A smooth farewell to a classic lineup

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Released May 1970, Half and Half saw The Four Seasons returning to a more familiar pop and soft rock sound, after the critical success but commercial failure of January 1969’s Genuine Imitation Life Gazette. Longtime fans were confused and angered by this radical departure from their signature sound, and this change in direction did nothing to garner many new fans.

Songwriter Bob Gaudio went back to the drawing board for what turned out to be the band’s final album on the Phillips label, and produced songs that felt like a more mature, updated version of their previous hits. They’re the obvious work of The Four Seasons being themselves, not trying to remake themselves at a very awkward crossroads in popular music history.

Some fans feel the album suffers from its deliberate half-and-half direction (corresponding to the title). Half the songs are proper Four Seasons’ songs, while the other half are Frankie Valli solo. However, I don’t find that confusing or jarring. It’s just how this album came together!

I love how it showcases Bob Gaudio’s continued maturation and evolution as a songwriter. Of course the hits he wrote in the Sixties are awesome, but he couldn’t be expected to keep doing songs like “Dawn (Go Away),” “Sherry,” “Ronnie,” “Candy Girl,” and “Girl Come Running” as he approached thirty. It’s the same reason I no longer write like I did as a teenager, even though the core elements are much the same.

Songwriters, musicians, writers, artists, etc., who stay in the exact same style their entire creative careers are boring. All creators need to grow, evolve, change, mature, and develop over time. It doesn’t mean each project necessarily has a radically different style. One can easily mature and evolve within that same general voice and style. As new elements are added, they naturally mesh with the pre-existing style and voice.

It’s a shame The Four Seasons grew into such a smooth, mature style after their popularity peak. Their albums from 1969–77 are such a wonderful treat, possibly their best work, night and day next to their earliest hits most people associate with them, but most people are completely unfamiliar with them.

Sadly, most people automatically wrote them off as unhip, an embarrassing reminder of a different musical milieu. No matter how much they evolved with the times and tried different things, that could never cut it for people who’d already moved on to newer bands. A lot of artists who’d enjoyed great popularity in the early and mid-Sixties sank in popularity almost overnight in 1968-69, replaced by new bands. I’ve heard it called the British Invasion in reverse.

Half and Half only reached #190 in the U.S., though it did spawn three minor hits. This was also the final album to feature founding member and lead guitarist Tommy DeVito (who’ll turn 91 on 19 June). Truly, a perfect farewell to the second of their two classic lineups.

Track listing:

“Emily”
“And That Reminds Me” (#45 in the U.S.)
“Circles in the Sand” (probably my fave track!)
“Sorry”
“The Girl I’ll Never Know (Angels Never Fly This Low)” (#52 on U.S. Billboard; #32 on the Adult Contemporary chart)
“She Gives Me Light”
“To Make My Father Proud”
“Patch of Blue” (#94 in the U.S.)
“The Morning After Loving You”
“Any Day Now/Oh Happy Day (Medley)”

3 thoughts on “A smooth farewell to a classic lineup

  1. I listened to a lot of Four Seasons until about 1967 or so then turned to the emerging psychedelic and California rock sounds as well as the British Invasion groups. I probably should have kept up with the Seasons as I probably would have liked this period better than the earlier stuff that I had in my collection.

    They had a great sound and left a solid footprint in pop music history.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Carrie-Anne,

    happy 91st in advance to deVito. I hope he makes it and is in hale and hearty health for a nonagenarian.

    And the Valli-ness of HALT AND HALT is really something.

    Was looking for the writing about the 1985 and 1992 albums.

    “They’re the obvious work of The Four Seasons being themselves, not trying to remake themselves at a very awkward crossroads in popular music history.”

    About the British Invasion in reverse – the dynamics in San Francisco and London were really different. Am reading YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION: RECORDS AND REBELS 1966-1970 from the Victoria and Albert Museum – and the double-page spread I am open up to is 146-7 which talks about the whole climate of psychedelics and how they coalesced with music.

    If someone knew O HAPPY DAY and ANY DAY that would be a good start.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: The last gasp of a classic sound | Welcome to My Magick Theatre

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