Intimate previously unreleased solo performance by Dion, recorded at the renowned New York folk venue.
In 1969 Dion DiMucci signed to Warner Brothers Records. Starting with “Sit Down Old Friend”, he produced five studio albums for the label over the next seven years. The third, “Sanctuary”, included three tracks from a live season at the Bitter End. A recent trawl of the vaults turned up the complete recordings from those dates and this release is a recreation of an evening’s performance: just Dion, his guitar, and a set of songs he had been working on for several years.
The Bitter End folk club onBleecker Street in New York City’s Greenwich Village was a regular venue for Dion. He played two residencies there before deciding to record a performance. The choice of repertoire is a nice mix of influences and his own songs. ‘Abraham, Martin & John’, Leonard Cohen’s ‘Sisters Of Mercy’ and Lightning Hopkins ‘Drinkin’ That Wine’ had featured on his Laurie album “Dion”. There’s a fantastic take of Sonny Boy Williamson’s ‘Don’t Start Me Talking’, while Chuck Berry’s ‘Too Much Monkey Business’ harks back to his interest in Chicago music. ‘Mama, You’ve Been On My Mind’ and ‘One Too Many Mornings’ demonstrate how important Bob Dylan was to Dion, and Paul McCartney’s ‘Blackbird’ is his nod to the British “infusion”.
Dion’s capabilities as an artist shine through. The reworking of his hits translate well from their pop originals to acoustic interpretations. Most striking is his growing strength as a writer. The heartfelt ‘Your Own Back Yard’, a single from 1970, relates his recovery from addiction, and the lovely ‘Sunniland’, from his 1970 album “You’re Not Alone”, is about living in Florida. Three of the four songs he debuted live, which featured in their studio versions on “Sanctuary”, were self-penned. ‘Sunshine Lady’, written for his wife Susan, ‘Willigo’ and ‘Harmony Sound’ are fine examples of his craft. ‘Sanctuary’ was written by Dick Holler, the composer of ‘Abraham, Martin & John’.
“Live At The Bitter End” presents a portrait of an artist completely at home on stage, applying his experience in life to create music that speaks direct from the soul. It is an important discovery.