On May 12, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dion will release Kickin' Child: The Lost Album 1965, a 15-song collection that, as its title suggests, was recorded by the singer 52 years ago, but never released in its intended form.

As the 77-year-old Dion tells it, the reason for the delay was a combination of fleeting memory and a simmering frustration with his old label, Columbia Records.

“I just forgot about this album,” Dion recently told Billboard. “There were a lot of bad relationships that got very convoluted up at Columbia. … There were a lot of bad vibes around the whole thing.”

He left the label, which wound up releasing seven of the tracks as four singles in 1965 and 1966. All but one of Kickin’ Child’s cuts can be found scattered across a number of reissues and compilations released over the course of the past 25-plus years. Hearing the songs again, as they were originally intended to be heard, helped Dion change his attitude toward his old adversary.

"The cloud lifted like vapor," he told Billboard. "It just lifted right out of my head. And I heard the music loud and clear like it was present to me. It wasn't a novelty. It was rich. It wasn't artistic, it was heartfelt. It was live. It was the real deal. And I said, 'Man, this stuff is good.' And I was proud of it."

The songs form something of a bridge between his solo hits, after leaving his doo-wop group the Belmonts, and the singer-songwriter material he began releasing in 1968 with the hit “Abraham, Martin and John,” a style he maintained throughout a string of underrated albums in the ‘70s. Bob Dylan’s influence is prevalent throughout, from Dion’s vocal stylings on the title song through the inclusion of three Dylan compositions among the album’s 15 tracks.

"I just liked them," Dion said of the Dylan songs in Billboard. "I didn't give it much thought. It's hard to explain music when it goes in your gut and makes left and right and turns and moves you and resonates with you."

Kickin’ Child, which is being released by Norton Records, also gives listeners a taste of the bluesy material that Dion began recording in the early days of the British Invasion. “Two Ton Feather” is a chaotic storm of the blues — part Muddy Waters, part Highway 61 Revisited — while “All I Want to Do is Live My Life” prominently features a blues harp that challenges Dion’s voice and doesn’t back down until the end.

The album’s release may foreshadow the release of additional Dion music in the near future. A box set of the artist’s complete recordings for Columbia Records — from classics like “Ruby Baby” and “Donna the Prima Donna” through his sublime cover of Tom Paxton’s “I Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound” in 1969 — is being considered, though no timetable has been set for the project.

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