Here are ten explosive, lesser known but terrific cuts from the underrated, overlooked blues master known simply as Dion.

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Dion DiMucci (known simply as Dion) may have started as a doo-wop singer in the Bronx back in the late 1950s but he has gone through more metamorphoses than a creature out of Kafka. He’s a full-fledged blues man now with a Grammy blues album nomination to his credit, but a thorough listen to his considerable catalogue lends credence to Dion’s own statement that he loved the blues from his earliest days. In fact, he used to play blues numbers in sound checks for his pop concerts, and when Stevie Van Zandt (guitarist for Springsteen) heard him, he said “man you gotta make a blues album.”

Dion has made three of those blues albums (Bronx in Blue, 2006; Son of Skip James, 2007 and the mighty Tankful of Blues, 2011) and they’ve been well received. But you really need to listen to the man throughout the decades to appreciate the full measure of his blues talent: for me he is and always been one of the greatest voices in all of music, and one of the greatest stylists: pop, rock, folk, blues, Dion has the chops to deliver it all. Even in his early records, he always managed to sneak in or two total surprises that revealed his love for Robert Johnson, Hank Williams, Willie Dixon and Skip James.

Dion turned 77 this year (both July 18, 1939), and is still active, still a potent vocalist and guitarist on stage. If you ever get a chance to see him, you’ll never forget it. He is one of the artists from the 50s (other than Chuck Berry, still powerful at 90) who has never stopped recording, writing, playing and performing. His output has been of an outrageously high quality since the first day he stepped into a recording studio. His peers are long gone: Elvis, Gene Pitney, Roy Orbison, Del Shannon. Dion goes on, a force of nature who served as the model for a dozen top artists, including Lou Reed, Paul Simon, Robert Palmer and more; in fact, anyone who ever got a group together and copped an attitude owes something to Dion. He’s the original Wanderer, long since recovered from his addictions and thoroughly steeped in black music.

Here are ten masterful songs that could just have easily numbered 25 or so. This man has never made anything but great records.
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New York is My Home (with Paul Simon) 2015

It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue from the album Wonder Where I’m Bound, 1969

900 Miles from the album Wonder Where I’m Bound, 1969

Born To Be With You from the album Born To Be With You, 1975, produced by Phil Spector

Drip Drop, single, 1963

King of the New York Streets, from the album Yo Frankie, 1989, produced by Dave Edmunds

Spoonful, from the album Bronx Blues: The Columbia Recordings (1962-1965) released 1991

The Thunderer, from the album Son of Skip James, 2007

Ride’s Blues (for Robert Johnson) from the album Tankful of Blues, 2011

Your Own Back Yard from the album Born To Be With You, produced by Phil Spector, 1975

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RELATED LINKS

Feature Article: ‘Drip Drop’

Album Review: A Tankful of Blues

Dion’s Lost Masterpiece Wonder Where I’m Bound
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