Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dion "The Complete Laurie Singles a Review Pt 4

Part Four, The Wanderer returns:

The last eight songs on this set are from 1968 and 1969 when Dion would make a return stop home to Laurie Records. This also marks the beginning of what refer to as Dion’s Acoustic Years. This is a period that is often overlooked in the illustrious career of Mr. DiMucci.

I begin with a TRUE CLASSIC from the period, “Abraham, Martin and John.” Released in the fall of 1968, it peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and would remain on the charts for 14 weeks. The single was issued in MONO; I mention that because STEREO 45’s were beginning to show up by that time on infrequent occasions but this would change by the next year. On this set, the sound quality is outstanding. That warm sound heard on the rest of the songs carries over from the familiar beginning of this goodie. You hear the harp, strings, horns and the nylon string guitar of Dion, all blended together. My favorite part of the song is the Hammond organ break after verse two and it sounds absolutely beautiful on this CD.

I remember back in the day, flipping this 45 over and hearing “Daddy Rollin’ (In Your Arms,)” a blues tune that just rocks out on this CD. I must point out that the other version of this song I have on CD was also in MONO, but it didn’t sound this full and rich. This song is not unlike a lot of the material Dion recorded on Columbia from 1964 until he left to return to Laurie in ’68. Most of these songs would go unnoticed until years later when Columbia would release “The Road I’m On,” a two disc set of many of Dion’s Columbia sides.

The next single Laurie would release was the Jimmy Hendrix classic “Purple Haze,” which did hit the Hot 100 and peak at #63. The song sounds as good as it gets. If you’re not familiar with Dion’s rendition of this Psychedelic standard, it sounds like Dion meeting Jose Feliciano and jamming together with a lot of flutes and strings in the background. It’s actually kind of an interesting take on the song. 

The B-side of this 45 is “The Dolphin.” This song would have fit in most of the albums Dion would record on Warner Brothers during the 70’s. This is a wonderful song written by Fred Neil; the harp really rings out over the acoustic guitar, bass, strings and the smooth Dion vocals. Many believe this song should have been the A-side of this record. After listening to it several times since I obtained this set, I agree.

The next single, issued by Laurie in 1969, is Joni Mitchell’s “From Both Sides Now,” as it was issued on the label. This one barely hit the Hot 100 at #91. I’ve always remembered the song as “Both Sides Now.” Dion does a good job interpreting this song with the harp, strings, and acoustic guitar arrangement similar to “The Dolphin.” That warm, full sound rings out clear as a bell. This was Dion’s last chart hit for Laurie.

The B-side of this 45 is “Sun Fun Song.” This is one of the few songs on this collection that I had not heard until now. It’s a nice little tune written by Dion. Again the arrangement is as the previous two songs and it sure sounds good. This one’s got a cool instrumental break that reminds me a bit of “Penny Lane.”

The last Dion single on Laurie is a version of the Four Tops “Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever,” co written by Stevie Wonder. Again this sounds like something Jose Feliciano might have recorded only with Dion singing lead. It’s a good song as should have had some chart action, but it did not.

The flip side of this one is “He Looks A Lot Like Me,” a Viet Nam era song written by Dion. There’s some good guitar work in that great Dion style and again it sounds great.
This is one of the other songs I was not familiar with and I’m sorry I never heard this one before; it’s very good.

All of these eight songs appeared on an album entitled “Dion,” released by Laurie after the success of “Abraham, Martin and John.”

As I said earlier, they need to do this with Dion’s Columbia singles and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to see collections like this from other artists and groups from this era. There are MONO collections of The Beach Boys and The Beatles, if you can afford the Beatles MONO Box set. There have been MONO sets from many Motown artists as well. There should be similar collections from The Mamas and Papas, The Buckinghams, Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Four Seasons and Jan and Dean, to name a few.

The bottom line about this OUTSTANDING collection is if you like the sounds of the ‘60’s BUY THIS SET; if you’re a fan of Dion, BUY THIS SET, even if you have all the other Dion CD collections; and most of all, if you want to hear this music that way it sounded back in the day on those old 45’s, in GLORIOUS MONO, then by all means BUY THIS SET!  You will NOT be disappointed at all.

A footnote to this review:

I have learned the Jan and Dean Complete Liberty Singles set along with sets from Gary Lewis and the Playboys and Paul Revere and the Raiders from Collectors Choice Music, were issued in MONO! I guess I'm going to have to get copies of those sets as well.


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