Liner Note Author: Ed Osborne.
This two-disc set, which collects all of the singles, both A and B sides, that Dion released as a solo artist during his two stays at Laurie Records, does a good job of showing Dion's own restless instincts as a singer and musician, instincts that have served him well during his five-decade career, and his supplementary willingness to listen to his record label's wishes at the same time, a balancing act that gave Dion three distinct commercial phases on the pop charts from the late '50s through the end of the 1960s. He began as the lead voice for the Bronx Italian street corner doo wop group the Belmonts, producing hits for Laurie Records like "I Wonder Why" (none of Dion's Belmonts-era singles are included here) before going solo in 1960, the point where this collection picks up the story. His solo work for Laurie cast him as a teen idol, and he scored hits with the likes of "Lonely Teenager," "Runaround Sue," "The Wanderer," and "Little Diane" before leaving the label to sign with Columbia Records late in 1962. His hits with Columbia ("Ruby Baby" and "Donna the Prima Donna") continued in the teen idol vein, but by the time Dion returned to Laurie Records for a second go-round in 1968, his sound and style had changed into a kind of pop-oriented folk-rock, which gave him a Top Five hit that same year with "Abraham, Martin and John," and led to interesting near-misses with his covers of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now," Fred Neil's "The Dolphins," and a barely recognizable version of Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze." Amazingly, the two distinct phases of his time with Laurie Records as a solo artist have never been released side by side like this before, so this set from Real Gone Music fills a huge hole. Everything is in mono, the way the singles were mixed and originally appeared. If there is even one small complaint about this collection, it would have to be that room couldn't be found for Dion's singles with the Belmonts. ~ Steve Leggett