June 24, 2008
Collectors' Choice Music
Pop/Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Soft Rock

Album Review

The fourth of Collectors' Choice Music's two-fer reissues of the solo albums of Frankie Valli, this disc combines the singer's seventh and eighth LPs, his last solo recordings until the release of Romancing the '60s in 2007. The two albums, Frankie Valli...Is the Word (1978) and Heaven Above Me (1980), are unusual for Valli in that they represent a rare period when he was not pursuing dual careers as the lead singer of the Four Seasons and as a solo artist. In 1977, he had formally withdrawn from the Four Seasons, having seen his solo career suffer in the previous couple of years after the big comeback he had mounted with the hits "My Eyes Adored You," "Swearin' to God," and "Our Day Will Come" in 1974-1975 as the group, in which he was already taking a diminished performing role, scored with "Who Loves You" and "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" in 1975-1976. Valli's solo albums of 1976 and 1977, Valli and Lady Put the Light Out, were flops. But then he was brought in to sing the newly written title song for the movie adaptation of the Broadway musical Grease by the song's author, the Bee Gees' Barry Gibb, resulting in a platinum-selling number-one hit. Frankie Valli...Is the Word was Valli's tie-in LP for the hit and, not surprisingly, much of it echoed the sound of the wildly popular Bee Gees, even though it was produced by Valli's longtime partner Bob Gaudio. The album charted, but it was not a big success, suggesting that Valli's latest comeback was more reflective of the popularity of the Bee Gees and Grease than his own return to favor. Valli and Gaudio, with former 4 Seasons producer Bob Crewe, next positioned Valli both as an adult contemporary hitmaker in the mold of Barry Manilow and as a contemporary dancefloor singer à la Donna Summer on their next collection, Heaven Above Me, and they were rewarded with a Top Five AC hit, "Where Did We Go Wrong," and nearly six months for the LP in the dance/disco charts. Unfortunately, Valli, suffering from a rare hearing disease, was at first unable to capitalize on the success, and then he decided to return to lead a reunited 4 Seasons lineup, once again scuttling his solo career. Heard on the Collectors' Choice reissue three decades later, the material from the two albums inevitably sounds like the times in which it was made and seems to demand only a mirror ball, platform shoes, and wide lapels to complete the effect.
William Ruhlmann, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Grease
  2. Needing You
  3. Sometimes Love Songs Make Me Cry
  4. Without Your Love
  5. Over Me
  6. Save Me, Save Me
  7. You Can Do It
  8. A Tear Can Tell
  9. You Better Go
  10. No Love at All
  11. Where Did We Go Wrong
  12. Let It Be Whatever It Is
  13. If It Really Wasn't Love
  14. Passion for Paris (An American in Paris)
  15. Soul/Heaven Above Me
  16. Just Tell Me You Love Me
  17. Eat Your Heart Out
purchase full album