I have never been a huge fan of Dion, the late 50s/early 60s singer of "Runaround Sue" and "The Wanderer." His stuff just always seemed too lightweight and repetitive for my tastes, and it was in such heavy rotation when I grew up listening to the local oldies station that I was already Dion'd out by the time I was 12.
So with that in mind, it was a total surprise a few weeks ago when I stumbled upon a song of his from the mid-70s, "Only You Know," from the album "Born To Be With You." I'd been reading about some of the work Phil Specter produced after he sort of dropped off the map in the early '70s. He'd reached his zenith with Ike and Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High" in the mid-60s, he worked on the Beatles' "Let It Be" and some early solo discs by John Lennon and George Harrison, and then - disappeared. For whatever reason, I'd been on a Specter kick lately, and I turned to the internet to see if he had any other work that I might want to check out. Sure enough, I learned that he got together with Dion in '75, when both men's careers had fallen considerably under the radar.
And on a very decent album, "Only You Know" stands head and shoulders above the other cuts. It has the hallmarks of all great Phil Spector recordings - the huge Wall of Sound, the excellent hooks that grab your ear and wind their way into your subconsciousness, and the stately, slow-building momentum. "Only You Know" is a slow-ish ballad, and Dion sings to an ex-lover about his longing to go back to the way things were ("I wanna see something that used to be, in your eyes again/I'm waiting to see it, you know it's only a question of when"), but also recognizing that his ex has undergone a breadth of experiences since they split that he can only guess at. The aching of his delivery, the melancholia of the lyrics, and the full-on Spector production rightly made this one a sleeper hit in '75. And it also reminded me that sometimes it's worth looking for lost treasures: