Dion – Blues With Friends


The wanderer is back. Rock n roll legend Dion DiMucci returns with new a new album, ‘Blues With Friends’ – a collection of new blues songs recorded for Joe Bonamassa’s KTBA label. And he’s thumbed through the pages of his contacts book and asked a select gathering of A-list friends to join him for the ride too.

It’s a safe bet that the guy who wrote ‘Runaround Sue’ and ‘Abraham, Martin and John’, the guy who was inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame 30 frikkin’ years ago (by none other than Lou Reed) is going to have a fairly impressive list of names on his Christmas card list…and it feels like they’ve all been roped in for this release.

We’ll get to the guests in a minute. Let’s look at the songs first. They’re ok, they’re good. They’re fairly standard soft blues rock songs that you’d hear on any quality contemporary blues release. there’s a goodly mix of styles – there are your standard 12 bar rockers, there are shuffles, there’s a smidge of country blues, some flat-out rock ‘n roll, a bit of boogie and even some barroom jazz. The songs are fine.

But it’s the guest list that makes this an album that you need to listen to. The folk that have lent their names and talent to this album are mind boggling. Several stadium fillers and a handful of sundry legends…if legends can be described as ‘sundry’.

Who have we got? I’ll tell you who we’ve got (well, some of them anyway). This album being recorded on the KTBA label (Keeping The Blues Alive), Mr. Bonamassa was sure to lend a hand, and sure enough there he is on track one, wailing away with his usual elan. Stray Cats main man Brian Setzer turns up to fill ‘Uptown Number 7’ with an array of quiffs, tatts and to-die-for guitar heroics.

Who else? Jeff Beck brings his other-worldly guitar to a cry-in-your-beer lament. Billy Gibbons adds a customary layer of grease to ‘Bam Bang Boom’ while Van Morrison and Joe Louis Walker team up for one of the albums highlights – the swampy ‘I Got Nothin’. It’s simply the sound of three stellar bluesmen having a ball, sparring and trading blues-isms. You’ll rarely be in safer hands.

Not enough big guitar names yet? Sonny Landreth and Samantha Fish both rock up to, erm, rock out. For relative newcomer Ms. Fish to be on this album with such esteemed company just goes to show what high regard she’s held in. And then we’re in to the really big names. Paul Simon duets on a moving and none-more-timely anti-racist tribute to the great Sam Cooke which is as classy as you’d expect.

And then we’re into a one-two from E Street. Stevie Van Zandt, Springsteen’s faithful consigliere, rips through the short but sweet streetwise blues of ‘Way Down’, while Patti Scialfa and Bruce himself sing backing vocals on the slow burning ‘Hymn To Him’.

So there we go, a genuine, bona fide member of rock’s royal family, writing and recording an album of pretty good blues songs with the assistance of a much-more-than-pretty-good team of fans and peers. It’s good stuff, give it a listen. Oh yeah, and a certain Bob Dylan has written the liner notes…nuff said.

Review by Gary Cordwell

Released on 5 June 2020 by KTBA Records



Track list:

  1. Blues Comin’ On  feat. Joe Bonamassa
  2. Kickin’ Child  feat. Joe Menza
  3. Uptown Number 7  feat. Brian Setzer
  4. Can’t Start Over Again  feat. Jeff Beck
  5. My Baby Loves To Boogie  feat. John Hammond
  6. I Got Nothin’  feat. Van Morrison and Joe Louis Walker
  7. Stumbling Blues  feat. Jimmy and Jerry Vivino
  8. Bam Bang Boom  feat. Billy Gibbons
  9. I Got The Cure  feat. Sonny Landreth
  10. Song For Sam Cook (Here In America) feat. Paul Simon
  11. What If I Told You  feat. Samantha Fish
  12. Told You Once In August  feat. John Hammond and Rory Block
  13. Way Down (I Won’t Cry No More)  feat. Stevie Van Zandt
  14. Hymn To Him  feat. Patti Scialfa and Bruce Springsteen