Monday, October 10, 2016

SHG: Dion: "Ruby, Baby"

Dion: “Ruby Baby”
Entered the chart on: 1/26/63
Peaked on: 2/23/63
Weeks at #2: 3
Song at #1: “Hey, Paula” by Paul & Paula and “Walk Like a Man” by the Four Seasons

So...we’ve made it to 1963 unscathed. I’m biding my time until 1964—savvy readers of this feature ought to know what happens then. In the meantime, some interesting developments in ’63 mean it’s shaping up to finally really feel like the 60s, instead of the dregs of the late 50s. Which is fine for me; as much as I enjoyed watching the movie Hairspray*, it’s not a place I’d want to live.

So...we’re back to Dion. Of the Italian-American pretty boys that were in vogue at the time, he is by far my favorite, questionably sexist lyrical content aside. Unlike Frankie Avalon, Paul Anka and the Bobbys, Dion had actual rock & roll credibility, as well as a dynamite singing voice.

That said, I’m not conjuring up a memory of this one in my head. Which is odd, since it’s technically his second-biggest hit**. Clearly I need a refresher course, so let’s get to it!

OK, the Leiber-Stoller credit on the label (his first for Columbia after years with Laurie) gives me hope. As does the stark intro of just guitar chords. Dion’s voice enters, so slinky and loaded with soul. This is almost a throwback to Sun Records rockabilly stuff. I just adore how off-the-cuff Dion’s performance is here, all the casual asides he throws out in between phrases add to the appeal of this one.

Wow! How did I forget this was a thing? Why bother with Tame Elvis when Dion was more in the spirit of those early Elvis sides in ’63 than Elvis was anymore?

Shame on me for forgetting about this! This has to be the best classic rock & roll styled number I’ve covered on Second Hand Goods in a while!

Rating: 5 *the John Waters original, not the musical abomination, thank you. **after “Runaround Sue,” his only #1. As you’ll recall “The Wanderer” went to #2 as well, but only spent one week there.

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