Dusty Springfield - Dusty in Memphis

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Dusty Springfield - Dusty in Memphis
Dusty Springfield, Dusty in Memphis (1969).png
Studio album by Dusty Springfield (U.S. cover not for sale)
Released 31 March 1969
Recorded September 1968
Studio American Sound Studios in Memphis; Dusty Springfield's final vocals recorded in New York
Genre Pop, soul, R&B, blue-eyed soul
Length 33:31
Label Atlantic
Producer Jerry Wexler, Arif Mardin, Tom Dowd
Dusty Springfield chronology
Dusty... Definitely
(1968)
Dusty in Memphis
(1969)
A Brand New Me
(1970)
 
Alternative cover
 
UK edition
UK edition
                              (correct cover for sale)
 

 

  "Dusty in Memphis" is the fifth studio album by English singer Dusty Springfield. She recorded the album at American Sound Studio in Memphis with a team of musicians and producers that included Jerry Wexler, Arif Mardin, Tom Dowd, conductor Gene Orloff, backing vocalists The Sweet Inspirations, bassist Tommy Cogbill, and guitarist Reggie Young. It featured one of her top-10 UK hits, "Son of a Preacher man". Although Dusty in Memphis sold poorly when it was first released by Atlantic Records in 1969, the album has since been acclaimed by critics as one of the greatest records of all time and Springfield's best work. The album received a Grammy award in 2001.

 

Background

Hoping to reinvigorate her career and boost her credibility, Dusty Springfield turned to the roots of soul music. She signed with Atlantic Records, home label of one of her soul music idols, Aretha Franklin. Although she had sung R&B songs before, she had never released an entire album solely of R&B songs. She began recording an album in Memphis, Tennessee, where some notable blues musicians had grown up. The Memphis sessions at the American Sound Studios were recorded by the A team of Atlantic Records. It included producers Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd and Arif Mardin, the back-up singers Sweet Inspirations and the instrumental band Memphis Cats, led by guitarist Reggie Young and bassist Tommy Cogbill. The Memphis Cats had previously backed Wilson Pickett, King Curtis and Elvis presley. Terry Manning (also a recording engineer, but in this case) a writer for the New Musical Express attended the recording sessions, and ended up assisting Tom Dowd. The songs were written by, among others, Gerry Goffin & Carole King, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil, Michel Legrand, Randy Newman, and Burt Bacharach & Hal David.

 

Recording

The recording was a challenge for Wexler. In his book Rhythm and the Blues, Wexler wrote that out of all the songs that were initially recorded for the album, "she approved exactly zero." For her, he continued, "to say yes to one song was seen as a lifetime commitment." Springfield disputed this, saying she did choose two: "Son of a Preacher Man" and "Just a Little Lovin'". He was surprised, given Dusty's talent, by her apparent insecurity. Springfield later attributed her initial unease to a very real anxiety about being compared with the soul greats who had recorded in the same studios. Eventually Dusty's final vocals were recorded in New York. Additionally, Springfield stated that she had never before worked with just a rhythm track, and that it was the first time she had worked with outside producers, having self-produced her previous recordings (something for which she never took credit).

During the Memphis sessions in November 1968, Springfield suggested to the heads of Atlantic Records that they should sign the newly formed Led Zeppelin group. She knew the band's bass player John Paul Jones, who had backed her in concerts before. Without having ever seen them and largely on Dusty's advice, the record company signed a deal of $200,000 with them. At the time, that was the biggest deal of its kind for a new band.

 

Release and reception

Professional ratings
Retrospective reviews
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 5/5 stars
Entertainment Weekly A
Music Story 5/5 stars
MusicHound Rock 4/5
Q 3/5 stars
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 5/5 stars
Sputnik Music 4.5/5

Dusty in Memphis was released by Atlantic Records on 31 March 1969 in the United States and 18 April in the United Kingdom. The album was a commercial failure in both countries, only reaching number 99 on the American album charts and failing to chart altogether on the British Top 40. According to music journalist Peter Robinson, its failure stalled Springfield's career rather than revive it, although the record eventually became "a popcultural milestone [and] timeless emotional reference point" for listeners who discovered it in second hand stores, or purchased one of its several reissues years later. Robert Christgau called it "a pop standard and classic", predicting in his 1973 column for Newsday it would be "the kind of record that will sell for years because its admirers need replacement copies, and it is the perfect instance of how a production team should work." Greil Marcus was less enthusiastic in Rolling Stone, deeming some of the songwriting inconsistent on what was "a real drifting, cool, smart, sexually distracted soul album".

Dusty in Memphis has frequently been named one of the greatest albums of all-time; according to Acclaimed Music, it is the 104th most ranked record on critics' all-time lists. NME named it the 54th greatest album ever in their 1993 list, and in 2003, Rolling Stone ranked the record 89th on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Richie Unterberger wrote in AllMusic that the album's reputation has improved significantly over time and felt it was "deserving of its classic status". Tony Scherman from Entertainment Weekly said "Dusty in Memphis" was a "pure gem", Springfield's greatest work, and perhaps one of the greatest pop records ever recorded, Q took note of its balance between "R&B and sensitive pop dramas", while Spin critic Chuck Eddy viewed it as one of the all-important Blue eyed soul records. In The A.V. Club, Keith Phipps wrote that Springfield and her team of musicians and producers for "Dusty in Memphis" developed an elegant and distinct fusion of pop and R&B that predated the Philadelphis soul sound of the 1970s. According to Eric Klinger from PopMatters, its sophisticated style of music influenced the sound of 1990s trip hop artists who sampled songs from the album and became a blueprint for British female singers of the 2000s, including Adele, Rumer, and Duffy.

 

Track listing

Side one
  1. "Just a Little Lovin'" (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil) – 2:18
  2. "So Much Love" (Gerry Goffin, Carole King) – 3:31
  3. "Son of a Preacher Man" (John Hurley, Ronnie Wilkins) – 2:29
  4. "I Don't Want to Hear It Anymore" (Randy Newman) – 3:11
  5. "Don't Forget About Me" (Goffin, King) – 2:52
  6. "Breakfast in Bed" (Eddie Hinton, Donnie Fritts) – 2:57
Side two
  1. "Just One Smile" (Newman) – 2:42
  2. "The Windmills of Your Mind" (Alan and Marylin Bergman, Michel legrand) – 3:51
  3. "In the Land of Make Believe" (Burt Bacharach, Hal David) – 2:32
  4. "No Easy Way Down" (Goffin, King) – 3:11
  5. "I Can't Make It Alone" (Goffin, King) – 3:57

 

 

 

Dusty Springfield - Dusty in Memphis

UK Philips SBL 7889 stereo (1969).

Album produced by Jerry Wexler, Arif Mardin and Tom Dowd.

The vinyl record has remained in excellent condition.

Audio quality is very clear and strong throughout.

Both record centre labels are clean, unmarked, and free from tears, stains or stickers.

The record centre hole displays no signs of spindle wear.

The albums laminated cover is in excellent condition, displaying only minimal signs of waer.

The album cover has a strong, undamaged spine, displaying very clear, printed script.

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