Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Albums2010 #43: Dusty In Memphis

If Adele, Joss Stone, Duffy and Amy Winehouse had a 'musical' grandmother, so to speak, it'd be Dusty Springfield. Most people of my generation probably remember 'Son of a Preacher Man' from Pulp Fiction- which did spark something of a renewed interest in her music in the mid-90s, but if you go back a bit further, you find that there's more than just one sixties pop song on offer.

And with her iconic album, Dusty In Memphis, you get a taste of the real range of this remarkable talent. There's an interesting blend of what I would consider very '60's' music- the sort of big orchestral sounds that bring to mind Burt Bacharach and Phil Spector (which makes sense, since she recored 'I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself' which Bacharach in 1964) and more straight up soul-blues type of a sound (typified by 'Son Of A Preacher Man' and 'That Old Sweet Roll') It seems sort of crazy and might sound a little dated at first, but the fact is that her voice is just amazing- one of those iconic voices that's smooth as butter and appropriately if you couldn't describe it as 'dusky' or 'smoky' you could probably get away with describing it as 'dusty.'

Her voice alone makes this album worth a listen- but if you love the Swingin' 60s and all the music contained therein, then this becomes something of a must have. Little stabs of memory jump out all over the place- Springfield's version of 'The Windmills Of Your Mind' (versions of which were used in 1968's The Thomas Crown Affair and the 1999 remake with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo) shows up- and I know I've heard 'Make It With You' in some old movie. And Springfield's recorded her versions of the 60s classic as 'Wishin' and Hopin'' and 'I Only Want To Be With You' and with her platinum blonde hair and beehive hairdo, she is a musical icon of that decade- a one eminently worth of the title.

And if that isn't enough for you, then let me add this little bit of trivia- it was none other than Dusty Springfield, while recording this album, who made a phone call to her record company recommending they sign this up and coming band called Led Zeppelin. Not having actually heard the band and largely on her recommendation, they did so- and the rest, as they say, is history. (Plus, as an added bonus- both Randy Newman- though I don't know if I'd consider that a bonus- and Carole King- a sure fire bonus both worked on writing songs for this album.)

Overall: **** out of 4 Blues, Soul and 60s Perfection- a smoky, sultry voice and mind-blowing talent holds it all together. If you want to kick it old school now and again, Dusty Springfield will never let you down.

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