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Dianacally Yours

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  • The avalanche of Paul Anka compilations suggests there's a surplus of comprehensive retrospectives, but that's hardly the case. Many of these collections are budget-line affairs, which means that Bear Family's 2013 set Dianacally Yours is the first serious Anka overview since Rhino's 1989 anthology 30th Anniversary Collection. Where that set ran all the way into the '70s, thereby covering his comeback as a proudly sappy supper club crooner, Dianacally Yours digs deep into his teen pop prime, offering a whopping 36 tracks released between 1957 and 1962. Naturally, all of his big hits are here -- the number one hits "Diana" and "Lonely Boy," "Put Your Head on My Shoulder," "You Are My Destiny," "My Home Town," "Puppy Love," all Billboard Top Tens -- and so are all of the other charting singles from this era, along with B-sides and other deep tracks. Much of this is bombastic melodrama, built upon a wall of strings and backing vocals, songs that have as much to do with big-band crooning as they did with rock & roll or sock hops. It's showbiz splash delivered with panache, at least on the aforementioned hits; elsewhere, the onslaught of syrup and silliness can be a little bit exhausting, which makes the songs that break the template -- "Late Last Night" percolates with paranoia, fueled by a startlingly raw, distorted guitar riff; "A Steel Guitar and a Glass of Wine" has a Latin lilt that nicely offsets Anka's Dean Martin salute -- stand out even more. Then again, these singles were never meant to be heard all in a row. They were meant to be heard individually and when Dianacally Yours is sampled a few songs at a time, this period pop retains its charms even if it is only the big hits that retain power. Overall, it is clearly the best Anka comp ever produced (the sound is sterling, the notes detailed), even if its very thoroughness may keep the curious somewhat at bay. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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