Monday, 16 February 2009

Dion – Heroes – Giants of Early Rock Guitar

Tracklist: Summertime Blues, Come On, Let's Go, Rave On, Believe What You Say, Bye Bye Love, Be-Bop-A-Lula, Runaway, Jailhouse Rock, I Walk The Line, Blue Suede Shoes, Who Do You Love, Sweet Little Rock and Roller, Dream Baby, Shake, Rattle and Roll, The Wanderer

Dion - vocals, guitar
Michael Harvey - drum, percussion
Rick Krive - keyboard
Bob Guertin - vocals, bass instrument
John Michalak - saxophone
Robert Richardson - acoustic guitar, electric guitar
Tony Lavender - background vocals

Heroes is a 2 disc set that sees Dion pay tribute to the early days of rock ‘n’ roll with a 15 track CD and a DVD in which he talks enthusiastically about rocks first pioneers. As he states in the booklet, this is a nod not just to the stars but to the musicians behind them. The likes of James Burton, Luther Perkins and Scotty Moore.

Produced by Dion and Robert Guertin, the duo have managed, in the most part, to give these old standards a freshness that makes this release worthwhile. Who needs another version of Shake Rattle And Roll? "The band and I set out to capture the original intent, essence and passion of these first generation rockers," explains Dion. "While we stayed true to the arrangements, approach and sounds, we let it rip - we didn't copy the solos or simply take a snapshot of the songs. I want to give people a glimpse of who Cliff Gallup was”.

I know this release has garnered universal acclaim from fans and critics alike. I don’t want to sound like a killjoy but it doesn’t all come out peaches and cream for me. I really enjoyed his cover of Ritchie Valens’ Come On Let’s Go, complete with the La Bamba ending. Others that I thought really worked well were Del Shannon’s Runaway, Buddy’s Rave On and his reworking of The Wanderer.

On the downside, I thought Jailhouse Rock and Shake, Rattle and Roll were poor, and Sweet Little Rock and Roller was abysmal. This was virtually karaoke.

Highlight of the album for me was JC’s I Walk The Line where the band and Dion sound great. It had me wondering what Johnny would have sounded like doing The Wanderer. Now that Dion has paid tribute to the rockers, I hope he turns his attention next to the doo-wop groups that inspired him in the early days. This would be the perfect time to reunite with the Belmonts again. To promote that one, what about a few shows in the UK?

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