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Cameo (Remastered)

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Album Review

More than just a very excellent recording from Dusty Springfield, Cameo is one of the finest efforts from the team of Steve Barri, Dennis Lambert, and Brian Potter. Springfield reinvents Van Morrison's "Tupelo Honey," including a verse not among the enclosed lyrics nor heard on Morrison's familiar FM radio hit. What you can hear is a carefulness, not from the singer, but from the production team who worked in different degrees with the 1972 and 1975 Grass Roots. There is nothing disposable here, nothing of the throwaway nature found on portions of those Grass Roots discs. "Learn to Say Goodbye" is a masterpiece of tortured soul. Thankfully, it was included in the ABC movie of the week Say Goodbye, Maggie Cole and got some additional exposure, but for the label that brought "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night to the multi-platinum level, ABC's failure to break this potential hit is glaring. Hugo Montenegro — the man responsible for 1968's "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" theme — co-wrote this, and it is superb. While Helen Reddy was filling the airwaves with "Delta Dawn" and "Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress)," it was prime time for Dusty's "Learn to Say Goodbye" or the brilliant opening track "Who Gets Your Love" to rescue radio listeners. That Lambert and Potter piece is outdone by their "Breakin' Up a Happy Home" which follows. This is pure Philly sound, and with the help of Hal Blaine, Michael Omartian, and the everpresent Vanetta Fields and Clydie King, it is simply amazing that this album didn't get more attention. When Dusty Springfield takes on "Easy Evil" by frivolous songwriter Alan O'Day — the man who wrote "Rock & Roll Heaven" and sang "Undercover Angel" — you understand she can do no wrong here. The production and the performance is top notch. "Mama's Little Girl" sounds like it inspired Gamble & Huff's Elton John hit "Mama Can't Buy You Love," which came six years after this, the brilliance of Gamble and Huff clearly influencing Steve Barri and company. The choice of material is wonderful; David Gates' "The Other Side of Life" shows how a song of his can blossom outside of the confines of his hit group, Bread. All 12 titles are sublime pop, some of the best Lambert and Potter you'll find anywhere. What a hook they wrote for this artist with "Comin' and Goin'," and what heart! It moves and grooves like one of those album tracks you wish was beat into your head on a daily basis by Top 40 radio. Ashford & Simpson can be very proud of "I Just Wanna Be There"; Springfield just claims the tune as her own, with horns and backing vocals creating the wave for her magical voice to ride. Audiences can get caught up in the hit records of an artist, and often they fail to seek out the material they never got familiar with. Universal's Hip-O label has re-released Cameo under the new title Beautiful Soul with additional tracks. It hopefully will get people to hear Dusty Springfield take Willie Hutchison's "Who Could Be Loving You Other Than Me" to another realm. Just a wonderful, wonderful record.

Biography

Born: 16 April 1939 in Hampstead, London, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Britain's greatest pop diva, Dusty Springfield was also the finest white soul singer of her era, a performer of remarkable emotional resonance whose body of work spans the decades and their attendant musical transformations with a consistency and purity unmatched by any of her contemporaries; though a camp icon of glamorous excess in her towering beehive hairdo and panda-eye black mascara, the sultry intimacy and heartbreaking urgency of Springfield's voice transcended image and fashion, embracing...
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