Dion DiMucci will probably always be remembered for his series of hits, with and without the Belmonts, during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Songs such as “The Wanderer,” “A Teenager In Love,” “Lovers Who Wander,” “Ruby Baby,” “Donna The Prima Donna,” and the number one “Runaround Sue” were some of the best and catchiest tunes of the pre-Beatles era. As with many artists, the hits came to a halt with the advent of the British Invasion.
The second part of his career began when his late 1968 release, “Abraham, Martin And John” became a huge hit single. During the course of the next seven years, he would release five albums for the Warner Brothers label that were simplistic and folk oriented.
His third album for the label, Sanctuary, contained three live tracks from a 1971 performance at the Bitter End Club in New York City. The rest of that live set sat in the vaults until now as the complete concert has finally been released.
This is not the Dion of the early phase of his career. He accompanies himself with just his guitar. The song selection is from the folk songbook of the day. The music ranges from straight folk to a real bluesy feel. His covers run the gamut from Bob Dylan’s “One Too Many Mornings” to the Beatles “Blackbird,” to Lightning Hopkins “Drinkin’ That Wine” to Leonard Cohen’s “Sisters Of Mercy.” He even reaches back into his past for acoustic versions of “Ruby Baby” and “The Wanderer.”
It all adds up to a gentle, if somewhat dated approach. The emphasis is on the lyrics. In some ways his voice is a little to smooth for a folk artist but it was a wonderful instrument back in the early 1970’s.
Recorded Live At The Bitter End August 1971 is a nice trip back in time to a far different era. It presents an artist making a career change toward music that mattered at the time.