Bronx in Blue
(Razor & Tie)
First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2006, Volume 13, #5
Written by John Metzger
Given his initial success, both with The Belmonts (I Wonder Why; Teenager in Love) as well as on his own (The Wanderer; Runaround Sue), Dion DiMucci forever will be linked to the doo-wop and early rock movements of the late ’50s and early ’60s. After all, these songs formed the soundtrack for a generation and earned the former teen idol an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Nevertheless, this is but one facet of his career, which now stretches to nearly 50 years in length, and while his emphasis has shifted from the contemplative folk of Abraham, Martin and John to a string of gospel recordings, it’s the blues of his youth to which he privately has clung.
With this in mind, Dion’s latest endeavor Bronx in Blue isn’t nearly as improbable as it first appears to be. Although many of the songs that he opted to interpret for the set are oft-played and, hence, overly familiar, his obvious affinity for the material saves the outing from dipping into cliché. With just a modicum of percussion supporting his otherwise solo acoustic performance, Dion keeps warhorses like Blind Willie McTell’s Statesboro Blues; Robert Johnson’s Crossroads; Jimmy Reed’s Baby, What You Want Me to Do; Howlin’ Wolf’s Built for Comfort; and Hank Williams’ Honky Tonk Blues sounding remarkably fresh and vibrant. His voice remains a potent force that lends a gritty intimacy to the affair, and throughout the collection, his acoustic guitar skills are surprisingly effective. In fact, although Bronx in Blue isn’t likely to place Dion back on top of the pop charts, it does provide him with a solid foundation upon which to reinvent himself once again. ½
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box