In the pre-Beatles era of the early 1960s, no one was tougher than Dion. He came to the airwaves straight off of the mean streets of the Bronx, and his music went right to the heart of every young rebel who could only dream of being as cool. Influenced by the music of Hank Williams as well as rhythm & blues, Dion picked up his first guitar as at age twelve. As the first rock & roll artist signed to Columbia Records, Dion went straight to the top of the charts with rocking hits such as "Runaround Sue."
Whether staking out his turf with macho swagger ("The Wanderer") or wrapping his voice around a standard ("Ruby Baby"), Dion displayed an amazing versatility. THE ESSENTIAL DION features a representative overview of Dion's career from 1961 to 1968, including the aforementioned songs. The disc also presents Dion as a more sophisticated stylist of topical ballads ("Abraham, Martin and John"). Though it does leave out Dion's early doo-wop hits, this 14-track package is a nice, easily digestible compilation for the casual fan.