The Belmonts

The Very Best of the Belmonts: Tell Me Why

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As Bill Dahl writes in his excellent liner notes, Dion says that he split from the Belmonts in 1961 because they wanted to take a smoother, more traditional musical approach and he wanted to introduce more strains of rock & roll and blues. But when the Belmonts got out on their own, they ended up following Dion's lead to such an extent that they might as well have stayed with him. This is clear from a listen to Collectables Records' 25-track collection of their 1961-1964 recordings for their own Sabina label, including the six singles they charted. True, they could offer their covers of songs associated with Duke Ellington ("Don't Get Around Much Anymore"), Bing Crosby ("AC-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive"), and Frank Sinatra ("This Love of Mine"). But many of their performances sounded like copies of Dion hits, particularly "I Need Someone," a dead ringer for "Runaround Sue" that followed its appearance by months. Collectables focuses on the Belmonts' similarity to Dion by including several recordings on which they sang backup to Dion soundalikes. "So Wrong" and "Lookout for Cindy" feature lead vocals by Pete Barin, while Buddy Christie (aka Buddy Sheppard) takes the lead on "That Background Sound," "Now It's All Over," and "Time to Dream." The Belmonts themselves changed lead singers during this period, with Carlo Mastrangelo being replaced by Frank Lyndon, and since the sequencing mixes up the chronology, the tracks seem to be coming from several different Dion & the Belmonts copycat groups. Nevertheless, there are many enjoyable performances here (all but six of them in stereo), and this album will make a good addition to the collection of any Dion fan.

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