A GIRL CALLED DUSTY...
(16th April 1939 - 2nd March 1999)
DUSTY SPRINGFIELD was the White Soul Voice
of 60’s Mod-Pop, then the seventies lost Diva who
crossed over into the eighties via a ‘Scandal’-ous
Pet Shop Boys connection. But must she be
remembered primarily as a Gay icon...?
Promotion of her final album – ‘A Very Fine Love’, was disrupted by the initial diagnosis of her breast cancer at London’s Marsden Hospital in 1994. There was surgery, followed by months of gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy, after which she was declared clear. But by mid-1996 the cancer returned. Further treatment failed. In a last interview she told ‘Daily Mail’ writer Sarah Oliver ‘my family was from Ireland, and I believe the Irish fighter is better than the person who feels victimised. Why me? Why not?’ Her best work might have been done as long ago as the sixties – with an essential add-on in the late eighties, and although she was out-of-sync with much of the time between, Dusty Springfield never lost her uniqueness. Her myth of the great lost artist persisted, and will persist. Cliff Richard once called her ‘the white negress’. PP Arnold confided to Dusty’s biographer Lucy O’Brien that ‘she was the Soul singer. Out of all the girls – Cilla Black, Lulu, Sandie Shaw – it was Dusty doin’ it for me. She made me feel it.’ While Mary Wells, no less, wrote on a Dusty album sleeve that ‘no other white person ever sounded so coloured. It’s frightening!’ She leaves a life-story that’s a gift for those who seek to trivialise isolation and aloneness into camp Diva theatricality. But it’s wrong to remember Dusty as a colour-by-numbers Panda-eyed make-up chart for overweight Drag Queens. Sincere as such tributes may be, she deserves more.
Remember her for her voice.
‘Dusty’ was born Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien in West Hampstead, London (16th April 1939) into a second-generation expatriate Irish-Scots family, the daughter of Gerard – a tax accountant and Kay, a mother destined to die of lung-cancer. Within this unhappy marriage Dusty – a ‘plain, dumpy and bespectacled girl’, was educated at St Bernard’s Convent, High Wycombe and St Anne’s Convent High School, Ealing, where – according to legend, she listened to Bessie Smith records and got herself banned by the Nuns from performing a hip ‘erotic’ version of “St Louis Blues”. By age sixteen she’d begun working at a record shop, then switched to a position with a large ‘Are You Being Served’-style Department store, while kitchen jam-sessions at home graduated to family musical evenings in a front-room furnished with primitive built-in amp and microphone. Until, after answering a trade-press small-ad in ‘The Stage’ she endured her first near-encounter with fame in a brief and unsatisfactory stint singing close-harmony with The Lana Sisters. She made her pro stage debut with them at the Savoy Cinema in Lincoln in 1958, then made her vinyl debut for the Fontana label, appearing on BBC-TV’s ‘Drumbeat’ with Adam Faith, and on ‘6:5 Special’ promoting the ‘Sisters’ cover of the abysmal novelty song “Seven Little Girls Sitting On The Back Seat”. Rival Popsters the Avons scored the hit version – leaving it to Timmy Mallett to do the sad nineties revamp.
Meanwhile, infected by older brother Dionysius’ enthusiasm for Folk and Latin American rhythms, she learned guitar and began playing a local Folk Club. Dion already played there as a duo with friend Tim Field. So inevitably, they recruited her too. Dion became ‘Tom Springfield’, she became ‘Dusty Springfield’ – and collectively, as the Springfields they swiftly charted with “Bambino” – an old Neapolitan carol adapted by Tom. Tim Field was soon replaced by Mike Longhurst-Pickworth (aka Mike Hurst), and as the title of their album ‘Kinda Folksy’ indicates the resulting sound was a soft-Pop commercial take on traditional music. They wore neat suits with Dusty in sensible flared skirts and unobtrusive make-up, ideally suited to cosy old black-&-white BBC-TV. Tom astutely rewrote “Au Clair De La Lune” into hit “Say I won’t Be There” and went on to write “Island Of Dreams” which took the Springfields soaring into the Top Ten on Dusty’s yearning vocals. Before the inevitable split the Springfields had become pre-Beatles ‘New Musical Express’ poll winners, and one of the earliest British acts to record in Nashville, doing sessions there to produce the heavily countrified “Silver Threads And Golden Needles” which hit both the US Pop and Country Top 20’s. Later, following the demise of the Springfields, Tom would go on to write what he termed his ‘LCD’ (Lowest Common Denominator)-songs such as “Georgy Girl”, “A World Of Our Own” and “The Carnival Is Over” – all no.1’s for the Seekers (operating from a near-Springfields blueprint). He also wrote “Losing You” for Dusty (a no.9 hit in October 1964), plus “O Holy Child”, her now-rare limited-edition charity single. He did production work for Timi Yuro, Jose Feliciano – and Dusty, while she reciprocated by contributing sleeve-notes to his solo LP ‘Sun Songs’ (1968), while his next album ‘Love’s Philosophy’ (1969), is note-worthy primarily for Dusty’s superb guest performance on “Morning Please Don’t Come”. Mike Hurst, meanwhile, graduated to ‘discovering’ and managing Cat Stevens... and then (Doh!) Showaddywaddy.
