November 27, 2008

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Pink, Funhouse
La Face Records, Oct. 28
One derogatory Saegerism that’s become an official staple of my scribbling is the term “cab driver music,” which I pray people correctly assume describes 50s/60s/70s rock to chain-smoke and act as tragic Everyman by. In this sphere, the ’70s is represented best by Player, the 60s by Moody Blues, and the 50s by Dion.

And so it was with no small amount of chortling what-the-hellness that I came to request the new Dion album, he of “Runaround Sue” and “The Wanderer” (aren’t you suddenly craving a pack of Newports right now?) (and did you know he covered “Purple Haze” in 1968?), figuring I’d save it for an emergency when a piece absolutely positively needed to write itself before deadline.

Turns out the egg’s on my face, not Dion’s. Since the release of this album — titled perfectly for a late-night K-Tel infomercial — he’s been featured on a snobby NPR show and a bunch of other important stuff I’ve now forgotten, and that’s because this record is, officially, a big deal and I’m a bona fide Johnny Come Lately in telling you so. The aura of these new recordings is pretty much Stray Cats, ie boomy-twangy ’50s Stratocaster, great pains taken in the renditions, “Summertime Blues” done the right way, a la Eddie Cochran, without the paleo-metal foolishness of Blue Cheer or The Who; “Bye Bye Love” with a shot of testosterone; “Runaway” viewed through the prism of a singer who’s always thought of it as a challenging piece. If nothing else, it’ll get heavy airplay in your 5-year-old’s SpongeBob stereo, right? A+EWS