In 1066 some Norman guy called William The Conqueror landed in England, decided he liked it, had a quick battle, then put his feet up with a cuppa. Obviously this is a rather simplified version of events, but as every British schoolboy knows, this was to be the last great invasion of Britain.
Never again would England's sandy shores succumb to dastardly distant despots. Ringed by white cliffs and impenetrable little waterways, this tiny island was a fortress. The Spanish Armada wrecked and floundered off our coastlines. Hitler clenched his fist as his mighty armies dipped their toes in the channel and decided it was too cold. Long live Britannia, for Britannia rules the waves.
In the 1960’s, Britannia ruled the airwaves too. In 1964 we shipped The Beatles off to America, who promptly went utterly bananas for them. The British invasion was born. Nowadays the term musical invasion is bandied about a lot now.
Whether it be the next sincerely middle-class well-educated now potty-mouthed misogynistic American rap sensation hurtling over the Atlantic to demand us to ‘get loose on the floor’, or yet another four-man-guitar-band going over there to spread that ‘pioneering new sound’, it;s branded an invasion. Can woeful music, fleeting success and diminutive sales really justify the term?
If so, I demand we resist. A bit like the Americans did in 1964. As the floppy-haired ‘Fab Four’ threatened to seduce America back into a set of colonies, the secret revolution of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons was already in action. Four guys from poverty-ridden New Jersey hit back with some of the greatest pop songs the world has ever seen, led by one of the leading voices of all time. It almost defines the American Dream.
Perfect falsetto vocals and glorious harmonies, razor sharp suits and coiffed hair, effortless co-ordination and some of the greatest songs ever written - 'Sherry', 'Can’t Take My Eyes Off You', 'Walk Like A Man', 'Beggin’', 'Big Girls Don’t Cry'. It wasn’t enough. The Beatles held the billboards and charts in an iron fist. But if I had to name my favourite of the two, Frankie and those Seasons just about edge it.
They encapsulate everything great about American music – soul, doo-wop, melody, blues and irresistible confidence, and blend it to create something entirely inimitable - the perfect little resistance movement. So when I found a two album set of the 'Greatest Hits' of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons in perfect condition in a junk sale in a seaside town near Newcastle, I couldn’t say no, and not just because I managed to knock a fiver off the price.
Four sides of sincere music, deep with romance and joy and conviction - utterly timeless, totally encapsulating. I urge you to find a copy and witness a true revolution.
The 'Greatest Hits' double vinyl is available to purchase at Amazon.co.uk. Geraint Ellis runs the Midweek Mixtape blog/radio show.