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Colette’s Corner: A Birthday Contribution

14 Jul

That’s right. Today is Colette’s Birthday, so a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Ms. C.

In addition to reflecting on her birthday, Colette has also been reflecting on the late, great Dusty Springfield. A soul icon, I always considered Dusty a bit of a white-bread Janis Joplin — and I mean that in a good way.

She’s worshipped in England, and a soul queen for many in other nations. Once you hear that tender, sultry, bluesy sound of her unique voice, you just want more of it.

The personification of blue-eyed soul, Dusty Springfield was a passionate devotee of Black American music, with a thrilling set of pipes. She came up in the ’60s with her family band, The Springfields, then quickly hit the charts with a string of solo hits. The many wonderful songs she introduced are matched by her covers of a big sampling of the greatest pop/r & b tunes of the 1960s and ’70s.

Though she died fairly young, at age 59, after a lengthy bout with breast cancer, Dusty left behind a slew of albums. And aficienados can be grateful for the tremendous cache of videos of her live performances, thanks to fans collecting numbers from the popular TV musical variety shows she hosted in England. She was also among the first people to introduce British TV audiences to the glories of Motown, by hosting the “Ready, Steady, Go” series, “The Sound of Motown.” (The whole thing is available on Youtube, and it is fabulous.)

Recently the American singer Shelby Lynne recorded a lovely tribute disc of Dusty tunes, titled “Just a Little Lovin.” And in the wake of that release it’s great to share some of Dusty’s finest performances and those of her colleagues/acolytes. (If you like’em, more will come later — including some smashing duets.)

Let’s start with one of Dusty’s first major hits:

This boppin’ little tune by Phil Spector has a melody I can’t get out of my head. It’s a total delight, and a major fave in Dusty’s repertoire. Fashion note: Dusty loved big blonde ‘dos, heavy Cleopatra-style eye makeup, and very glam, sparkling duds. But if she often had a plastic-fantastic look, her bubbly personality and terrific musicality were totally for real:

— “I Only Want to Be with You”

Here’s Shelby Lynne’s charming bossa nova-style take on the same song:

— “I Only Want to Be With You”

Here is another great Dusty hit, performed on the “Sound of Motown” show with the fantab Martha Reeves and the Vandellas.

— “Wishin’ and Hopin'” with Martha Reeves and Vandellas

This song is perhaps my favorite female/male-duet song ever. I love the Carly Simon/James Taylor version, the gritty Inezz & Charles Fox original. But even though I don’t know (or care) much about the band she’s performing with (The Echos) the way Dusty tears into this just slays me:

— “Mockingbird”

Among Dusty’s many, many cover gems, give a listen to her take on a little Herman’s Hermits ditty that she turns into a kick-butt soul tune. Sing it sister! (sorry for bad visuals, but the sound is swell):

-“Can’t You Hear My Heart Beat”

Even when drenched in musical melodrama and soapy strings, Dusty’s great voice rang through. This is one of them big ‘ol, schmaltzy love songs from the early 1960s, a huge hit for Dusty — and a challenge for most singers, including quite a few American Idol contesants who’ve botched it. Dusty’s peerless original:

— “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”

Here is a bit of Shelby Lynne’s poignant version of the same song:

— “You Don’t Have to Say Love Me”

Here’s one of the choicest of Dusty hits, on a tune that Aretha (stupidly, in my book) passed on. Recorded on her great album recorded in Muscle Shoals, “Dusty in Memphis,” it tells such a poignant story. (Eat your heart out, Joss Stone…..)

— “Son of a Preacher Man”

Aretha recorded “Preacher Man” later, with predictably awesome results:

Probably the song most associated with Dusty is this ultra-seductive Burt Bacharach tune. I first heard it on the soundtrack of the James Bond flick, “Casino Royale,” and it went right into my musical bloodstream:

— “The Look of Love”

I’ll end this set with a rare clip of Dusty singing an Anthony Newley song, from his Broadway musical “The Roar of the Greaspaint, the Smell of the Crowd.” This is Dusty picking up on the roots of black music, jubilant in her understanding of its passion, and backed up by three great backup singers:

— “Gonna Build a Mountain”

Thanks for a great look back at the great Dusty Springfield, Colette….and a very Happy Birthday to You!

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9 responses to “Colette’s Corner: A Birthday Contribution

  1. Shrewspeaks

    July 15, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    First…Happy Birthday Colette!!!

    Second…DUSTY! Ah Dusty…Dusty, Dusty, Dusty. To me Dusty was the real first blue Eyed Soul singer. She had the chops to sing songs that only Janis or an Arthea could step up and tackle. She was polished, frosty, fashionable package that snuck in sultry pleadings to the masses. Like Sam Cooke, she had an undercurrent of sexual power wrapped up in a neat and tidy bow for the masses. Yowza!

     
  2. Shrewspeaks

    July 15, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Can you tell someone interupted me at work while I was posting this? Posting this?

     
  3. Colette

    July 15, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    thanks for tuning in Shrew! and the birthday wishes!

    I love me lots of Dusty, especially these cuts…..And your comparison with Sam Cooke is right on! It’s that sexiness and coolness together that really work for me.

    BTW, I’ve heard over the years several inklings that there would be a movie based on her life but nothing’s happened on that front. Same thing with another god of mine, Otis Redding — whom Dusty must have been nuts for!

     
  4. music maven

    July 15, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    The re-incarnation of Dusty Springfield?

    BTW, the woman she speaks of writing Pain In My Heart is the one and only Irma Thomas.

     
  5. shrewspeaks

    July 15, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    MM *shakes head*

     
  6. Colette

    July 16, 2008 at 12:20 am

    Very nice, the Grace Potter. Not sure I’m as wild for her as you are (yet), but she’s got soul for sure.

    Irma has a great new album! Her, accompanied by an array of wonderful piano players, including NOra Jones! Love Ms. Irma, and hope you does well with this one.

    Interesting niblet about Dusty’s masterpiece, “Dusty in Memphis,” from rollingstone.com:

    Born in London, Springfield was a great soul singer hidden inside a white British pop queen — racking up Motown-style hits such as “I Only Want to Be With You” — when Atlantic producer Jerry Wexler brought her way down South, to Memphis, to make this album. She was so intimidated by the idea of recording with session guys from her favorite Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding hits that she never sang a note there. Her vocals were overdubbed in New York. But the result was blazing soul and sexual honesty (“Breakfast in Bed,” “Son of a Preacher Man”) that transcended both race and geography.

     
  7. huckleberryfriend

    July 16, 2008 at 7:51 am

    Love Dusty. Always thought female Idol contestants should spend several hours listening to Dusty and Eva Cassidy to learn how to phrase and deliver a song.

     
  8. Colette

    July 16, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Yeah, Huck — I’m not sure if you can “learn” phrasing. It’s so innate, and it don’t mean a thing if you ain’t go that swing. But it can’t hurt to listen A LOT and CONSTANTLY to Dusty & Eva, or this lady:

     
  9. gibson les paul

    June 28, 2013 at 4:45 am

    WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for sti home

     

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