Reviewed by Paul Poulton
Sometimes an album comes along that is complete, an organic whole, each track moving on from the next, like dominoes in line. If the young man who sang "A Teenager In Love" is still making meaningful music at the age of 68, it tells us there is some kind of acuity at play. If you know a little about the blues you will know most of these songs. Chuck Berry's "Nadine" kicks the set off, Dion's version is as vital today as it was when Chuck first released it. It resists the move to the fourth chord in the verse making it very much today's music. The same is true of all the tracks, they fit into 2008 like a hand in a glove. No long lead breaks, Dion's superb acoustic guitar licks remain economic throughout. The percussive effect of the guitar strings drives the songs along in a sublime way and adds to the fatness of the drums. Rick Krives's premium piano parts make up the trio. It may come as a surprise to some folks that the blues is quite a spiritual genre. In "Hoodoo Man Blues" the whole song is addressed to the Lord, somebody hoodooed the Hoodoo man. Willie Dixon's "Hoochie Coochie Man" deals with prophecy, albeit the seer being a gypsy woman. Dion manages to tie all this in within his Catholicism along with telling us, he's a lover not a fighter but he could still kick our ass. Okay, fair enough, Dion has something to say and he's saying it. Rolling Stone magazine comes in for a bit of a kicking too, but Bob Dylan, (whose funny song "Baby I'm In The Mood For You" is on here), gets one of his songs endorsed by Pope John Paul in a short dialogue retold by Dion. In the compelling title track Dion tells us he is the son of Skip James. I don't think that Dion is really the son of Skip James, Delta blues giant Skip sang the blues in his high ethereal, helium-induced, spacey kind of way, (the only person I've ever heard come close to replicating it is Alan Wilson from Canned Heat) whereas Dion moans like a milk-cow with a full udder. And just to clear up any confusion Dion DiMucci is of Italian descent and the late, great Skip was, of course, black. But we understand what Dion is telling us - the spirit in the blues singer is also in DiMucci, or maybe I should say Spirit. This album has captured something special, it's in touch with the dirt, it springs from the earth but it reaches up to Heaven.
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