Dion Son Of Skip James Review

Album. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

Son Of Skip James is one for both longtime fans AND blues afficianados alike…

Chris Jones 2007

It's a common trait: Artists who made their names within later, hybridized genres such as soul, funk or in Dion’s case, rock 'n' roll have a habit, in later years, of returning to the source: The blues. Following the surprise success of last year's Bronx In Blue - wherein the New York legend payed homage to the twelve bar format without which his own brand of doo wop would not have existed – Mr DiMucci repeats the formula. But does the world need another slice of re-heated standards?

The reason Bronx In Blue succeeded was down to two things. One: Dion's music always contained a healthy dose of r 'n' b - he famously played the Newport festivals - so his matured vocals in no way struggle with the grittier format. Two: The stripped back approach coupled with a genuine sense of 'street' actually gave something new to hoary old chestnuts like Robert Johnson's "Crossroads". For these reasons alone we should welcome Son Of Skip James. It's every inch the equal of its predecessor.

From the electric blues of Chicago's Chess label (Chuck Berry's "Nadine" and Willy Dixon's "My Babe") to the Mississipi mire of Sleepy John Estes ("Drop Down Mama") and Johnson ("Preachin' Blues" and "If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day") via Bob Dylan, a couple of worthy originals and of course Skip James himself, DiMucci shows who's boss. His voice has authority and the recording's simple dynamics of acoustic, drums and keys is purity incarnate.

His own contributions (especially the spoken "Interlude (Dylan Story)") mange to encapsulate both his standing in his hometown, and his love of both God and the Devil's music. Simplicity this affecting takes years to pull off. This is why for years those in the know have been singing the praises of this man who has made a mark in everything from rock to folk. Son Of Skip James is one for both longtime fans AND blues afficianados alike…

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