Sometimes albums are released that, on initial listen, are disregarded by fans and industry alike and destined for the bargain bins almost as quickly as they are made. Dusty Springfield’s ‘Dusty In Memphis’ recorded in 1969 and released on Atlantic Records featuring the legendary session band the Memphis Cats, is one such record. Thank god for the likes of music critic Robert Christgau who, in 1973 discovered the album calling it the “all-time rock era torch record.” It’s since gone on to be acclaimed as one of the greatest albums of all time and even inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2001.
Hittng a bit of a flat spot in her pop career, Springfield sought to reignite her passion for music by heading to Memphis to record an authentic soul record. Pulling together a crack team of producers and musicians – including Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd and backing group The Sweet Inspirations – Springfield produced an album that is as close to perfect as you can find. Tracks like ‘Son Of A Preacher Man’, ‘No Easy Way Down’, even the much-recorded ‘The Windmills Of Your Mind’ are quintessential pop nuggets that defy the passing of time, eloquent, sophisticated three-minute bundles of soul cleansing joy. This is a record that should never be too far from your deck and can be reached for at all those times in life where emotion runs high and you need a life-affirming reboot.
To think that this masterpiece was so poorly received defies both logic and any sense of reality. To be fair even Springfield herself wasn’t one hundred percent convinced of it’s genius thinking that she would be compared unfavorably with the real soul giants of the time. She needn’t have worried. Dusty In Memphis, like Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue’ or Carole King’s ‘Tapestry’ have made a footprint so deep in the sands of popular music that even fifty years of industry trends, fashion and fads have been unable to wash away. Not only a timeless masterpiece, this is an album that defines how pop records should be made.