Having quit the Belmonts in late 1960, Dion DiMucci enjoyed a
string of solo hits on Laurie, including the million-selling
'Runaround Sue', and two Top 20 albums before signing to
Columbia Records in late '62. By now a major star, Dion's arrival at
the label heralded a significant sea change; then-A&R
director/producer Mitch Miller's dislike of rock'n'roll was no secret
while Dion himself was eager to break away from the irksome "teen
idol" tag at odds with his own musical inclinations.
Dion's first Columbia single, a bluesy cover of Leiber & Stoller's
'Ruby Baby', peaked at #2 and spawned the first of two LPs
released in 1963. With Robert Mersey producing, the album was a
broad mix of American standards ('You Made Me Love You'),
covers of newly minted Pop hits ('The End Of The World') and
original material in a tear-jerky vein no doubt chosen to appeal both
to teens and the young at heart. Released in March '63 "Ruby
Baby" became his third Top 20 album.
By contrast its follow-up, "Donna The Prima Donna" (November
1963), fared less well, yet was arguably more Dion's bag.
Capitalising on a recent regional doo wop revival, alongside the
self-penned title hit (#6), it included two Cleftones' songs, Goffin &
King's 'This Little Girl' (#21) and a cover of 'Be Careful Of The
Stones You Throw' (#31), a composition Dion had heard as a
youngster by way of Hank Williams' Luke the Drifter recordings.
Paradoxically, with every hit single Columbia appeared to grow
more uneasy, perhaps because their desire to mould Dion into an
MOR act for the supper club set seemed ever less likely.
Increasingly disillusioned and eschewing the British Invasion, Dion
turned his attention towards folk and blues. After a fallow spell
during which he bought himself out of his Columbia contract, Dion
developed a more contemplative style, eventually returning to the
US Top 5 with 'Abraham, Martin And John' in 1968.
Presented in glorious stereo, "Ruby Baby" and "Donna The Prima
Donna" make their CD debut here, reinvigorating Ace's acclaimed
series of Dion DiMucci 2-on-1 album reissues after more than a
decade. Memorabilia-laden package includes informative liner
notes and a detailed sessionography.