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Sunday, January 8, 2006

Goin' back

Remember Dion? How could we forget? This guy had a remarkable career in the pop-rock spotlight, with hits like "The Wanderer," "Runaround Sue," and "Ruby Baby." When doo-wop faded, he gave us all an outlet for our grief in "Abraham, Martin and John." Great music, straight out of the Bronx.

No, this isn't another music legend obituary. Dion's alive and well and still going with Florida as his base. On Tuesday he'll be in New York releasing an unplugged album of pure country and blues -- stuff like Hank Williams and Robert Johnson, artists that Dion listened to as a kid, from wayback. This time around, we're told, it's just Dion, playing a couple of guitars, and a low-key drummer.

Good for him. I can't wait to hear it.

If you didn't catch it, there was an eye-opening interview with Dion (whose last name is DiMucci) in the Times last week. Here's a snippet:

While his 1963 recordings of blues songs like "Spoonful" and "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man" made him one of the first white rockers to tackle the music, Columbia pushed him to develop a nightclub act -- with a result that the same albums also featured Bobby Darin-type arrangements of standards. "They used to say, 'You've got to do some legitimate music,' which implied that what I liked was illegitimate," Dion said. "That was when I really started freaking out. Aretha Franklin was there at the same time, and they had her doing Al Jolson songs. They didn't know what to do with us."
(There's another nice story from the Newark paper here, but like all Velveeta in the Advance web sphere, it will soon disappear from the planet.)

Yo, Dion -- rock on.

Comments (3)

I’ve always admired “Runaround Sue” as a rhythmic bridge between Swing and Rock and Roll. A song like “In the Mood” isn’t too far off rhythmically from Dion’s rock and roll tune. Think of “Runaround Sue” and imagine a walking Swing bass line. The groove was passed to another generation.

I have his CD "New Masters" (among others), but it is a MUST BUY. A couple years ago, he went into a studio with some musicians and background guys and did his old tunes. The guy has got to be in his mid sixties, and his voice sounds like it did when he was twenty. Some of the old tunes have been spiffed up a bit, mostly for the better. In "I Wonder Why," pay attention to the guy singing bass. Unlike the original version, on the New Master, the bass guy keeps singing through the "Wop, Wop, Wop ... etc." breaks. It'll make your brains fall out.

The guy is amazing.

Dion was great. I only wish he could have stayed in the game more in the mid-1960s. After all, the Four Seasons did. Then, when "Abraham, Martin and John" came out, I was shocked that he had made such a transition. It was almost a "sort of statement" that he was there for us through so much turmoil. Like The Beatles song "Revolution," I think a lot of people thought more of it than just music.

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