Is the Word / Heaven Above Me
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Frankie's move to Warner Brothers coincided with his smash hit title song to the musical Grease, which headlines '…Is the Word', while the hit 'Where We Did Go Wrong' leads off 1980's 'Heaven Above Me'. Bob Gaudio is back behind the board for both, too.
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can certainly stand on it's own merits. "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You", "My Eyes Adored You", "Grease" are
just some of the solo hits that everyone is familiar with. But there has been so much more from Mr Valli that
is NOT well known. Everytime this man went into the recording studio you can tell he gave it his all and enjoyed making GOOD music. Hard to find these days! This particular collection has some very good selections.
I enjoy a GOOD ballard and my fvorites in here are, "If It Really Wasn't Love", "Sometimes Love Songs Make Me Cry", "You Better Go", "Without Your Love" and "Needing You". As someone who has just about everything Frankie and the Seasons have ever recorded I believe you will enjoy this collection. There will NEVER be a voice like Frankie Valli's again!
The problem really was the false belief that he could forge a solid solo career without the Four Seasons. The rock industry set out to kill disco in 1977 and he abandoned the Four Seasons to go solo with material like this. Although competent it is as others have said...out of time...but Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio are also responsible for failing to see this. Performances are however excellent and if the disco and ballad mixture of songs is to your taste this is well worth having...particularly for the driving 'Soul/Heaven Above Me' which was so good 'Live' on the 1980 tour.
These Warner/MCA album marks the end of Frankie Valli's real 'solo' career but he would never recover and find an original and organic sound as he did with the 1976/77 Four Seasons.
Despite the fetching addition of Hubert Laws on flute for "A Tear Can Tell" and "No Love at All," much of "Frankie Valli is the Word" is unmemorable. While Valli could still sing himself past the disco-era monotony, the songs here aren't strong enough to keep the listener's attention. The most successful tracks are the hook-filled "Grease," and slower, sparer ballads like "Without Your Love" and "You Better Go." Once the disco drums and strings get going, Valli hasn't the material to overcome. The same can be said for Valli's 1980 follow-up, "Heaven Above Me," which features several fine ballads, including the bottom-of-the-chart-scraping Chris Forde duet, "Where Did We Go Wrong." Once again, though, the production team couldn't shake themselves free of disco's affectations, even as the music's commercial fortunes waned. The 6:45 "Let It Be Whatever It Is" sounds like it was recorded four years earlier, with a driving dance beat, horns (including a sax solo from Tom Scott), female background singers and a throwaway lyric of Studio 54-like sexuality. Forde returns for a duet on the 10:29 medley of "Soul" and "Heaven Above Me," but the mechanical rhythm is better suited for the disco than the home stereo. The closing "Eat Your Heart Out" offers a hooky pop melody, albeit with a standard disco beat and lyric.
As with Valli's final LP for Private Stock, his pair of albums for MCA found him unable to locate a profitable way to spend his considerable vocal talent amid the sounds of the late `70s. Valli's disco hangover was rendered somewhat inert by the presence of the Bee Gees connection on "Word," but without the inspiration of a Barry Gibb hit single, the follow-up album returns to the uninspired ground he's visited a couple of years before. As on most of Valli's solo albums, the ballads, despite their canonical arrangements, provide the requisite scenery to chew, and the occasional upbeat hit allows him to fly past disco convention. Neither of these albums are Valli's best work of the `70s (that honor goes to "Closeup" and "Valli"), and other than "Grease" and a few fetching ballads, these are more for completists than fans. 3-1/2 stars, if allowed fractional ratings. [©2008 hyperbolium dot com]