Dusty In Memphis [music]

You know how it’s possible to appreciate the quality of something while not actually being mad keen on it? That’s how I feel about this, possibly Dusty Springfield’s most acclaimed album. It’s not bad; I can tell it’s incredibly good at what it does – Dusty’s wonderful, strong-yet-vulnerable voice soars and whispers, roars and breaks through the 11* soul tracks – but that’s not what I’d hoped for. Made in 1969, it isn’t quite the sort of 60s I love.

The album does feature what's possibly Dusty Springfield's most famous track, 'Son of a Preacher Man'. I hadn't realised 'Breakfast in Bed' was written for Dusty either; her version's the best I've heard to date. Unlike 'The Windmills of Your Mind' which is... well, pointless, really. Noel Harrison's version is all you need. And apparently Dusty had to be coerced into singing it on this album. The producers should have trusted her instincts!

One of the things I’ve come to love about the 1960s is how it exploded with different ideas and subcultures. ‘My’ 60s will probably be very different to someone else’s 60s. Mine’s The Avengers and Motown girl groups, James Bond films, The Prisoner and chic, co-ordinated boucle suits. It’s Liz Taylor in emeralds, Nancy Sinatra in ankle boots, and everyone in Mary Quant. It’s London, it’s Liverpool. And Dusty in Memphis… despite the title and the date it was made, to me it feels like my vision of early 70s California. It’s blonde bedhead hair and golden tans in golden sunshine, denim hotpants or loose white dresses, peacock cane chairs and spider plants. Heaven to some people, and I can appreciate it from a distance, but it's not what I'm into. Does that make sense?

I listen to music while I work, because it stops me 'meerkatting' every time something noisy happens, so I'll probably listen to this album a lot more, if only to have something different going in my ears. But I doubt it'll ever become one I adore.

*19 if you include the bonus mono mixes - I've got the 2002 remaster release. There were 11 tracks on the original vinyl release, which is what I count as 'the album'.


  1. I don't get Dusty. From an American perspective she felt like country music, even if she wasn't exactly Nashville. There was better stuff around at the time and I just never got all that excited by her singing *shrug*.

  2. adding :
    Yeah, Memphis...but not Nashville. There's kind of a difference ;)

  3. Having been a child in California in the early 70's I can tell you it was more about ill fitting polyester pantsuits from Sears Roebuck, terminal sunburns (no one even heard of sunblock then), great big yellow backcombed hairdos (the bigger & yellower the better & which continued into the 80's) and George Jones, Mac Davis,Loretta Lynn & Buck Owens on the radio or 8 track tape.
    Young Bibi's outfit of choice in the early 70's was polyester hot pants, a gauzy Mexican peasant blouse or mod halter top, and cowboy boots. (High topped boots were necessary due to scorpions & rattlesnakes.) But yes, I was perpetually tanned with my long hair sunbleached to strawberry blonde from playing in the California sunshine (and I still have the sun damaged skin to show for it).

  4. I like this album because it's not typical Dusty (in my view). I don't think she sounds too American (which some singers try to do) so it kind of works for me by being a little bit different. I'm sure I read somewhere that she couldn't bear to hear the sound of her own voice so didn't listen to it during the recording process - sounds pretty good to me. I think I'm going to have to find this on vinyl!

  5. Other than Down Town I 'm not really a fan of Dusty although she wore some fab maxi dresses.
    I like mod style but for me it's a bit too regimented, perfect hair and matching shoes and handbags - I can appreciate it on others but I'm more of your hippy 1970s chick, all flow-y frocks, stompy boots and boarding the Mgic Bus overland to India in search of silver jewellery and nude sunbathing. I'm crap with house plants, though! xxx

  6. Not really a fan of Dusty, although I do like Son of a Preacher Man. I'm more of a Sandie Shaw girl. The 60s for me are Swinging London, Twiggy, Mary Quant and Vidal Sassoon. Nancy Sinatra in ankle boots will do as well! xxx

  7. I have been giving this a couple of plays, Mim and am in agreement with you. It is okay but not my favourite. A couple of the tracks are really terrible and she so struggles them. I have got a recommendation for you - Dionne Warwick sings the Burt Bacharach songbook. It is such an upbeat, sunny album. Perfect for this weather. I was always such a rubbish Goth. There are some fab Simplicity vintage dress pattern reissues from this era that you would love. :) Xx


Post a Comment

Popular Posts