Dion - Blues With Friends review: The blues cognoscenti assemble to join DiMucci's timeless vocals
The stellar line-up on this album is testament to how well-regarded Dion DiMucci is among the blues cognoscenti.
“I needed to round up the best guitarists and musicians alive and pick them from every generation, every variation of blues,” the singer explains. And he’s done just that. From Joe Bonamassa’s superb slide on opener Blues Comin’ On and Van Morrison’s vocals on I Got Nothin’, to Samantha Fish’s searing guitar on What If I Told You, it’s an aural treat best heard with the volume cranked up.
For me the stand-out track is Here in America, featuring Paul Simon harmonies and glorious fiddle. It’s an achingly personal account about Dion’s trip with Sam Cooke to Memphis in ’62 — their friendship and the racism they faced. “I never thought about the colour of your skin … but the places I could stay they all made you walk away.” It’s as pertinent today as it was 60 years ago.
There are tracks featuring cameos by Springsteen, Jeff Beck and Billy Gibbons. Yet despite the glittering talent, it’s the 80-year-old’s timeless vocals that shine through all 14 original tracks. As Dylan (yes, that Dylan) says in his liner notes: “It’s Dion by himself alone, and that masterful voice of his that will keep you returning to share these blues songs with him.” Amen to that.