While Dusty’s first solo single – “I Only Want To Be With You” was the first record to be performed (as in lip-synched!) on the first ever edition of BBC’s new ‘Top Of The Pops’ show. Charting a few positions below the Beatles “I Want To Hold Your Hand”, it was an instant irresistible hit, and the first of a run of classics that would see her clear through to the end of the decade. The Springfields had given her a name, and a polite media presence. But she wanted more. ‘Be miserable, or become someone else’ she decided. So she re-invented herself into the Dusty ‘look’ – a dream-factory of peroxide-blonde back-combed beehive bouffant hair, and elaborate black bruise-smudged eye-shadow. She re-booted her career, powered up her vocal style, and achieved more than she could ever have believed possible. She once confided to an interviewer ‘it’s marvellous to be popular, but foolish to think it will last’. To brother Tom, such reticence was absurd, ‘no, the only person who had any doubts about Dusty... was Dusty!’
It’s a fact frequently over-looked that teenage girls bought a disproportionately huge percentage of 1960’s Pop product. The theory ran that they fantasised romance with Paul McCartney, but when their real-life love-lives went awry and they needed some girly-bonding commiseration, they sought solace in languid heartbreak at 45rpm. Hence girl singers were programmed on a diet of tears. “Anyone Who Had A Heart”, “Always Something There To Remind Me”... and Dusty did her share. Few Sixties hits retrospectives get far without “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” – the ultimate in submissive self-abasing grovel-Pop melodrama lushly wrapped in the frenetic sawing strings of Ivor Raymonde’s Italianate orchestration. It’s consummate sob-stuff, and a natural for every ‘Heartbeat’-style nostalgia soundtrack, although the lyrics were famously jotted down casually in the back of a taxi by Simon Napier-Bell, who later used it as the title for his kiss-&-tell autobiography. Yet Dusty could take such throw-away heartbreak and invest it with a beguiling and passionate intensity, making it faultlessly heart-rending, each breath living on the very edge of emotion. While for me the poised frozen crescendo’s of “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” or the breath-catching “I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten” are better still, near-transcendental moments that never fail to get me every time.
They were Pop hits. But they weave darkly tragic spells of deep longings and repressed fragile desires. But her essential instincts now lay more with Motown, Soul and R&B than they did with teeny-Pop. Listen to the rhythmic propulsion of “In The Middle Of Nowhere” or “Little By Little” for prime slices of UK Detroit at its best, snap handclap-driven rhythms punching out superbly assured vocals closer in spirit to the Vandellas or the Supremes than to pretty much anything else around at the time. Dusty had the strength and guts to equal the very finest of American black music imports, drawing on the likes of Madeleine Bell, Doris Troy, and Lesley Duncan for vocal back-up. For when she leaned on the blues, it leaned right back at her. And she had an emotional maturity to interpret the songs with a greater sophistication than any of her Beat Girl contemporaries. ‘I was struggling to establish something in England that hadn’t been done before’ she explained, ‘to use those musical influences I could hear in my head.’
As Lucy O’Brien’s book tells it, ‘youth Mod culture came to a head in the sixties – with its stringent attention to fashion, Motown and television Pop programmes, and Dusty Springfield, panda-eyed and urbane, emerged as Queen Bee’ (‘Dusty’ by Lucy O’Brien, Macmillan Books, April 1999). In March 1965 she even got to host a groundbreaking Motown TV Special (through Rediffusion) showcasing the Supremes and Martha Reeves, plus the Miracles, Temptations and Stevie Wonder, providing a first-opportunity for many European audiences to see such raw new American R&B genius. Meanwhile, as an essential ingredient of the sixties Style-Mafia Dusty became a fixture on ITV’s cult ‘Ready Steady Go’, trading fashion-tips with Cathy McGowan and Sandie Shaw, while ‘Rave’ magazine – the Mod Bible, tried to manufacture a romance between her and Gene Pitney. And sure, she could do the gossip-column stuff, the cheesy showbizzy duets with Cilla or Tom Jones on TV Variety shows, or open her own series (18th August 1966) with a guesting Dudley Moore, while throwing in her natural talent for ‘Goonish’ humour and comedy voices as a bonus. But she could also interpret Burt Bacharach or Carole King songs with a fine and flawless sensitivity indebted, perhaps, to Dionne Warwick, but never less than her own uniquely personal styling. “Wishin’ And Hopin’” – an American charts hit for Dusty (no.6 in November 1964), or “The Look Of Love” done for the soundtrack of the James Bond spoof-movie ‘Casino Royale’ (1967), show her doing breathy-Bacharach as good as it would ever get. And while the Byrds do a fine version of Carole King’s “Going Back”, Dusty does it better. Elvis later charted with “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me”. UB40 & Chrissie Hynde also high-charted Dusty’s ‘...In Memphis’ track “Breakfast In Bed”. Then both the Bay City Rollers and Annie Lennox (as The Tourists) took “I Only Want To Be With You” back into the Top Ten. And David Cassidy mangled “How Can I Be Sure”. But Dusty did them all first. And Dusty does them better.
