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Image Entertainment presents
Dion Live (2004)

"I come from the Bronx...and man, it's an Italian macho neighborhood where everything was about reputation and...respect. It had nothing to do with character; we didn't even know how to spell the word."
- Dion Dimucci

Review By: Jeff Rosado  
Published: September 16, 2004

Stars: Dion Dimucci (lead vocals, electric and acoustic guitars) Butch Barbella (keyboards, backing vocals), Louie Colleti (backing vocals), Jamie "King" Cotton (sax, percussion, backing vocals), Al Korosy (lead guitar), Charlie Powers (drums, vocals)
Other Stars: Bob Guertin (bass, keyboards), Rick Krive (keyboards), Bob "Crow" Richardson (guitar)
Director: David Niles

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:00m:03s
Release Date: September 14, 2004
UPC: 014381260120
Genre: rock


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AAA+ B+

DVD Review

In these days of MTV, VH-1, Fuse, and so on, combined with the visually obsessed society we live in, it's highly unlikely that younger audiences have ever known what its like to hear a cool song by an unknown artist without seeing their mug first.

Remember the days of the old 45 RPM record sleeves that were pictureless, with a hole in the middle where all you could see was the label? Just like the unseen radio announcer with the cool voice, the mystery of what certain performers looked like was nothing short of irresistible—you didn't have music videos cranking up every five minutes or 100 chat shows catering to agents and PR staffers clamoring to get their clients on air to plug their new singles. So it was an event when unveiling time came on shows like Ed Sullivan, American Bandstand or in some of the bigger markets like the Big Apple, Philadelphia, and the West Coast, where local "Dick Clarks" had their little record dance hall party hours.

Whoosh forward a few years and this budding rock and roll scholar's thumbing his way through a musical reference book and comes across this picture of a cool, tuxedoed, brown-haired fella from the Bronx who just happened to be the man responsible for one of my all-time favorite songs. It was Dion.

Unlike some of his peers who sleepwalk through nonstop cash-in tours, coast on their legacies without revitalizing their souls with new material, or haven't aged gracefully, what a kick it is to see Dion Dimucci just as vital and committed as he was in younger days. Embracing his past with verve and passion while turning out impressive new material on albums like Dream on Fire and his terrific 1989 Dave Edmunds-produced comeback album, Yo Frankie, Dion Live is a wildly entertaining career overview capturing the New York-based legend in a recent concert performance at Atlantic City's Tropicana.

Offering more than the usual set list, between song reminiscences from the likeable singer-songwriter paints an artistic portrait of Dion that will surprise casual fans—that of a accomplished, thumb-pick strumming country bluesman firing off Claptonesque acoustic runs (while revisiting classics of the genre like Walking Blues and I Let My Baby Do That), who counts a seemingly unlikely group of influences gathering country legend Hank Williams, Klezmer music, and saxophone great King Curtis. Speaking of the latter, one of Dimucci's most illuminating stories comes via recollecting seeing Curtis at New York's famed Apollo Theater and how his horn lines influenced early singles with the Belmonts including I Wonder Why (so much for my Morse code theory); it's a clever stylistic move that pre-dates Keith Richard's similar use of fuzztone guitar on the likes of Satisfaction and Under My Thumb by at least seven years.

Another such revelatory moment comes as Dimucci recalls the genesis of his killer remake of The Drifters' Ruby Baby, which segues into a classic American Bandstand clip that in turn brings us back to the present with a stellar version of the 1962 top tenner. In addition to all the classics (including Abraham, Martin and John, A Teenager in Love and a rocked up Drip Drop), long time afficianados will appreciate the inclusion of King of the New York Streets (which is also the title of a highly touted three-CD career anthology) and the emotionally stunning The Truth Shall Set You Free, inspired by a mid-1950s conversation with a pal that came to mind years later during the singer's Christian music period, when he reflected on the wise words of a wise friend (and I won't spoil this wonderful story so you can appreciate its full impact in the context of the presentation).

Finally, as a fan of superlative backing groups, I must point out Dion's phenomenal musical crew featuring Al Korosy on lead guitar, keyboardist Butch Barbella, and the multi-talented Jamie "King" Cotton, whose sax work not only recalls Dimucci fave King Curtis, but also the great Steve Douglas, whose honking horn on those classic late-'50s Duanne Eddy instrumentals (Rebel Rouser among them) take them to a whole new plateau.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1:78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: This tastefully shot and edited program (the latter courtesy of David Niles, who worked overtime on the directorial and aural aspects, too) looks prettier than Donna, the Prima Donna. Despite the low-key stage lighting, colors are warm, visuals are pristine (you can even make out offstage personnel) and the 16x 9 branding is just like icing on the cake. In other words, it rocks.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes
DTSEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Image Entertainment, man. Okay, completists, I'll finish. Every aural element of this concert from the vocals to the backing band is warm yet vibrant. Pretty much a dead heat between the DTS/5.1 options, but to my ears, Dolby Digital came out the victor. From the fronts to the backs, a typically polished presentation that excels in every level. Of special note are the musical segments that take place backstage during Dion's recollective monologues; I've never heard an acoustic guitar have so much presence. Truly an excellent recording.

Audio Transfer Grade: A+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 15 cues and remote access
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. One on One with Dion: Interview Outtakes/Additional Music
  2. Full Performance of Ruby Baby from American Bandstand
  3. Photo Gallery
  4. Text Testimonials From Dion's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction (Lou Reed, Waylon Jennings, Bruce Springsteen)
Extras Review: Over 20 minutes of musical and interview outtakes from Live is generously included, some just as good as material chosen for the final cut. In addition to more blues tunes like Who Do You Love and an impressive Drop Down Baby, Dion shares his memories of the ill-fated Winter Dance Party, the 1959 package tour in which the Belmonts played warm up to The Big Bopper, Richie Valens, and, of course, Buddy Holly. Additionally, the full-length vintage American Bandstand clip for Ruby Baby excerpted in the feature is presented in its glory, along with a photo gallery filled with vintage shots (including a Dylanesque backstage image) and written testimonials from some of his rock and roll brethren (Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Waylon Jennings, Bruce Springsteen, and Lou Reed, whose complete speech from the 1989 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony is also presented, unfortunately in text form as well).

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

No need to wonder if anyone's seen our friend Dion. Thank God he's still amongst the roaming and in fine voice to boot on Dion Live, yet another one of Image's superb in-concert DVDs and an essential purchase for any card carrying member of classic rock and roll.

 


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