Friday, 6 June 2014

I Wonder Why?

The Wonder Who? was a pseudonym used by the Four Seasons, who released a cover of the Bob Dylan song Don't Think Twice (truncating the correct title of the song) under that name in 1965. An outtake from their Sing Hits By Bacharach, David and Dylan album, the story has it that Valli was not happy with his vocals during the recording of a ‘straight’ version of Don't Think Twice, It's All Right and he decided to record the song with a ‘joke’ falsetto vocal to ease the tension in the studio.

As the group were still enjoying hit singles (Let’s Hang On had been a Top Three hit recently and their next single, Working My Way Back to You would go Top 10) to save damaging the group’s career it was decided to issue the track with the Wonder Who? nom-de-plume. Everyone involved was surprised when it became a major hit, peaking on the Billboard charts at Number 12. Called ‘about the most camp cover of a Dylan tune that could be imagined’ by Richie Unterberger on, lead singer Frankie Valli, bizarrely, decides to blow falsetto raspberries throughout the recording. Valli made this rather peculiar sound (which, to be perfectly honest, I first assumed was a flaw in the mastering) in imitation of the singer Rose Murphy, who used the brrp, brrp sound of a telephone ringing on her hit Busy Line.

Not ones to look a gift horse in the mouth, the Four Seasons and Philips kept the joke going a little longer, resurrecting the Wonder Who? for this dismal and, frankly, ridiculous cover of the Shirley temple classic On the Good Ship Lollipop, backed with an equally awful reworking of the old chestnut You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You – with both songs again featuring Frankie dong his best (or worst) impersonation of a Trimphone. Both sides scraped the Billboard 100, with On the Good Ship Lollipop peaking at 87 during its’ three-week run and You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You reaching the giddy heights of 96.

Their third outing as the Wonder Who?, 1967's Lonesome Road, peaked at 89. A fourth Wonder Who single (sans the question mark) was simply a reissue of an old Four Seasons recording, Peanuts, issued as a cash-in by the group’s former label Vee-Jay. On the Good Ship Lollipop would also be covered (and issued as a single in 1969) by perennial pop outsider Tiny Tim.

The Four Seasons would continue to release records – and score hits - under their own name and under that of leader Frankie Valli (real name Francesco Stephen Castelluccio) for the next decade. Throughout their now 50-plus year history the various line-ups of the group have issued tracks under a variety of names; Frankie Valli solo releases have turned up on Four Seasons albums and vice versa, and Valli – who suffered a debilitating deafness for almost two decades before having it corrected by surgery – is still touring today, fronting a new version of the Four Seasons as he enters his 80s. As the new millennium arrived the hit musical Jersey Boys reignited interest in their career once again, Valli appeared in a number of episodes of the hit TV series The Sopranos and, in 2007, a remix of their 40-year old single Beggin’ saw the act return to the UK charts a full 45 years after their first British chart entry, Sherry.


No comments:

Post a Comment

WWR Most Popular Posts