Then, as the sixties ended – finally free of a contract with Philips that had endured since the Springfields first signing, she inked with the legendary Atlantic label and travelled to Memphis to record at Chip Moman’s American Group studios with Aretha Franklin’s production team of Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd and Arif Mardin, plus the cream of Southern Stax/Atlantic musicians. For Dusty it was a career peak. An ambition achieved. And the sessions for ‘Dusty In Memphis’ (March 1969) flowed pure and natural, with few re-takes or overdubs. They were wrapped up in less than a week, gliding on smooth southern funk, glistening rhythms perfectly adapted to her sinuous vocals. The results are now critically-rated her finest-ever album, including “Son Of A Preacher Man” most usually quoted as her best-ever single. Yet at the time it was her first album not to chart, while the single barely scraped the bottom of the twenty.
It was only then that her certainty faltered, the doubts resumed, and she seemed to lose direction. The hits stopped.
But Dusty never fell. Instead, she opted out. The problem was how to opt back in again. She quit – ‘bored with Britain’, just as ‘New Musical Express’s Keith Altham was hailing her ‘this country’s unchallenged finest female vocalist’. And sure, Cher and Madonna are now able to ride the changes with apparent ease. But the music industry was less sympathetic to strong female ambition back then. And she’d never been easy. Dusty rewrote rules, she didn’t bend to them. She was expelled from South Africa for refusing to play to segregated audiences. She headlined a tempestuous feuding fist-fighting American tour with jazz drummer Buddy Rich. And now she was frustrated with petty-parochial showbiz formula-restrictions that offered only more ‘Talk Of The Town’ seasons, Pantomime, and the long-term career-prospect of eventually perhaps, hosting something like ‘Blind Date’. That was not for Dusty. Her obvious way forward had been ‘Dusty In Memphis’, an evolution both organic and natural where new intercepts old with immaculate precision, but when that proved commercially unacceptable, where were the alternatives...? She had no precedents. No role models. So she simply became mythic.
The following album, ‘From Dusty With Love’ (April 1970) is a fine example of early seventies soft and mellow saccharine-sprinkled soul, recorded in Philadelphia’s Sigma Sound Studios with a Philly-Soul writer/production dream-team of Thom Bell, Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff. And it spawned a lovely single in “A Brand New Me” (the US album title). But it failed to ignite the interest it deserved – Pop had already moved on, and the album arrived around the time Dusty was finally and decisively quitting Europe to live at ground-zero visibility in Los Angeles. And although she subsequently faded from view – her reputation did not. Her new reclusive life-style of self-imposed exile reduced her to a snooze-inducing soundbite minimalism obscured by a haze of drink and drugs binges. Stories of her long-suspected bisexuality, or lebianism also filtered through, initially leaked in veiled admissions to a London ‘Evening Standard’ interviewer. They could have provided the kind of frisson that Madonna, Grace Jones or Bowie use to manipulate intrigue and tantalise, but they were less accepting times, it might be OK for KD Lang or Melissa Etheridge, but Dusty’s honesty was messing with shared generational memories. And – in a career doldrums of depression and weight problems, it merely seemed further evidence of a once-great artist lost in confusion. There were stories of back-up vocal sessions for the likes of Anne Murray, close liaisons with tennis player Bille Jean King, and a variety of temporary contracts – to Mercury, 20th Century, Dunhill, Allegiance (resulting in a duo single with Spencer Davis of Soul standard “Private Number”), Casablanca (Donna Summers label, producing an initially US-only Dance album ‘White Heat’, December 1982) – and even Peter Stringfellow’s short-lived Hippodrome label.
...until she was ‘re-discovered’, if that’s the word? by the late-1980’s. “Son Of A Preacher Man” – undervalued and misunderstood at the time of its release, finally found its audience as part of Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Pulp Fiction’ (1994). While she arrived back in both the US and European Top Three’s with her subdued, understated, but effective contribution to Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant’s “What Have I Done To Deserve This”. The unlikely pairing of effete electro-Dance duo and lost Diva icon oddly providing Dusty with her most sensitive and sympathetic collaborators since the Wally Stott or Peter Knight orchestrations of the 1960’s. It led inexorably to “Nothing Has Been Proved” – with Dusty as a perfectly apt choice to theme-song the movie-story of sixties sex-celebrity Christine Keeler (Joanne Whalley) – a Monica Lewinsky to politician John Profumo’s Clinton, in ‘Scandal’ (March 1989). It was a return emphatically vindicated by her powerful appearance with the Pet Shop Boys at the BPI awards bash at the Albert Hall while a third single, “In Private”, was hitting a high of no.14 in December 1989... she even moved decisively back to England as her career renaissance accelerated. First to live in a converted granary in Oxfordshire, but then, as the cancer that would kill her was declared untreatable, she finalised a settlement with Prudential Insurance for £6.25 million for the rights to her 275-song back-catalogue, and used it to move to the even greater seclusion of a secretive Thameside mansion circled by high turn-of-the-century walls.
