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Classic of the Week

February 09, 1995|JANET KINOSIAN

Dusty Springfield

"Dusty in Memphis" (1969)

Rhino/Atlantic

When Atlantic Records chief Ahmet Ertegun heard Dusty Springfield's gutsy version of Carole King and Gerry Goffin's "Some of Your Loving," he knew he'd found a voice that could send shivers. So he took the British singer--who already had a number of pop hits to her credit--to Memphis and hooked her up with the rhythm section that backed the likes of Wilson Pickett, King Curtis and Elvis Presley. The result: an album many critics still hail as one of the 10 best of the '60s.

It was uncharted territory for Springfield, but all the tracks were laid down in a week, and they combined to make a grooving manifesto of just what a voice can do. Highlights include Springfield's strutting "Son of a Preacher Man," two Randy Newman tunes ("Just One Smile" and "I Don't Want to Hear It Anymore") and versions of five more King & Goffin songs--from the sweet and pleading "So Much Love" to the poppy "Don't Forget About Me" to a deep-dish gospel "That Old Sweet Roll (Hi-De-Ho)".

Commercially, the album never took off (it was the era of Woodstock, Zeppelin and "Hey Jude"), but even Springfield was surprised by the critics, though she said the best review came from the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin:

"All Aretha ever said to me--and I died--we were in a lift, and she just put her hand on my arm and went, 'girrlll!' " Franklin had turned down "Son of a Preacher Man," but after hearing Springfield's take, she ran out and recorded it herself.

So sly and suggestive yet stable are Springfield's performances on this album that, to this day, women singers cite her as a major influence. "Dusty Springfield was very cool," Patti Scialfa told Rolling Stone. "When she sang, it was very womanly. She didn't sing girlie. She was great." Scialfa went on to say that she and husband Bruce Springsteen "wanted to name our little girl Dusty. But Dusty Springsteen? I couldn't."

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