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Dion: Ruby Baby

Album Notes

Dion's stint at Columbia Records between 1962 and 1966 has been justly hailed as a period in which he grew substantially as an artist, especially when he dug into more mature material and earthier, bluesier influences. It must also be pointed out, however, that he also recorded some tracks that were substantially less impressive and progressive, especially at the start of his stint with the company. Ruby Baby, his first Columbia album, was actually not all that different from the typical LP of a talented teen idol of the time in its unsatisfactory mix of approaches, apparently aimed at helping establish the singer's all-around entertainer credentials. The title track was his first, and one of his best and gutsiest, hit singles, yet oddly little else on the record was as forceful or even too similar. Instead there were unnecessary covers of a couple contemporary hits, "The End of the World" and "Go Away Little Girl," and vaguely jazzy/pop standard-ish numbers that indicated there were hopes to cross Dion over into Bobby Darin territory. "The Loneliest Man in the World" and "He'll Only Hurt You," a little weirdly, sound a bit like Roy Orbison imitations. "Ruby Baby" aside, only on the relatively tough "Gonna Make It Alone" and the softer, more doo wop-flavored "Will Love Ever Come My Way" did the kind of Dion heard on his early-'60s rock hits emerge. ~ Richie Unterberger



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