Dion DiMucci, better known only by his first name, was the lead singer of the Belmonts in the late 1950s; his hits with them include "A Teenager In Love." In 1960 the group disbanded and Dion started a solo career. The first album reviewed below was originally released in 1961 and digitally remastered in 1993. In 1962 Dion signed a contract with Columbia Records, for which he would record for the next three years; those recordings are chronicled in the second album reviewed on this page. In 1968 he recorded his final hit, "Abraham, Martin, and John."
1. Runaround Sue (2:50) - The title song, one of the two hits from this album, is slow during the first several lines, with a guitar strum at the start of each line. After that, however, the tempo is moderately fast, with hands clapping on every second and fourth beat. The backup vocals overpower Dion's voice most of the time, but I can tell that the narrator is warning other guys not to fall in love with Sue if they don't want to be hurt by her like he was.
2. Somebody Nobody Wants (2:44) - The tempo is moderate, with the drums playing softly. In the previous song men sang behind Dion; this time women sing behind him. The narrator is feeling left out because all his friends have "special someones" but he doesn't; he longs for such a person to enter his life. I used to feel that same way as a teenager, but now I accept not being wanted romantically and am used to spending most of my time alone.
3. Dream Lover (2:17) - This version is slightly faster than the original version by Bobby Darin. The narrator wants someone beside him at night so he won't "have to dream alone."
4. Life Is But A Dream (2:35) - The tempo is slow, in 12/8 time, with every second and fourth quarter beat accented. The narrator entreats the girl to accept his love and share his life, his dream.
5. The Wanderer (2:47) - The other hit from this album has a moderate swing tempo, with every even-numbered beat accented. In the left channel, you can't hear the instruments when the vocals are active; in the right channel, Dion's voice is a bit faint and the backup vocals aren't audible. I like how the sax plays in the middle instrumental. The narrator continually goes on romantic adventures all over the world.
6. Runaway Girl (2:26) - The tempo is moderately slow, with soft drum-playing. The piano is the most audible instrument during instrumentals. The narrator is heartbroken now that his girlfriend has run away from him.
7. The Majestic (2:41) - Musically, this song resembles "Sue" because it also has hand-clapping and male backup vocals that sometimes overpower Dion's voice. The tempo is a bit slower, however. The Majestic was the latest dance craze at the time this album was released (so the song says, at least).
8. Little Star (2:41) - The tempo is slow at the beginning and at the end, but the rest of the time it's moderately fast. The drums are soft, accenting both eighth beats in each second beat and the quarter beat in each fourth beat. This song gives a new twist to the children's nursery rhyme "Twinkle, Twinkle . . ."; here the narrator begs the star to twinkle and grant him his wish for a girlfriend.
9. Lonely World (2:09) - In this moderately fast song, the narrator's girlfriend has left him and he's begging her to come back. She's the one of whom he dreams in his "lonely world."
10. In The Still Of The Night (2:48) - This version has the same slow tempo as the original version by the Five Satins. Besides drums, which accent every second and fourth beat, the instruments are the piano and the sax. The narrator looks back on the starry May night when he held the girl tight. This night he is asking her to embrace him again.
11. Kansas City (2:40) - This version of the song resembles "The Wanderer" musically because it has the same tempo and piano/drum pattern. The narrator says he's gonna get one of the "crazy little women." I've heard versions by several other artists, including Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers, Little Richard, and the Beatles.
12. Take Good Care Of My Baby (2:26) - This version of a Bobby Vee hit is one key higher and slightly slower than Bobby's version.
1. Can't We Be Sweethearts (2:22) - The tempo is fast. The voices of the backup singers drown out Dion's most of the time, but I can tell that the narrator promises to give the girl hugs and kisses if she wants them from him.
2. Little Girl Of Mine (2:49) - The tempo here is fast also, but slightly slower than in the previous song. The narrator loves his girlfriend so much he'll never let her go. As they walk by, other guys are sure to look with envy. All he asks of her is to be true to him till the end of time. Finger-snapping and backup vocals fill the first 15 seconds, after which the drums enter. A sax plays during the middle instrumental. It's easier to hear Dion's voice this time; nevertheless, the backup ditty is catchy.
3. Oh Happy Day (2:29) - The tempo is slow, in 12/8 time, with every second and fourth quarter beat accented. Ever since the narrator won the girl's heart, his days are sunny with blue skies and on his nights the moon shines.
4. A Sunday Kind Of Love (2:46) - The tempo is similar to that in the previous song, but even slower. The piano is the featured instrument here. The song was previously sung by Jan and Dean.
5. Will Love Ever Come My Way (2:27) - For the first 18 seconds, Dion and the backup vocalists sing a capella and at a slow speed. Once the instruments enter, the tempo is slightly faster than moderate. Hands clap on every second and fourth beat, while the drums accent the second quarter beat and both eighth beats within the fourth beat. This song has a similar theme to the second song from the Sue album reviewed above.
6. Gonna Make It Alone (2:31) - The tempo is moderate. Although the drums accent the even-numbered beats, hands clap on all four beats. I like the drum rolls at the beginning. The narrator has probably just reached adulthood; what's for sure is that he resolves to break away from under his parents' roof, get a place of his own, get his own car, you name it.
