque fantasy with even less involvement from Valli, penetrated the Top 40 as the album's third hit single. Valli did take the reins for the ballads "Storybook Lovers" and "Harmony Perfect Harmony," but those songs sounded like throwbacks. It is notable that as an LP, Who Loves You never got higher than number 38 in Billboard, even with those three hit singles, which suggested that the new fans the Four Seasons had acquired were a fickle singles audience who did not have much allegiance to them beyond the next dancefloor success. That fickleness would be demonstrated by the failure of their next album, Helicon, which attempted to push Valli (who had announced his imminent departure from the group) even further into the background.

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