Pros: Dion singing his hits live is just fantastic; great backup band also
Cons: Some good, but not great, songs are included
This DVD is a concert by Dion and his band recorded live at the Tropicana in Atlantic City in 2004. It has all of his great hits and he talks a lot between songs and sings (sometimes just him not on stage). The live concert on the stage is clearly the highlight of this concert.
Dion DiMucci, better known as Dion, was born July 18, 1939 in the Bronx, New York. He was a singer and songwriter whose career began in popular music in the 1950s with his group known as "Dion & the Belmonts." The Belmonts were named for a neighborhood street - Belmont Avenue.
Dion went solo in the early 1960s and continued to have hits with songs like "Runaround Sue," "The Wanderer," and "Ruby Baby" until 1964, when changing public tastes and heroin addiction caused him to enter a commercial decline. After getting clean from drug use, he switched to protest songs in the late 1960s; his best-known song as a soloist, "Abraham, Martin & John," was a response to the 1968 assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy.
While with the Belmonts, Dion's first hit was "I Wonder Why" in 1957 and for the next two years the group earned a reputation not only for topping the charts but for creating some of the most vital and exciting doo-wop music on the American scene. With songs such as "A Teenager In Love" and "Where or When," Dion & the Belmonts earned their place in the history books.
Dion & the Belmonts were a national sensation. They toured extensively and were co-headliners on the star-crossed Dance Party Tour in February 1959, the tour that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper) near Clear Lake, Iowa. Dion talks about this in great detail on this DVD. Dion was, in fact, scheduled to fly in the fateful plane that went down "the day the music died." He decided, that day, to take the bus - he didn't want to pay the $36 each for chartering a plane. He said that the number 36 reminded him of his parents needing $36 to pay the rent money and that number always stuck with him. His intuition actually saved his life.
The vitality of Dion's music lived on when he, venturing out as a solo artist in 1960, racked up a string of #1 hits that many still consider to be the best of that, or any other era. Dion cut one quintessential rock classic after another, from the rocker "Runaround Sue" to the driving "Lovers Who Wander" to the anthemic "The Wanderer" - it was an unparalleled musical feat that elevated him to the top ranks of recording artists. As the first rock and roll artist ever signed to Columbia Records, he continued his streak with such smashes as "Ruby Baby," "Donna the Prima Donna" and "Drip Drop."
An interesting fact is that Ernie Maresca, who wrote several songs for Dion, co-wrote "Runaround Sue" about his current girlfriend who eventually married Dion.
Dion was inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on January 18, 1989.
This live Tropicana concert DVD is really fabulous. His backup band is amazing also. My favorite songs by Dion in this concert are (listing my favorites first): 1) Runaround Sue, 2) Donna the Prima Donna, 3) A Teenager in Love, 4) The Wanderer, 5) Ruby Baby (there is also a short clip of him singing this when he was much younger), 6) I Wonder Why, 7) Love Came to Me, 8) Drip Drop, 9) Abraham, Martin and John, 10) King of the New York Streets, 11) Amazing Grace, 12) Ride With You, 13) I Let My Baby Do That, 14) Blue Monday, 15) Walkin' Blues, and 16) The Truth Will Set You Free. I absolutely "love" the first 9 of these songs.
There are some bonus features such as a few more songs in a segment called "One on One with Dion." My favorites there were "Who Do You Love" (a Bo Diddley song) and Dion's original performance on American Bandstand of "Ruby Baby" (which looks like a lip sync).
There is another bonus feature called "Dion's Gallery" which has a photo gallery of him and also some celebrity testimonials.
One of the best of the testimonials was given by Lou Reed at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction of Dion. He said: It was 1958..... "And then there was Dion - that great opening to 'I Wonder Why' engraved in my skull forever. Dion, whose voice was unlike any other I had heard before. Dion could do all the turns, stretch those syllables so effortlessly, soar so high he could reach the sky and dance there among the stars forever. What a voice that had absorbed and transmagnified all these influences into his own soul, as the wine turns into blood, a voice that stood on its own, remarkably and unmistakenly from New York. Bronx Soul. It was the kind of voice you never forget. Over the years that voice has stayed with me, as it has, I'm sure, stayed with you. And whenever I hear it I'm flooded with memories of what once was and what could be.....". "After all, who could be hipper than Dion?"
Paul Simon said: "I've been a fan of Dion since I was a teenager. He is one of the great voices of New York Rock & Roll."
Waylon Jennings said: "The pop and rock music of the day owes a lot to Dion. About every other record, you hear on the radio today, you can hear his influence. What most people don't know is that he is a closet hillbilly. We went through some good and bad times in a short time and we are friends forever!"
So, in closing, just let me say that this live concert by Dion is very, very good. His hits are amazing!! It is just a fun, feel-good concert!!