7. Ruby Baby (2:36) - The tempo is similar to that in the previous song except for the hand-clapping. Once the drums and hand-clapping enter after the first 19 seconds, the hands clap on every quarter beat for the rest of the first verse. In the other verses and in the fading sequence the hands clap on the first beat, the second eighth beat within the second beat, and the third and fourth beats. In the chorus both the hands and the cymbal drums play on every quarter beat. Ruby doesn't love the narrator, but he is so in love with her that he wants to make her his someday. Although the Drifters sang this song first, Dion had a bigger hit with it. Besides Dion's version, I have one by Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers.
8. This Little Girl (2:35) - The tempo here is the same as two songs ago in all respects. Dion and the backup singers sing a capella and slowly for the first 21 seconds. Although the narrator's girlfriend doesn't treat him nicely, he chooses to stay with her.
9. Flim Flam (2:57) - During the first 22 seconds the beats are sounded only by clapping of hands and stamping of feet. Then the drums enter, accenting every even-numbered beat. The narrator's girlfriend is capricious; first she treats him bad, then once he's down she treats him good.
10. Donna The Prima Donna (2:53) - This time the tempo is moderately fast. During the first 13 seconds only washboard-like and finger-snap-like drums play; the latter drum plays on every even-numbered beat. From 0:27 on, hands also clap on the even-numbered beats. The backup vocals and the instruments overpower Dion's voice, but I do know that the narrator is heartbroken because Donna has betrayed his love for vanity.
11. Drip Drop (2:35) - Another cover of a Drifters song. The regular tempo is just like that of songs 6, 8, and 9. The drums and hand-clapping enter after the first 26 seconds. A sequence occurs twice in which there is a capella singing except for a drum beat at the start of each line and three drum beats whenever Dion sings a word three times. After the first occurrence of that sequence, the hands start clapping on some eighth beats as well as the quarter beats. Rain falls on the narrator's head through his leaking roof now that his girlfriend has left him. In the partially a capella sequence he rejects advice that his buddy gives him.
12. Troubled Mind (2:45) - This song has a slow, 3/4 tempo. The piano is more audible than the drums. The narrator's girlfriend has left him, and no matter where he goes, travel can't ease his mind.
13. Sweet Sweet Baby (2:23) - The tempo is moderate. Once the drums enter after the first 22 seconds, they accent every second and fourth beat; on the fourth beat a tambourine also plays. I like how the harmonica plays during the instrumental and during the fading sequence. The narrator does all the good things that he does for the woman because she is his girlfriend. The backup vocalists don't enter until the drums do, but once they do, they and the instruments overpower Dion's voice.
14. Sweet Papa Di * (2:51) - The tempo is swing, slightly slower than moderate, with the even-numbered beats emphasized. I like the harmonica here too. Just as "Dion" is pronounced "Dee-on," "Di" here is pronounced "Dee." The title and the lyric "I spread my sugar everywhere" imply that the narrator in this song is just like the one in "The Wanderer." Perhaps there's also a second meaning: everywhere in the States that Dion plays a concert, the fans swoon. In this and all subsequent songs, there are no backup singers.
15. Don't Start Me Talkin' * (2:36) - The tempo is moderate. Drums and guitars are the only instruments. The narrator doesn't need anyone to start him talking; he already knows what gossip he's going to reveal to all.
16. Spoonful (2:30) - The tempo is moderately fast, with soft drums and a tambourine. A guitar plays the third and fourth beats of every other measure. The narrator wants a spoonful of the girl's love, whether it be in the form of diamonds, gold, coffee, or tea.
17. The Seventh Son (3:33) - The tempo is slow, in 12/8 time, with every second and fourth beat emphasized. The narrator has, or at least claims to have, extraordinary powers such as predicting the weather, healing the sick, and raising the dead. This version is mediocre; I like Johnny Rivers' moderately fast, 4/4 version a lot better.
18. Kickin' Child ** (3:12) - The tempo is moderately fast. A harmonica plays in the right channel throughout the song. During the middle instrumental a guitar plays lead. The narrator's girlfriend doesn't try to control him; she lets him live his life as he pleases. But she does "kick" him out of his mind.
19. Two Ton Feather ** (2:55) - The tempo is moderate with soft drums. The featured instruments are the guitar and the piano. The narrator is telling his girlfriend to cut out the nonsense she has been playing on him; the "two-ton feather" is a metaphor for the nonsense.
20. Baby, I'm In The Mood For You * (2:37) - Again the tempo is moderate, but this time the drums play hard. The other instruments are a guitar and an organ. In each verse the narrator sings, "Sometime [when] I'm in the mood," he wants to do this or that, but next he sings "then again" four times and finally sings the title.
Lovers Who Wander (2:21) - This song is fast with a slow 15-second intro. After his girlfriend left him, the narrator was sad in the short term, but now he is over her. He considers himself "the luckiest guy in the human race" now that he's discovered "that place for lovers who wander." Does he mean a haven for jilted people like himself, or a place of punishment for people like his ex-girlfriend?
Abraham, Martin, and John (3:17) - An oboe plays slowly for the first 17 seconds. After that, the tempo is moderately fast. This song is about Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr., all of whom were American leaders struck down by assassins; the final verse also mentions a fourth assassination victim, Robert Kennedy. I find symbolism for angels and heaven in the rolls of a harp between verses and during the fading sequence. I also have a version by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.
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