lördag 30 april 2016

Dion and The Belmonts - Presenting "Dion and The Belmonts" (Great R/B, Doo Woop US 1959)

240:- (24-Bit Limited Remaster Edition. En verklig klassiker med många hitlåtar. Släppt av det japanska skivbolaget "Oldays Records" i en starkt begränsad upplaga.)

1959's Presenting Dion And The Belmonts is the seminal debut album from the Italian American doo-wop group who got their start singing on the street corners of the Bronx. Revealing a musical soul that transcended the limitations of teenage pop (and foreshadowing group leader Dion Di Mucci’s future solo career), the release features such immortal rock and roll hits as “I Wonder Why” and “Teenager in Love,” still among some of the best examples of white vocal R&B to come out of New York in the '50s.

Rock & roll albums were something of a novelty, if not a rarity, in 1959 -- apart from Elvis's releases, few of them sold well, and most that were out there by white artists, apart from hits compilations, didn't always reflect well on the music. The debut album by the Bronx-based doo wop group holds up well, however, and is well worth hearing beyond the hits "I Wonder Why," "Where or When," "Don't Pity Me," and "A Teenager in Love." 

Albumets Baksida
The predominant subject is girls, no surprise as the work of an R&B vocal group in 1959, but there's amazingly little feeling of repetition on these 14 cuts, partly because the producers and the group did vary the sound. There are surprisingly successful attempts at a mild country sound ("You Better Not Do That") as well as pop ("Just You") and an amazing blues ("I Got the Blues") that reveals some of the real depth behind Dion DiMucci even at this early stage of his career -- he may have looked and sounded like a teen idol on some of those records, but he had a musical soul all of his own that transcended the limitations of teen pop; it also goes a long way toward explaining why he was responsible for some of the best white rock & roll to come out of New York during this period. It may not be in a league with Elvis Presley's first three albums as essential listening, but it is all well played as well as beautifully sung, showing off a prodigious array of talent from the group on down to the session players involved.

Dion Francis DiMucci (born July 18, 1939), better known mononymously as Dion, is an American singer-songwriter whose work has incorporated elements of doo-wop, pop oldies music, rock and R&B styles—and, most recently, straight blues. He was one of the most popular American rock and roll performers of the pre-British Invasion era. He had more than a dozen Top 40 hits in the late 1950s and early 60s. He is best remembered for the 1961 singles, "Runaround Sue" and "The Wanderer", written with Ernie Maresca.

Dion's popularity waned in the mid-1960s, perhaps due to the public's changing taste in pop music, and perhaps in part due to personal difficulties he had during this period. But toward the end of the decade, he shifted his style and produced songs with a more mature, contemplative feeling, such as "Abraham, Martin and John". He became popular again in the late 1960s and into the mid-1970s, and he has continued making music ever since. Critics who had dismissed his early work, pegging him as merely a teen idol, praised his later work, and noted the influence he has had on other musicians.

Poster - Sunday, January 25, 1959
Dion was born to an Italian-American family in the Bronx, New York. As a child, he accompanied his father, Pasquale DiMucci, a vaudeville entertainer, on tour, and developed a love of country music – particularly the work of Hank Williams. He also developed a fondness for the blues and doo-wop musicians he heard performing in local bars and on the radio. His singing was honed on the street corners and local clubs of the Bronx, where he and other neighborhood singers created a cappella riffs.

In early 1957, he auditioned for Bob and Gene Schwartz, who had just formed Mohawk Records. They recorded Dion singing lead on a song which had been arranged by Hugo Montenegro and pre-recorded with everything but the lead vocals. The backing vocals were by a group called "The Timberlanes", whom Dion had never met. The resulting single, "The Chosen Few", was released under the name, Dion and the Timberlanes, and became a minor regional hit. Writing about this experience later, in his autobiography, The Wanderer, Dion said that that he had never met the Timberlanes and didn't even know who they were. "The vocal group was so white bread, I went back to my neighborhood and I recruited a bunch of guys --three guys-- and we called ourselves Dion and the Belmonts."

Bob and Gene Schwartz also signed Dion's friends, the Belmonts, (Carlo Mastrangelo, Fred Milano, and Angelo D'Aleo), a vocal group named for nearby Belmont Avenue, and teamed them, with Dion singing lead. The new group's breakthrough came in early 1958, when "I Wonder Why" (on their newly formed "Laurie" label) made No. 22 on the U.S. charts. Dion said of the Belmonts; "I'd give 'em sounds. I'd give 'em parts and stuff. That's what 'I Wonder Why' was about. We kind of invented this percussive rhythmic sound. If you listen to that song, everybody was doing something different. There's four guys, one guy was doing bass, I was singing lead, one guy's going 'ooh wah ooh', and another guy's doing tenor. It was totally amazing. When I listen to it today, often times I think, 'Man, those kids are talented.'"

Their initial hit was followed by "No One Knows" and "Don't Pity Me", which also charted the Billboard Top 100. This success won Dion and the Belmonts a place on the tragic "The Winter Dance Party" tour with Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson) and other performers. On February 2, 1959, after a concert stop in Clear Lake, Iowa, Holly and others decided to take a flight to the next venue rather than travel on the tour bus. Dion was invited to accompany the group but decided that he did not want to spend $36 for the flight, as it was the same monthly rent his parents paid for his childhood apartment and he couldn't justify the indulgence. The plane crashed, killing all on board; Holly, Valens, Richardson, and the pilot Roger Peterson. Dion and the Belmonts continued on the tour, while Bobby Vee, then an unknown artist, performed in Holly’s place at the very next concert. Later, Jimmy Clanton, Frankie Avalon, and Fabian were added to replace the other now-deceased headliners.

Dion and the Belmonts' next single, "A Teenager in Love", was released in March 1959, eventually hitting No. 5 on the U.S. pop charts and No. 28 in the UK. The trio's biggest hit, "Where or When", was released in November of that year, and reached No. 3 on the U.S. charts. However, in early 1960, Dion checked into hospital for heroin addiction, a problem he had had since his mid-teens. Further single releases for the group that year were less successful. There were musical, personal and financial differences between Dion and members of the Belmonts, and in October 1960, Dion decided to quit for a solo career. By the time of their breakup, all eight Laurie releases had charted on the Hot 100.

01. I Wonder Why  2:20
02. Teen Angel  2:37
03. Where Or When  2:31
04. You Better Not Do That  2:31
05. Just You  2:45
06. I Got The Blues  2:45
07. Don’t Pity Me  2:36
08. A Teenager In Love  2:37
09. Wonderful Girl  2:13
10. A Funny Feeling  2:13
11. I’ve Cried Before  2:48
12. That’s My Desire  2:31
13. No One Knows  2:36