Now, I close my eyes and count to ten... and Dusty is dead. Her life a gift for those who seek to trivialise isolation and aloneness into camp theatricality. But she deserves more.
Remember Dusty Springfield for her voice.
DUSTY ON RECORD
CHANTELLY LACE: COMPLETE SINGLES PLUS BONUS TRACKS by THE LANA SISTERS (RPM CD, May 2011) a compilation collecting all ‘A’ and ‘B’-sides issued by the Lana Sisters (Riss Chantelle, Lynne Abrams and Mary ‘Dusty’ O’Brien). A trio managed by Eve Taylor. The 1959 singles “Chimes of Arcady” c/w “Ring-A-My-Phone”, “Buzzin’” c/w “Cry, Cry Baby”, “Mister Dee-Jay” c/w “Tell Him No”, “(Seven Little Girls) Sitting in the Back Seat” c/w “Sitting on the Sidewalk” and 1960 singles “My Mother’s Eyes” c/w “You’ve Got What It Takes”, “Tintarella Di Luna (Magic Colour of the Moonlight)” c/w “Someone Loves You, Joe”, “Down South” c/w “Twosome”, (and US-only single “Down South”, but not its ‘B’-side, “A Heart Divided” with Kenny Colman). The ‘Bonus Tracks’ consist of five singles by the group relaunched as The Chantelles following Dusty’s departure, and their career-boosting appearance in the movie ‘Dateline Diamonds’ (1966) with The Small Faces and Kiki Dee
ON AN ISLAND OF DREAMS (2007, 2CD Cherry Red RETROD820) by THE SPRINGFIELDS. After leaving the Lana Sisters, Dusty joined brother Dionysius PA O’Brien in this soft-core neatly-suited Pop-Folk trio for which they renamed themselves Dusty and Tom Springfield, with Tim Field (aka Feild) – later replaced by Mike Hurst. This 47-track near-exhaustive career-overview, expands ‘The Springfields Story’ (1964, Philips BET606A-B) 25-tracks double vinyl-LP. The Springfields twelve singles, five EP’s, two LP’s and two soundtrack items (“If I Was Down And Out” and “Maracabamba” from the group’s cameo in 1963 film ‘It’s All Over Town’ with the Bachelors and The Hollies).
The Springfields LP’s were ‘Kinda Folksy!’ (1962, Philips BBL7551) with “Wimoweh Mambo”, “The Black Hills Of Dakota”, “Row Row Row”, “The Green Leaves Of Summer”, “Silver Dollar”, “Allentown Jail”, “Lonesome Traveller”, “Dear Hearts And Gentle People”, “They Took John Away”, “Eso Es El Amor”, “Two Brothers” and “Tzena Tzena Tzena”.
And ‘Folk Songs From The Hills’ (1963, Philips 632304BL) stickered ‘Recorded in Nashville’ and arranged by Bill Justin. Track-listing is “Settle Down”, “There’s A Big Wheel”, “Greenback Dollar”, “Midnight Special”, “Wabash Cannonball”, “Alone With You”, “Cottonfields”, “Foggy Mountain Top”, “Little By Little”, “Maggie”, “Darling Allalee” and “Mountain Boy”.
A 1964 ‘The Springfields Sing Again’ (Wing WL1078) was a twelve-track budget-label reissue of ‘Kinda Folksy!’, and a US album ‘Silver Threads And Golden Needles’ was made up of re-shuffled material.
The Springfields’ singles include:
“Dear John” (adapted by Tom Springfield) c/w “I Done What They Told Me To” (1961, Philips PB1145) produced by Johnny Franz, accompaniment directed by Ivor Raymonde
“Breakaway” (August 1961 – no.31, Philips BF1168)
“Bambino” (new lyrics by Tom Springfield) c/w “Star Of Hope” (November 1961 – no.16, Philips BF1178) arranged by Ivor Raymonde. Tim Field is replaced by Mike (Longhurst-Pickworth) Hurst in June 1962. Tim goes on to become Sufi writer Reshad Field.
