Monday, April 10, 2006


Dion got the blues

Best known for early rock & roll platters like "A Teenager in Love," "Runaround Sue" and "The Wanderer," Dion DiMuci has pretty much dropped off the music-industry planet over the years. His last hit was the plaintive "Abraham, Martin and John" in 1968. A junkie and alcoholic, Dion kicked drugs and booze and found God. He recorded gospel albums for years, never wanting to go the crooner route like Tony Bennett and Robert Goulet, the Bronx-born singer told me in 1989, the year he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "I was into Dylan, Clapton, Seger, Springsteen, U2, John Hiatt," he confided.

But Dion's roots go a lot deeper than rock. A blues aficionado, he covered "Spoonful" and "The Seventh Son" back in 1965. Now he's recorded an entire album of blues songs, titled Bronx in Blue. It's a revelation.

Unadorned by accompaniment other than subtle drums and percussion (courtesy of Bob Guertin), Dion practically goes it alone - just his compelling, unmistakable voice and some solid guitar picking. A little more than a quarter of the tunes are homages to Mississippi minstrel Robert Johnson ("Crossroads," "Walking Blues"). The rest of the album is devoted to the works of Dixon, Lightnin' Hopkins, Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Rogers, Hank Williams, Blind Willie McTell and Jimmy Reed.

Probably the most heartfelt of all the songs is Hopkins' "You Better Watch Yourself," which cautions, "You better stop drinkin' that wine, sonny boy/ You better stop using those drugs, sonny boy." Dion did!

The cool New York indie label Razor & Tie has picked up distribution of this cd, which was originally released by The Orchard in Janaury. For more info on Razor & Tie: CLICK HERE

For Dion's website: CLICK HERE

I also recommend Dion's Bronx Blues: The Columbia Recordings (1962-1965): CLICK HERE

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