Reviewed by Trevor Kirk
IN THE MAINSTREAM
Lovingly remastered in their entirety onto CD for the first time, two landmarks in the career of one of the icons of pop music, Dion DiMucci, the boy from the Bronx. These albums date from 1971 and 1972, after Dion's deliverance from drug dependency but before his Christian conversion. The titles of the albums speak volumes, for this is good time, feel great music, without the cool doo wop quality of his early material, nor yet the street-wise rock'n'roll swagger that made "Runaround Sue" and "The Wanderer" such mega-hits. Having said that, "The Wanderer" appears on 'Sanctuary', but in a gorgeously laid back, off-the-cuff, impromptu studio one-take, 12 bar bluesy version, with Dion wheezing and whining his way through the familiar lyrics like a good ol' boy. Another familiar song is "Abraham, Martin & John", a huge hit for Dion in the USA, here in a live cut from a gig at The Bitter End Club in New York City, along with another Bitter End cut, the old Drifters doowop classic "Ruby Baby" Dion hit with for Columbia. By 1972, the singer had teamed up with poet and lyricist Bill Touhy, and 'Suite For Late Summer' is some of Dion's most reflective, mellow and serene pre-Christian material, for example, "Running Close Behind You", which appears in two versions, the original 1972 acoustic version, and a 1975 recording with electric guitars and drums, "Traveller In The Rain" and "Soft Parade Of Years". Deservedly inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame in 1989, Dion's contribution to pop music down the years is immense. With hindsight, it's easy to see these albums as a step along the road towards his Christian conversion. Timeless music indeed.
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