“Silver Threads And Golden Needles” (US September 1962 – no.20, US Philips 40038)
“Dear Hearts And Gentle People” (1962)
“Gotta Travel On” (1962)
“Island Of Dreams” (Tom Springfield) c/w “The Johnson Boys” (December 1962 – no.5, Philips 326557BF), Dusty’s voice soars ‘like a bird on the wing’ on her solo verse
‘Christmas With The Springfields’ (EP, Mail-order only from ‘Woman’s Own’ P125E) with “The Twelve Days Of Christmas”, “Mary’s Boy Child”, “Away In A Manger” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”
“Say I Won’t Be There” c/w “Little Boat” (March 1963 – no.5, Philips 326577BF), adapted by Tom from a French Folk song. Perhaps with the US success of ‘Silver Threads And Golden Needles’ in mind, Dusty gives a definite American twist to ‘say I won’t be they-are’. During April the Springfields tour with Del Shannon and Johnny Tillotson
‘The Springfield’s Hit Sound’ (1963 EP, Philips BE12538) with “Say I Won’t Be There”, “Island Of Dreams”, “Little Boat” and “Silver Threads And Golden Needles”
“Come On Home” (July 1963 – no.31, Philips BF1263)
Pre-Beatles the Springfields were voted Top UK Vocal Group in the 1961 and 1962 annual ‘New Musical Express’ poll. Breaking up in October 1963 – with a final appearance on TV’s ‘Sunday Night At The London Palladium’ with Bruce Forsyth, coincidentally just as the game-changing begins. Tom went on to write or co-write – not only solo hits for Dusty, Matt Munro, the Walker Brother and Kathy Kirby, but for The Seekers, who were modeled on the Springfields’ template, for “I’ll Never Find Another You”, “A World Of Our Own”, “The Carnival Is Over”, “Walk With Me”, and their Academy-Award winning US no.1 movie-theme “Georgy Girl” (written with Jim Dale). He won ASCAP award two years running, 1967 and 1968 for Best Country Song, and produced Jose Feliciano’s debut LP. Mike Hurst went into record production, notably with Deram-era Cat Stevens, PP Arnold (“The First Cut Is The Deepest”), The Move (“Curly”), Manfred Mann (“Mighty Quinn”), post-Winwood Spencer Davis Group (LP ‘With Their New Faces On’), and later Showaddywaddy, Shakin Stevens (LP ‘You Drive Me Crazy’) and Belle And Sebastian (2005 album ‘Push Barman To Open Old Wounds’).
April 1964 – A GIRL CALLED DUSTY (Philips BL 7594 re-issued BGO BGOLP 46) produced by, and with sleeve notes by Johnny Franz, it reached no.6 on the album chart. Accompaniement directed by Ivor Raymonde. Includes “My Colouring Book”, Charlie & Inez Foxx’ “Mockingbird” and Holland-Dozier-Holland’s “When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes” (formerly by the Supremes), “Mama Said”, “You Don’t Own Me” (a 1963 Lesley Gore American hit), “Do-Re-Mi (Forget About The Do And Think About Me)”, plus three Bacharach-Davi d songs – the Gene Pitney hit “Twenty-Four Hours From Tulsa”, “Wishin’ And Hopin’” (a US-only hit single for Dusty, no.6 in July 1964) and “Anyone Who Had A Heart”. A 1997 CD reissue includes remixed versions sometimes using alternate vocal takes, plus eight bonus tracks with Arthur Alexander’s “Every Day I Have To Cry” and “He’s Got Something” a Kenny Lynch-Ian Samwell song (both from the March 1964 EP ‘I Only Want To Be With You’, Philips BF 12560) plus Holland-Dozier-Holland’s “Can I Get A Witness” (from September 1964 EP ‘Dusty’ BE 12564), plus Tom Springfield’s “Summer Is Over” (‘B’-side of “Losing You”)
October 1965 – EVERYTHING’S COMING UP DUSTY (Philips RBL 1002) recorded in Philips Stanhope Place Studios with producer Johnny Franz – also no.6 on UK album chart. The ‘NME’ review says ‘from the first exciting, swinging track in the up-beat idiom… right through this varied album, Dusty is on top form’. With Bacharach-David’s “Long After Tonight Is All Over”, two songs by Goffin-King – “Oh No Not My Baby” and “I Can’t Hear You”, Randy Newman’s “I’ve Been Wrong Before” (an April 1965 no.17 hit for Cilla Black), and Newley-Bricusse’s show-tune “Who Can I Turn To”. Issued under the title ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’ in the USA to capitalise on the single hitting no.4 in June 1966. CD reissue with eight bonus tracks in 1998 including “Here She Comes”, and “Don’t Say It Baby” – ‘B’-side of “Your Hurtin’ Kinda Love”. Dusty was voted Best International Vocalist in the 1965 ‘Melody Maker’ poll, and Top Female Singer in the ‘New Musical Express’ poll, over Cilla Black, Sandie Shaw, Petula Clark, Shirley Bassey and Lulu
Nov 1966 – GOLDEN HITS (Philips SBL 7737), reaches no.2 on UK Album Chart. Sleeve notes by Peter Jones, ‘it’s an intuitive thing, this musical understanding of Miss Springfield. She simply knows what she wants…’. Accompaniment Directed by Ivor Raymonde, Peter Knight (“Goin’ Back”), Wally Stott (“All I See Is You”). Includes
