Liner Note Author: Joe Marchese.
An L.A. studio giant, Bob Crewe is primarily remembered as the producer/songwriter behind a bevy of soft pop songs in the '60s and '70s for such artists as the Four Seasons, the Osmonds, and others. Along with partners Bob Gaudio and, later, Kenny Nolan, Crewe co-penned/and or produced such hits as Labelle's "Lady Marmalade," the Walker Brothers' "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore)," and the Four Seasons' "Big Girls Don't Cry" and "Walk Like a Man," among many more. In fact, Crewe was so closely associated with the Four Seasons, he was often referred to by members as "the Fifth Season." Similar to their own vocalist Frankie Valli, Crewe was blessed with a wide tenor vocal range and a charismatic style that found him appearing on records himself throughout his career, most prominently with his vocal ensemble the Bob Crewe Generation. Released in 2015, the Real Gone two-disc anthology The Complete Elektra Recordings brings together two albums that Crewe recorded as a solo artist for Elektra in the late '70s, 1976's Street Talk and 1977's Motivation. With its post-sexual revolution, "me era" themes, Street Talk is a funky disco record full of cheeky sexual innuendo ("Cherry Boy" and "Ah Men!") and propulsive dancefloor beats. A discreet yet confident gay pop icon, Crewe brings a knowing wryness and fun sense of irony to the album's saucy double-entendre atmosphere, whether it's his flamboyantly romantic vocal on "Time for You and Me" or the way he prefigures house music, layering Latin rhythms over a disco pulse on "Menage a Trois." Without a doubt, Crewe's skills as a vocalist and pop production innovator are in abundance throughout Street Talk. Conversely, on his follow-up, Motivation, he eschewed any dancefloor camp in favor of an earnest and intimate singer/songwriter effort. While it didn't make as much of a splash on the charts at the time of its release, Motivation is an impeccably crafted production featuring yearning orchestral and organ-steeped ballads ("Lady Love Song"), uplifting gospel-infused anthems ("Give It Hell"), and harmony-laden odes to fidelity ("Marriage Made in Heaven"). Ultimately, by presenting Street Talk and Motivation side by side, The Complete Elektra Recordings works as heartfelt showcase for Crewe's crystalline, resonant vocal abilities, melodic songwriting skills, and sophisticated production style. ~ Matt Collar