September 25, 2020

1990-01-13 – The Pittsburgh Press

1990 01 13 The_Pittsburgh_Press_Sat__Jan_13__1990_

InduCtees from Page C6

The Four Seasons

Lead singer Frankie Valli had a glass-
shattering falsetto that combined with
the shimmering pop production of Bob
Crewe -— who co-wrote the hits (“Sher-
ry," “Big Girls Don’t Cry," “Walk Like a
Man") with group member Bob Gaudio
- to create the penultimate white doo-
wop group (previous inductees Dion and
the Belmonts being the last word on the
subject.)

Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi com-
pleted the hit machine, which not only
wound up doing Dylan songs under the
name the Wonder Who, but also hung in
long enough to capitalize on the nostalgia
craze (1975’s “December 1963") before
Valli stepped out on a solo career for
good. '

The Seasons didn’t originate the
stratospheric vocal style, but as unoffi-
cial spokesmen for their East Coast
ethnic working.class audience, they were
its most successful exponents.

The Four Tops

The sixth Motown act inducted, the
Four Tops are perhaps most remarkable
for two things: the steehbelted vocal
cords of Levi Stubbs and having never
once changed personnel in 36 years - all
the more amazing, considering there are
no family ties that bind ’em.

Stubbs, Renaldo “Obie” Benson. Abdul
“Duke" Fakir and Lawrence Payton hung
In hitless for years until they signed with
Motown. There. working with writers-
producers Holland-Dozier-llolland. they
cut umpteen certiliable classics (“Reach
Out, I'll Be There," “Baby I Need Your
Loving") and two equally brilliant non-
HDH tunes (“Ask the Lonely” and “Lov-
ing You ls Sweeter Than Ever”). Splitting
shortly after the producers quit the
organization.

Unlike most acts that exited Motown,
they've had hits (1973's “Ain’t No Woman.
Like the One I’ve Got" and 1981’s “When
She Was My Girl") since, and currently

record for Arista Records.

The Kinks

Led by England’s poet laureate oi the
mundane and the working class (same
thing). singer-songwriter-guitarist Ray
Davies. the Kinks have long been the

' wittiest (“Waterloo Sunset”), most sensi-

tive (“Dead End Street”). most uncon-
ventional (“Village Green Preservation
Society”), most raucous of rollers.

The proto-metallic riff slinging began
with 1964’s “You Really Got Me,” but the
original lineup of Ray and lead guitarist-
little brother Dave Davies. bassist Pete
Quaife and drummer Mick Avory swiftly
set out on a roller-coaster career course
that spawned intermittent hits (“Lola,”
“Celluloid Heroes," “Come Dancing").
arguably the first “rock opera” (1969's
“Arthur" LP), and continues as a battling
brother act to this day.

The Platters

This Los Angeles-based quintet is
chiefly notable for being rock’s first big
R&B crossover act, moving into the
supper club circuit on the strength of
such mellow-dramatic ballads as “Twi-

light Time," “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”

and “My Prayer" and the titanic tenor
vocals of Tony Williams, which disguised
that the rest of the group (Zola Taylor,
Herb Reed. David Lynch, Paul Robi) was
pretty much window dressing.

After the hits tapered off, Williams
went solo and the resulting personnel and
personal problems relegated the group to
a lounge act status that was interrupted
only by a lesser string of sweet soul-
“beach music" favorites (“With This
Ring” being the best) in the mid-'6ils.
Since then it’s all been low comedy, with
the endless proliferation of acts working
under the Platters’ name giving rise to a
grand. if ignoble. rock 'n‘ roll tradition in
its own right.

Simon and Garfunkel

Back in '58 when these New Yorkers

were known as Tom 8: Jerry. they rocked
out in a sort of sub-Everly Brothers
manner on “Hey Little School Girl."
After solo efforts as Jerry Landis and
Artie Garr didn't make it, they reunited
as a serious folk duo.

Unsung hero-record producer Tom
Wilson (the Animals. the Velvet Under-
ground) added a iolk-rock backing to an
album track called “The Sounds of Si-
lence,” scored a smash and for five years.
the ultra-senstitive, overly wrought hits
(“Hazy Shade of Winter," “Mrs. Robin-
son.") just kept on comin’.

The breakup came in 1970. shortly
after their biggest hit (“Bridge Over
Troubled Water”). though there have
been two reunions since. Meanwhile,
Simon’s musical journey has mirrored
that of his collegiate audience, recently
winding up on the streets outside of
"Graceland." where he introduced Lady-

smith Black Msmbazo to an unsuspecting
world.

The Who

With Pete Townshend's windmill gul-
tar figures. Roger Daltrey's milte-tossing
routines, John Entwlstle’s free basslines
and a drummer (the late Keith Moon)
who redefined traditional notions of rock
timekeeping, the Who introduced a
hyper-kinetic, smash ’em up stage set
that was rivaled only by James Brown's
R&B passion plays. Toss in a bleeding
handful of brilliant. aloneoin-a-crowd
Townshend compositions (”My Genera-
tion," "The Kids Are Alright." “I Can See
for Miles") and you’ll begin to understand
just how far ahead of their contemporar-
ies these London mods really were.

By the time they made it really big
Stateside, they'd toned it down considera-
bly. Townshend had written the rock
opera “Tommy" and -— with the excep-
tion of the rock-solid “Who's Next" LP —
the weight of the themes essayed too-
often capsized the material's once-pow-
erful pop elements.

(Los Angeles Times/distributed by LA
Times-Washington Post News Service.)