“I Only Want To Be With You” (Ivor Raymond-Mike Hawker, arranged by Ivor Raymonde, November 1963 – no.4, Philips BF1292), the first record to be performed on BBC-TV’s ‘Top Of The Pops’. The song is later a hit for Bay City Rollers (no.4, September 1976) and pre-Eurythmics group The Tourists (no.4, November 1979)
“I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” (Bacharach-David, July 1964 – no.3, Philips BF1348) reviewed in ‘Record Mirror’ as ‘in a different mood from her last two hits, it’s a slow deliberate moving ballad…’
“Losing You” (Clive Westlake-Tom Springfield, October 1964 – no.9, Philips BF1369)
“In The Middle Of Nowhere” (Verdi-Kaye, July 1965 – no.8. Philips BF1418)
“All Cried Out” (Kaye-Springer) US-only hit, no.41, October 1964
“Some Of Your Lovin’” (Goffin-King, September 1965 – no.8, Philips BF1430) with vocal backing by Madeleine Bell and Doris Troy
“Wishin’ And Hopin’’ (Bacharach-David, US July 1964 – no.6, US Philips 40207), oddly there was a UK cover version of Dusty’s US hit by the Merseybeats (no.13, July 1964)
“My Colouring Book” (J Kander-F Ebb) from ‘A Girl Called Dusty’ LP
“Little By Little” (Verdi-Kaye-Gin, January 1966 – no.17, Philips BF1466)
“You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” (March 1966 – no.1, Philips BF1482), from an Italian song (‘Io Che No Vivo Senza Ta’) by Pino Donaggio and Vito Pallavicini heard by Dusty when she participated in the ‘San Remo Song Festival’, subsequently given English lyrics by Vicki Wickham and Simon Napier-Bell. Produced by Johnny Franz, it became Dusty’s biggest hit (although not her finest record!). The song was later revived by Elvis Presley (no.9, January 1971), and – among many others, Guys And Dolls (no.5, February 1976)
“Goin’ Back” (Goffin-King, July 1966 – no.10, Philips BF1502), also a single for The Byrds
“All I See Is You” c/w “Go Ahead On” (Westlake-B Weisman, September 1966 – no.9, Philips BF1510) reviewed in ‘Record Mirror’ as ‘a class song, a big ballad, and all enhanced by a magnificent backing… an obvious massive hit…’
…but the album does not include “Stay Awhile” c/w “Something Special” (February 1964 – no.13, Philips BF1313), “Your Hurtin’ Kind Of Love” (February 1965 – no.37, Philips BF1396) or American hit “The Look Of Love” (October 1967 – no.22, US Philips 40465)! The album was followed by a couple of further singles, “I’ll Try Anything” c/w “The Corrupt Ones” (February 1967 – no.13, Philips BF1553) – reviewed in ‘Record Mirror’ as ‘up-tempo, very brisk and business-like, and every bit as good as anything Dusty has done before on singles – well, NEARLY!’, and “Give Me Time” (May 1967 – no.24, Philips BF1577)
October 1967 – WHERE AM I GOING (Philips SBL 7820) despite the fine ‘Swinging London’ cover-art, this LP only peaks at no.40, produced by Johnny Franz, except “Chained To A Memory” by Dusty herself. With Tom Springfield’s “Broken Blossoms”, Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny”, and “If You Go Away” (by Jacques Brel-Rod McKuen), “Take Me For A Little While”, “Bring Him Back” (Doc Pomos-Mort Shuman) and “Welcome Home” (by Chip Taylor). It has backing vocals by Lesley Duncan, Madeleine Bell and The Echoes. Issued in a reshuffled form in the US as ‘The Look Of Love’ after her movie-theme from James Bond spoof ‘Casino Royale’. 1998 CD reissue includes three session out-takes “Time After Time”, Goffin-King’s “Don’t Forget About Me”, and Mort Shuman-Jerry Ragovoy’s “I’ve Got A Good Thing”. Single “What’s It Gonna Be” c/w “Small Town Girl” (September 1967, Philips BF1608) reviewed in ‘Record Mirror’ as ‘a very exciting performance, with girlie group on answering phrases but it doesn’t have that instant commercial pull of many of Dusty’s’
November 1968 – DUSTY... DEFINITELY (Philips SBL 7864) peaks at no.30 on the album chart. Reviewed in ‘New Musical Express’ by brother Tom who says ‘Dusty has two or three different voices that she uses and they are getting better and better – and I’m not saying that because she is my sister!’. With “Take Another Little Piece On My Heart” (by Bert Berns-Jerry Ragovoy), Randy Newman’s “I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today”, Charles Aznavour’s “Who (Will Take My Place)?”, and two by Bacharach-David (“This Girl’s In Love With You” and “Another Night”). The 2001 expanded CD reissue includes bonus tracks “No Stranger Am I” (by Norma Tanega, ‘B’-side of my nomination for her finest-ever record, June 1968’s single “I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten” – no.4, Philips BF1682), and “The Colour Of Your Eyes” (‘B’-side of failed September 1968 single “I Will Come To You”, Philips BF1706), plus “Spooky” (‘B’-side of September 1970 single cover of Young Rascals US hit “How Can I Be Sure?” – no.36, Philips 6006-045)
