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Dusty in Memphis – Dusty Springfield

Dusty in Memphis

(1969), 9.5/10
Dusty Springfield began her career in a folk-pop trio The Springfields with her brother Tom. When The Springfields broke up, she went on to solo success in the early 1960s with ‘I Only Wanna Be With You’ and ‘I Don’t Know What To Do With Myself’, showcasing her sensual voice. But by the late 1960s her star was fading, and she signed with Atlantic Records in an effort to reignite her career. Recording in Memphis, the production team of Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd, and Arif Mardin gave her more direct, stripped down sound than she was accustomed to.

The standard from Dusty in Memphis is ‘Son of a Preacher Man’ – it was originally written for Aretha Franklin, who passed it over but recorded it after Springfield’s version became successful. Randy Newman contributes ‘Just One Smile’, previously a hit for Gene Pitney, and ‘I Don’t Want To Hear About It Anymore’, the ethereal ‘The Land of Make Believe’ is from Burt Bacharach, while the Carole King and Gerry Goffin team contributes four of the songs. Dusty in Memphis boasts a fabulous beginning trio, where each song lifts the ante from its predecessor – the mid-tempo, memorable ‘Just A Little Lovin” leads into the cool drama of ‘So Much Loving’, before delivering the tour de force of ‘Son of a Preacher Man’.

The ubiquitous ‘Son of a Preacher Man’ is only the tip of the iceberg; Dusty in Memphis boasts an entire album of splendid pop music that strikes a beautiful balance between the emotion of soul and the sophistication of professionally written pop.

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