Dusty Springfield – Dusty In Memphis – Rhino Records

by | Feb 22, 2023 | Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews, SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Rhino Records releases a limited edition vinyl of a classic album.

Dusty Springfield – Dusty In Memphis – Atlantic Records RCV1 8214 (1969)/Rhino Records (2023) Limited Edition Crystal-Clear Vinyl [3/3/2023], 32:39 ****1/2:

(Dusty Springfield – vocals; Gene Christian – drums; Reggie Young – guitar, sitar; Tommy Cogbill – bass, guitar; Bobby Emmons – organ, electric piano, congas; Bobby Wood – piano; Mike Leach – conga; The Sweet Inspirations – backup vocals; Arif Mardin – horn arrangements, string arrangements; Tom Dowd – horn arrangements; Gene Orloff – string section direction)

Singer Dusty Springfield was a fixture on the 60’s pop scene in England. With a husky mezzo-soprano voice, she was able to belt out songs with soulful conviction. Her initial success included hits like “I Only Want To Be With You”, “Wishin’ And Hopin’” and “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me”. Her vocal delivery and hand motions were unique. As the 60’s were winding down, Springfield was looking to expand her repertoire, and more importantly, record in America. British singers in this era, were devotees of soul music, and in particular the Memphis-based sound at Atlantic Records. In 1969, Springfield signed with the label and released Dusty In Memphis. Produced by Jerry Wexler, Arif Mardin and Tom Dowd, the sessions included a top-notch band and backup singers. The breakout single, “Son Of A Preacher Man” fared well (in the Billboard Top 10), but the record was not initially successful and stalled her career. Over the years, this album has garnered critical acclaim and had a commercial resurgence. 

Album Cover for Dusty in Memphis, VinylRhino Records has released a Limited Edition Crystal-Clear vinyl of Dusty In Memphis. The stellar production, song selections and instrumentals are formidable. Side 1 opens with “Just A Little Lovin’”, written by the Brill Building team of Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil. Springfield’s relaxed delivery is framed by lush strings and gospel backup vocals (The Sweet Inspirations). Staying with Brill songwriting, she covers Gerry Goffin & Carole King’s (one of four). “So Much Lovin”. The polished Memphis soul arrangement envelops the heartfelt vocals. Clearly, the standout track of this album (and perhaps Dusty Springfield’s career) is “Son Of A Preacher Man”. Here, the guitar hooks, horn accents and doo-wop like backup singing capture her affinity for soul. Her phrasing is immaculate There are two Randy Newman songs on the album. Those hypnotic Memphis grooves and a restrained performance, sell this elaborately produced torch song “I Don’t Want To Hear It Anymore”). While the layered sound is expansive (string accents, French horn), it never encroaches on the focus, Springfield’s voice which turns up the heat at the end. Another Goffin/King composition, “Don’t Forget About Me” explores urban romantic angst and the lilting, tender voicing is effective. “Breakfast In Bed” is more heartbreak, surrounded by strings and horns. Springfield has an innate sense when to modulate the volume and then dial it back at the right time.

The second Newman composition (“Just One Smile”) had been covered previously by Blood Sweat & Tears a year earlier. This cover has a folk vibe with acoustic guitar. Springfield’s slightly raspy tonality fits the emotional tenor of the song. Another significant hit from this album is “Windmills Of Your Mind” (from The Thomas Crown Affair). Although there was a vocal in the movie, this version has become quintessential. Springfield’s subtle vocal style is graceful and embraces the cinematic swirls of the orchestra. She has a sense of jazzy intonation, and the hybrid of late 60’s rock and Latin-infused motifs is catchy. The lone Bacharach/David tune (“The Land Of Make Believe”) is predictably melodic with an odd sitar-like accompaniment. Here, Dusty’s upper register is nuanced and lends warmth. The final two cuts are from Goffin/King. “No Easy Way Down” re-engages gospel resonance with Springfield and The Sweet Inspirations in glorious harmony. The horns add a muscular texture and complement Springfield’s measured performance. The finale, “I Can’t Make It Alone” is lyrical and melancholic with the right touch of soulful urgency. It feels like a Sunday testimonial.

Rhino Records clear vinyl of Dusty In Memphis would be a great addition to any music library. The “big” sound production is vibrant and the overall mix is centered on Springfield’s unique voice. 

—Robbie Gerson

Dusty in Memphis

Side 1:
Just A Little Lovin’;
So Much Love;
Son Of A Preacher Man;
I Don’t Want To Hear It Anymore;
Don’t Forget About Me;
Breakfast In Bed

Side 2:
Just One Smile;
The Windmills Of Your Mind;
In The Land Of Make Believe;
No Easy Way Down;
I Can’t Make It Alone     

More Information Available through Rhino Records:

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Album Cover for Dusty In Memphis


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