Sunday, 12 April 2009

Triple Dose of Dion

Today's post is a tribute to one of my all time heroes, Dion. Best known for his early hits like "The Wanderer" and "Runaround Sue", he is - possibly uniquely - still making good records after more than 50 years.

I did think of saving this for his 70th birthday in July but then it occurred to me that: (a) that would require rather more planning than I'm capable of; (b) I can always post some more stuff on the day itself if we aren't all bored with 27 Leggies by then; and (c) thinking it matters suggests I am beginning to take my self-appointed role as taste-maker to the world rather too seriously [Note: one of the signs that people are taking themselves too seriously is when they start talking about themselves in the third person. Let me assure you now that Ernie Goggins will never do that.]

I can't really do justice to Dion's career, but a brief potted history reads something like:
  • doo-wop with the Belmonts, releasing their first record in 1957. Already a heroin addict by this point;
  • toured with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper but decided not to get that plane;
  • went solo in 1960 and had a few years of pop success;
  • showed first signs of musical adventurousness by releasing a blues album in 1964, before things start to stall;
  • gets clean and returns as a folkie in 1968 with the first recording of "Abraham, Martin & John", following this up with a series of excellent records through to the early 1970s;
  • releases the Phil Spector-produced "Born to be with you" album in 1975;
  • releases a series of Christian albums in the early 1980s;
  • has a bit of a mainstream comeback with the excellent "Yo Frankie" in 1989, the same year in which he was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame;
  • a bit of a gap until "Deja Nu" in 2000, and then a series of blues albums in recent years.
Here are three songs from different stages of his career:
  • "I Was Born To Cry", a minor US hit in 1962;
  • "Gotta Get Up" from 1971's "Sanctuary" LP; and
  • coming right up to date, "The Thunderer" from 2007's "Son Of Skip James" LP

If that whets your appetite there is an excellent 3-CD boxed set called "King Of The New York Streets", although I'm not sure if it is still available except through the likes of E-Bay. In addition most of his 1970s albums have been reissued in "two LPs on one CD" format by Ace Records. There is also an excellent DVD of the Great Man doing the hits and more live in Atlantic City in 2004.

Here he is in 1990 doing "The Wanderer", backed by Dave Edmunds and band. Fantastic.

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