Top 100 Album Review: #89 – Dusty in Memphis, Dusty Springfield (1969)

A Sweet, Tender Album.

This Sultry Blue-Eyed Soul Album hits a nice niche. 

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Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #89/100
My Rating: StarStarStar

If I were to describe this album with one musical reference, it would be Burt Bacharach: it oozes his bubble pop feel with anthems of love over bossa nova beats. However, only one song is penned by him with the rest coming from Gerry Coffin, Carol King, Randy Newman, The Bergmans, and more.

I was genuinely surprised the album grew on me. At first glance, Son of a Preacher Man was the only track I recognized, and while a certified smash, I was hoping there would be others of its ilk lurking. Instead, I found what seemed to be a bunch of middling songs. None too high, none too low, none too memorable.

After getting out of my own way, I started to really appreciate the subtle moves of the  and Springfield’s ability.

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That Hair tho.

[OVERVIEW]

In a time where location and geography meant something, Dusty returned to Memphis, TN to drop an entire album of R&B hits. There were some problems during recording since Dusty wasn’t use to working with a producing team, she felt insecure about singing soul for the same record company as the all-time greats such as Aretha Franklin, and there was no consensus on what songs to include.

The album was kind of a flop upon its release in 1969 — it barely cracked the Hot 100 Albums getting only as high as 99. Somehow, it had a resurgence in the years to come with people retrospectively changing their opinions only a few years later in the mid 70s. This ascendance didn’t stop as now people consider it one of the best albums of all time.

As a neat aside, it was during these recordings that Springfield suggested that Atlantic Records sign this new band called Led Zepplin.

[TRACK LISTING]

  1. Just A Little Lovin’ 2:15
  2. So Much Love 3:28
  3. Son Of A Preacher Man 2:19
  4. I Don’t Want To Hear It Anymore 3:06
  5. Don’t Forget About Me 2:49
  6. Breakfast In Bed 2:54
  7. Just One Smile 2:37
  8. The Windmills Of Your Mind 3:48
  9. In The Land Of Make Believe 2:28
  10. No Easy Way Down 3:08
  11. I Can’t Make It Alone 3:47

[BEST TRACK: Son of A Preacher Man]

I’ve held fast in my belief that if you want to be a top 100 album of all time, you need at least one song that is an undeniable hit. For Dusty in Memphis, the song about the preacher’s son running off with every girl who came over to their house would be the biggest hit of Springfield’s career.

The only one who could ever reach me
Was the son of a preacher man
The only boy who could ever teach me
Was the son of a preacher man

[BEST TRACK RUNNER UP: Just A Little Lovin’]

I was for certain that this beginning track was penned by Burt Bacharach/Hal David. Turns out it was written by another song writing duo of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. A strong combo of pop and soul, it harkens back to a simpler time.

This old world
Wouldn’t be half as bad
It wouldn’t be half as sad
If each and everybody in it had, yeah
Just a little lovin’

[BEST STORYTELLING: I Don’t Want to Hear it Anymore]

Written by Randy Newman, it is a unique song that actually paints a picture. The protagonist is having a relationship with one of the guys in an apartment complex where everyone knows each other’s business. Springfield laments not wanting to hear anymore about her boyfriends infidelity from her neighbors who think she can’t hear them through the thin walls in the apartments. It’s exquisite storytelling in a song format and hits every mark of lyrics, emotion, and music.

I don’t want to hear it anymore
(I don’t want to hear it)
I don’t want to hear it anymore
(Anymore)
‘Cause the talk just never ends
And the heartache soon begins
The talk is so loud
And the walls are much too thin

[BEST SONG WITH A PULSE: Don’t Forget About Me]

While the rest of the album might be a slower tempo, this is as close as Dusty comes to “jamming out.” It includes some neat guitar riffs between sections of Springfield belting out about leaving her boy.

Baby, please, just don’t forget about me, now, baby
Today I cannot borrow
A minute of your tomorrow
Don’t let it cause you sorrow
Come on baby, please
Just don’t forget about me, now, baby

[CONCLUSION]

The more I listen, the more I like it.

Other People’s Takes: 

  • Bosco’s Modern Life: “As a whole I was kind of bored with this album and can’t really say it did anything for me.”
  • 1001 Albums in 10 Years: “It’s as inoffensive as they come, the arrangements and vocals blend together, seemingly seamless, as if they were combined with very little effort.”
  • 1001 Albums You Must Hear (and Blog about) Before You Die: While it is not as soulful as I had hoped for an album titled …in Memphis, it is still very good. The lack of soul in spots really has nothing to do with Springfield, but more with the instrumental backings.”

Author: Casual But Smart

I review the top 100 books, movies, albums, and games of all time.

2 thoughts on “Top 100 Album Review: #89 – Dusty in Memphis, Dusty Springfield (1969)”

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