Dion - Donna The Prima Donna + Wonder Where I'm Bound (1963/1969)

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Dion - Donna The Prima Donna + Wonder Where I'm Bound (1963/1969)
Artist: Dion
Title Of Album: Donna The Prima Donna + Wonder Where I'm Bound
Year Of Release: 1963 (2015)/1969 (2010)
Genre: Pop Rock, Doo Wop
Label: Columbia / Now Sounds
Format: MP3
Quality: 320 kbps, 44.1 Khz
Total Time: 31:05+34:20
Total Size: 154 MB
Covers: Front

01. Donna The Prima Donna (2:47)
02. Can't We Be Sweethearts (2:17)
03. Sweet, Sweet Baby (2:16)
04. This Little Girl Of Mine (2:46)
05. Flim Flam (2:54)
06. Troubled Mind (2:41)
07. This Little Girl (2:33)
08. Oh Happy Day (2:28)
09. You're Mine (2:23)
10. Donna (2:37)
11. I Can't Believe (That You Don't Love Me Anymore) (2:28)
12. Be Careful Of Stones That You Throw (2:49)

"Donna the Prima Donna" was one of Dion's last hits before the British Invasion interrupted his chart success for five years or so, reaching #6 in late 1963. It was written by the team of Dion and Ernie Maresca, who wrote or co-wrote a few songs recorded by Dion in the early 1960s, most notably "Runaround Sue." And, like "Runaround Sue" and those other songs, it milked a semi-chanted doo wop vocal hook that first descended and then rose again to its starting line, with the backup singers vocalizing "donna, donna, the prima donna" over and over in the intro and during the choruses. To some, it must have sounded a little formulaic for Dion at this point, and there would be some truth to that assertion. But "Donna the Prima Donna" was still a worthy hit record, if only because so much thought was put into the arrangement, putting some spin onto the familiar terrain. Especially rewarding was the opening almost a cappella vocal section, in which the round-like chants were backed by a slightly goofy bass voice, as well as what sounded like shuffling castanets. When the full band enters, as expected Dion comes on top with some rich hurt tough-guy wails. The lyrical motif of "Donna the Prima Donna," probably to the disappointment of those that respect women, was similar to that of "Runaround Sue" too: a woman that the guy falls for, but who turns out to have roving eyes. In "Donna the Prima Donna," he goes for the jugular, not just accusing her of being stuck-up, but coming down hard on her materialism as well. Donna's an archetype, perhaps, of a woman New York guys of the time were frustrated with, one who wouldn't settle down and who put on airs, but who they couldn't help lusting after. For all this, it's a pretty enjoyable record, with cool hooting harmonies by the backup singers during the verses, and a quite swinging and catchy blues-doo wop-pop verve. There's also a dramatic bridge that Dion brings to a crashing close by exclaiming he doesn't have a chance at romance with Donna without money. ~Song by by Richie Unterberger

01. I Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound (2:56)
02. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (3:32)
03. A Sunday Kind Of Love (2:47)
04. Knowing I Won't Go Back There (2:55)
05. 900 Miles (3:31)
06. Now (2:41)
07. Southern Train (3:42)
08. The Seventh Son (3:18)
09. Farewell (3:27)
10. Wake Up Baby (3:13)
11. Baby, Please Don't Go (2:13)

Columbia failed to release a Dion LP in 1964-1966, although he cut more than enough material for the label during that time to generate one. Just months after Dion had commercially returned from the dead with his smash "Abraham, Martin & John," Columbia patched together this assortment of odds and ends from the vaults, most of it apparently selected with an eye toward folk-rock material. Although the packaging was substandard, this is actually a pretty good collection of mid-'60s cuts that reveal (along with others that have surfaced on some other anthologies) that Dion was among the earlier significant artists to create interesting folk-rock. It would have done much more to bolster his reputation had it been issued in 1965 or 1966. Nonetheless, it contains its share of good performances, like covers of Tom Paxton's "I Can't Help but Wonder Where I'm Bound" (heard here in a version with strings, unlike the stringless one on the compilation The Road I'm On: A Retrospective), and Bob Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," and "Farewell." Dion himself wrote or co-wrote "Knowing I Won't Go Back There," "Now," and "Wake up Baby," which are all decent, tuneful folk-rockers with characteristic early New York folk-rock production from early Dylan producer Tom Wilson. The cover of Woody Guthrie's "900 Miles" is quality acoustic folk-blues, and Dion also proves himself a fine white bluesman on "Southern Train" and "The Seventh Son," taking a respectable stab at a Mose Allison-styled arrangement of the blues standard "Baby, Please Don't Go." On the other hand, the doo wop classic ,"A Sunday Kind of Love," sounds pretty misplaced here. This is well worth picking up, though, particularly as four of the songs ("Now," "Southern Train," "Wake up Baby," and "Farewell") don't appear on the two CD reissues of Dion's Columbia material: The Road I'm On: A Retrospective and Bronx Blues: The Columbia Recordings (1962-1965). ~by Richie Unterberger

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