Happy 40th: The Four Seasons, HELICON
40 years ago this month, The Four Seasons released an album which had originally been intended as their swan song but ultimately only proved to be their last album for a really long time.
Produced – as any Four Seasons fan worth their salt probably already knows – by the group’s longtime studio collaborator, Bob Gaudio, HELICON was the first album by The Four Seasons to emerge since 1975’s WHO LOVES YOU, which had provided the group with the #1 hit single “December 1963 (Oh, What A Night).” Despite Gaudio’s generally-magic touch with the guys, HELICON failed to deliver a single which came anywhere close to reaching the top spot. In fact, the only single released from the album, “Down the Hall,” stalled at #65, despite having a hook that Billy Joel would’ve killed for in ’77.
In a 2014 interview with Rock Cellar Magazine, Valli acknowledged that he had “played very little part” in the HELICON album and effectively summed up the results of the record with a single sentence: “It did terrible, and that’s when that band broke up.” By the following year, Valli had released a new solo album, FRANKIE VALLI…IS THE WORD, and just in case you couldn’t guess from that title, ’78 was also the year in which Valli scored his own #1 hit single with “Grease.”
Thankfully, however, HELICON did not prove to be final Four Seasons album: 1985 brought STREETFIGHTER, which – although it sounds undeniably like it was released in 1985 – came closer to a return to form than many skeptics might have believed possible.
As for the Four Seasons’ current final studio album, that honor presently goes to 1992’s HOPE + GLORY, which – for reasons we can’t explain (mostly because we didn’t release it) – seemingly didn’t offer up a single. If you’re at all curious about how Valli and company sounded at the time, however, we can help:
And now that you’re all caught up, it’s time to go listen to HELICON again!