Mike Aquilina

On This Rock

Friday November 16th 2007, 9:22 am

It’s always great when the rock-music critics stay in lockstep with the Pope. His Holiness has spent the better hours of the last two weeks talking about St. Jerome. And as my friend Dion DiMucci, of the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, rakes in the reviews of his new album, Son Of Skip James, he’s gratified to know that the critics are loving his musical tribute to Jerome, titled “The Thunderer.”

Ken Barnes in USA Today said:

If your image of Dion DiMucci is flash-frozen as a finger-snapping doo-wopper, the idea of a blues album from the singer (his second, following last year’s fine Bronx in Blue) may seem incongruous. But throughout a half-century’s career, Dion has shown he can sing anything, and the mostly acoustic blues standards and originals (plus a little Berry and Dylan) are masterfully delivered via nimble guitar and rich, resonant, nuanced vocals — not far removed from the voice that turned The Drifters’ Ruby Baby and Drip Drop into bluesy classics. And where else are you going to hear a Christian blues number that professes, “I’m a lover, not a fighter/But I could kick your a**”?

The Times of Trenton said:

Of all the rockers left from the 1950s, there is no one still singing with the fire, intensity and passion of the pride of New York, Dion DiMucci. The man who brought us “Runaround Sue,” “The Wanderer” and “Abraham, Martin and John,” has still got it going on as we can hear on the new blues-based “Son of Skip James.”
Dion recorded several blues-based albums in the past, but this return to the genre is a mighty one, filled with scorching versions of classics like Chuck Berry’s “Nadine,” Junior Wells’ “Hoodoo Man Blues,” and a distinctive re-working of Muddy Waters’ “Hoochie Coochie Man.” The big surprise though is that Dion, who released several outstanding faith-based albums in the past, occasionally returns here to themes of religious devotion, especially on one of the set’s major standouts, “The Thunderer,” which focuses on the life of one of his idols, St. Jerome.

We can forgive the word “idols” since the review’s so good. But if anyone wants to help the reviewer to understand the difference between dullia and latreia, go ahead and send him a copy of St. John of Damascus’s Three Treatises on the Divine Images. I’m sure Dion will approve.

And if you haven’t heard “The Thunderer” … get with the papal program!