March 1969 – DUSTY IN MEMPHIS (Philips SBL 7889, US Atlantic SD8214) although under-rated at the time of its release – ‘NME’ concedes ‘a very good bit of work by La Springfield’, it doesn’t even chart, this is now frequently nominated as her finest album, produced by Jerry Wexler and Arif Mardin, engineered by Tom Dowd, with four songs by Goffin/King (“So Much Love”, “Don’t Forget About Me”, “No Easy Way Down” and “I Can’t Make It Alone”), plus “Breakfast In Bed” (later a no.6 hit for UB40 With Chrissie Hynde in June 1988), plus “Windmills Of Your Mind” (movie-theme from ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’ which is a Dusty US no.31 in May 1969) and “Just A Little Lovin’” (Barry Mann-Cynthia Weil), “I Don’t Want To Hear It Anymore” (Randy Newman). Includes single “Son Of A Preacher Man” (December 1968 – no.9, Philips BF1730). The album is followed by UK single “Am I The Same Girl” c/w “Earthbound Gypsy” (September 1969 – no.43, Philips BF1811) arranged by Keith Mansfield
April 1970 – FROM DUSTY WITH LOVE (Philips SBL 7927) reaches no.35 on the album chart. Issued initially in January 1970 in the US as ‘A Brand New Me’ (on Atlantic). Recorded at Sigma Sound Studios, Philadelphia with Philly-Soul producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. Includes “Bad Case Of The Blues” and “A Brand New Me” with Gamble-Huff songs “Silly Silly Fool” (a US no.76 single in March 1970), “The Star Of My Show”, “Let’s Talk It Over”, and “Let’s Get Together Soon”. On this album, for the first time, it seems that Dusty is chasing trend-changes rather than setting them, although the ‘Melody Maker’ review says ‘Dusty’s singing and the groovy feeling of rhythmic propulsion that glows throughout the album’
Nov 1972 – SEE ALL HER FACES (Philips 6308-117) as she leaves the UK to live in Los Angeles, this is assembled from tracks from various sessions, including her final work with long-time collaborator Johnny Franz (“Girls It Ain’t Easy” and “See All Her Faces”), plus both sides of previously-issued June 1969 single “Willie And Laura Mae Jones” (Tony Joe White) c/w “That Old Sweet Roll” (Goffin-King) – recorded with Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd and Arif Mardin, as well tracks done with Jeff Barry for an aborted Atlantic album. Added to the 2002 CD reissue, “Nothing Is Forever” (‘B’-side of August 1971 single “Haunted”), plus Charles Aznavour’s “Yesterday When I Was Young”, “Girls Can’t Do What Guys Do”, Jim Webb’s “Mixed-Up Girl”, and January 1971 single “What Good Is I Love You?” written and produced by Ellie Greenwich-Mike Rashkow
May 1973 – CAMEO (Philips 6308-152, and ABC Dunhill DSX 50128 USA) produced by Steve Barri, Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter, with Van Morrison’s “Tupelo Honey” and Lambert-Potter’s “Breakin’ Up A Happy Home”, “Mama’s Little Girl”, “Comin’ And Goin’” and “Of All The Things”. The album is followed by sessions for an aborted album to be called ‘Longings’ (for Dunhill), and a final Philips UK single “What’s It Gonna Be” c/w “Bring Him Back” (6006-350, March 1974). Dusty also does studio sessions for Elton John’s June 1974 ‘Caribou’ album and can be heard on its single “The Bitch Is Back” (September 1974 – no.15). She also sings back-up on Anne Murray’s November 1975 album ‘Together’ (Capitol)
Feb 1978 – IT BEGINS AGAIN (Mercury 9109-607) – no.41. After a long gap and ‘personal problems’, a catch-up set of MoR Adult-Contemporary titles produced by Roy Thomas-Baker, with Holland-Dozier-Holland’s “A Love Like Yours” ( January 1978 single), “I’d Rather Leave While I’m In Love” (Carole Bayer Sager-Peter Allen), “Sandra” (Barry Manilow-Enoch Anderson) and “Love Me By Name” (Lesley Gore-Ellen Weston). Reviewed by Patrick Humphries as ‘it probably won’t disappoint ardent fans, but it’s unlikely to win her any fresh converts either’ (‘NME’ 4 March)
