Dion as a solo artist was initially a kind of hybrid performer, known for his teen idol image but trying for a harder and also a more advanced sound, as revealed on this album. The hits included here, "Runaround Sue," "The Wanderer," and "The Majestic," are so familiar that they tend to eclipse the rest of this 14 song album -- all of the rest, however, is well-sung, -played, and -arranged, ranging from basic hard rock & roll ("Kansas City") to smooth teen pop, which always keeps at least one foot up to the ankle in rock & roll (hence the electric guitar solo on "Could Somebody Take My Place Tonight"). "Little Star" has rated inclusion on several key collections, while "Lonely World" is perhaps the lost single off of this album, with a great beat, killer hooks, and a beautifully shaped performance by the singer and his backup vocalists. What's more, even the covers of familiar material such as "Dream Lover" and "In the Still of the Night" are performed in a style unique to Dion and are worth hearing and owning. The singer was still straddling the gap between teen idol and serious rock & roller, and between late-'50s doo wop and a harder early-'60s sound, although the more serious love songs and the surprisingly articulate guitar solo on "Kansas City" clearly showed that he was winning the musical battle for his own distinct sound. It wasn't a long jump from the repertory here to his distinctive covers of R&B classics like "Ruby Baby."
Runaround Sue Review
by Bruce Eder