Helpless Dancer

The Endless Note

Dusty In Memphis

The album “Dusty In Memphis” was recorded in 1968 and released in 1969. It was produced by Jerry Wexler and Arif Mardin and engineered by Tom Dowd.

Despite it’s almost legendary status now as “the greatest white soul album ever” it was far from a labour of love during the recording and was, initially at least, a commercial flop on both sides of the Atlantic.

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, as such recording an album in Memphis, Tennessee, where some notable blues musicians had grown up was to her a dream come true.

She was backed on the sessions by the back-up singers Sweet Inspirations and the instrumental band Memphis Cats, led by guitarist Reggie Young and bassist Tommy Cogbill. who had previously backed Wilson Pickett, King Curtis and Elvis Presley.

The songs were written by, among others, Gerry Goffin & Carole King, Randy Newman, and Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil.

During the sessions at American Studios in Memphis, Springfield stayed in a suite at the Holiday Inn, Rivermont, however,  none of the Dusty in Memphis vocals were actually recorded in Memphis. Springfield was used to arriving at a studio to find the backing tracks already recorded.

In Memphis she was recording in Wilson Pickett’s vocal booth with Aretha Franklin’s musicians. An obsessive soul fan, Springfield should have felt like a homecoming queen. But she hated it.

So the production moved to New York, to a studio with just the three producers present. Springfield would insist on so much backing track in her headphones that she could not hear her own vocals – heartbreaking, really, that of the four people on the planet present at the precise time that these legendary vocals were ever heard live, one of them refused to listen.

But Springfield hated this album, and it took her a year to be won round. Perhaps her own indifference was contagious: it limped to Number 99 on the US album charts, and never hit the British Top 40. Only one UK single was issued, but what a choice: ‘Son of a Preacher Man’.

The song was initially offered to Aretha Franklin to record, but at that point, she declined. Dusty Springfield went on to record it and have the hit, at which point Franklin decided to make her version.

It was Dusty Springfield’s last Top Ten hit in both the UK and the US for almost twenty years, and made the list of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Some may also remember its use in the movie, Pulp Fiction.

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 the above  “Son of a Preacher Man” and a personal favourite of mine “Just a Little Lovin'”.

Side A

  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 B

  1. “Just One Smile” (Randy Newman) – 2:42
  2. “The Windmills of Your Mind” (Alan Bergman, Marilyn 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

Bonus Track:-

“Breakfast In Bed” – Dusty Springfield”

You’ve been cryin’
Your face is a mess
Come in baby
You can dry the tears on my dress
She’s hurt you again
I can tell
Oh, I know that look so well

Don’t be shy
You’ve been here before
Pull your shoes off, lie down
And I will lock the door

And no-one has to know
You’ve come here again
Darling it will be
Like it’s always been before
Come on over here

Breakfast in bed
And a kiss or three
You don’t have to say you love me
Breakfast in bed
Nothing need be said
Ain’t no need

What’s your hurry?
Please don’t eat and run
You can let her wait, my darling
It’s been so long
Since I’ve had you here
You will come again
Darling it will be
Like it’s always been before
Hey child

Breakfast in bed
And a kiss or three
You don’t have to say you love me
Breakfast in bed
Nothing need be said

Breakfast in bed
And a kiss or three
You don’t have to say you love me
Breakfast in bed
Nothing need be said, yeah
You don’t have to

To buy Dusty In Memphis click HERE

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March 19, 2011 - Posted by | Blast from The Past, Old Music, R&B, Soul, Video |

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