March 1979 – LIVING WITHOUT YOUR LOVE (Mercury 9109-617, and issued in January 1979 in the US as United Artists UA-LA936-H), again with top LA session-musicians, with Smokey Robinson’s “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me”, Melissa Manchester’s “Be Somebody”, “Closet Man”, “I’m Coming Home Again” plus songs by Barry Gibb-Albhy Galuten (“Save Me Save Me”) and Carole Bayer Sager-Bruce Roberts (“I’m Coming Home Again”). The ‘NME’ reviewer wails ‘why, oh why, didn’t she stay with soul? Why does she seem so lost? Maybe it’s down to her own bizarre musical tastes, maybe it’s because when you’re a forty-year old female Pop singer, there’s really nowhere to go. She’s working in the dark – no other woman singer has followed a similar career, so there’s no example to follow’ (10 March). She played poorly-received UK shows at London’s Drury Lane Theatre, although subsequent provincial dates were cancelled. She returned to LA for her ‘lost decade’, although the Mercury contract continued with single “That’s The Kind Of Love I’ve Got For You” c/w “Sandra” (Mercury DUSTY002, June 1978), and even yielded a UK no.61 single in October 1979 – the Disco-influenced “Baby Blue” (produced by David Mackay, Mercury DUSTY4), and “Your Love Still Brings Me To My Knees” (Mercury DUSTY3, January 1980). A subsequent 20th Century Fox contract results in only a one-off 1980 single “It Goes Like It Goes” (a song from the Sally Field movie ‘Norma Rae’)
December 1982 – WHITE HEAT (Casablanca NBLP7271, US only). Produced by Howard Steele, with nods at synth-Pop, includes Elvis Costello’s “Losing You (Just A Memory)” and “I Don’t Think We Could Ever Be Friends” co-written by Sting. Finally released in the UK as a 2002 CD on Mercury/Universal. There are other sporadic projects during this period, a duet with Spencer Davis of “Private Number” (the old Judy Clay-William Bell hit) in March 1984, an August 1985 single on Peter Stringfellow’s Hippodrome label, “Like Butterflies”, and she guests on Richard Carpenter’s September 1987 single “Something In Your Eyes”
1988 – THE SILVER COLLECTION (Spectrum 8341282) a 24-track greatest hits compilation based around the Sixties catalogue, including Peter Callander’s “Give Me Time”, “I’ll Try Anything”, “How Can I Be Sure”, “A Brand New Me” and “Am I The Same Girl”. It reaches no.14 on the album chart. There’s also the 21-track “Dusty Springfield: The Hits Collection’ (Spectrum, February 2000), and ‘Goin Back: The Very Best Of Dusty Springfield 1962-1994’ (June 1998) – 25-tracks including early Springfield tracks (“Say I Won’t Be There” and “Silver Threads And Golden Needles”) through to “Nothing Has Been Proved” and “In Private”
June 1990 – REPUTATION (Parlophone PCSD111) reaches no.16 on the album chart, following the success of her Pet Shop Boys collaboration on hit single “What Have I Done To Deserve This?” – no.2 in both UK and US in August 1987 (Parlophone R6163), after years of commercial neglect this album constitutes a long-overdue major career revival. Produced by Neil Tennant-Chris Lowe with Julian Mendelsohn, it includes subsequent singles “Nothing Has Been Proved” (Tennant-Lowe, February 1989 – no.16, Parlophone R6207) recorded as the soundtrack theme for the 1989 movie ‘Scandal’, “In Private” (Tennant-Lowe, December 1989 – no.14, Parlophone R6234), and “Reputation” (Brian Spence, May 1990 – no.38, Parlophone R6253), plus “Arrested By You” (Rupert Hine-Jeanette Obstoj, November 1990, Parlophone R6266). The album also includes Gerry Goffin-Carole King’s “I Want To Stay Here” and other Tennant-Lowe songs “Daydreaming” and “Occupy Your Mind”
June 1995 – A VERY FINE LOVE (Columbia CK67053) Dusty’s final studio album. Despite her come-back operating very much from London, and by now she’d quit California and moved back to London, it was produced in Nashville by Tom Shapiro with the provisional title ‘Dusty In Nashville’ – intended to echo a continuity with the concurrent critical reappraisal of ‘Dusty In Memphis’ (and maybe even full-circling her career back to the 1963 Springfields album ‘Folk Songs From The Hill’ which was stickered ‘Recorded In Nashville’). But it was considered ‘Dusty In Nashville’ would imply it was a Country album, which – as sessions continued, was obviously not the case. Hence it was simply retitled after the name of track two. It also includes Diane Warren’s “Wherever Would I Be” done as a duet with Daryl Hall (a no.44 single – June 1995, Columbia 6620592), plus final single “Roll Away” (written by Will Jennings-Marlee Lebow, no.68 – November 1995, Columbia 6623682), and “Where Is A Woman To Go?” with vocal back-up by KT Oslin and Mary Chapin Carpenter. Health problems limit the album’s promotion, resulting in disappointing sales. She played her last live show with Michael Ball in December 1995, and died of breast cancer 2 March 1999.
Published in its original form in: ‘HOT PRESS' Vol.23 no.5 (31 March 1999 - Eire)