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The Dusty Springfield Story (Spectrum)

Dusty Springfield

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Album Review

The title of this two-CD set — one of a plethora of Dusty Springfield compilations to have appeared since the late '80s — is a lot more ambitious than its actual content. There's not a chance that 38 songs — any 38 songs — could truly encompass the actual Dusty Springfield story, but as a marketing concept it isn't bad, linking a strong and slightly quirky body of three dozen songs with a booklet that's OK on text and a lot stronger on pictures (and the camera loved Dusty almost as much as her fans did). The track list includes three songs by her early folk-based trio the Springfields — "Island of Dreams," "Say I Won't Be There," and "Silver Threads and Golden Needles" — which show some of that group's range, and the second disc ends with four tracks from her later Sony Music catalog, which have their own virtues, even if they aren't as well known to most fans. That leaves 31 songs representing her main body of music for Philips and Atlantic, and the emphasis is clearly on her '60s output, as it's midway through the second platter before listeners get to "Son of a Preacher Man," where she redefined her sound and, arguably, reached the peak of her recording career. This anthology does have the virtue of some unpredictable programming, the hits from both sides of the Atlantic intermingled with notable album tracks and fan favorites. The latest remasterings are used, so there will be no complaints about sound quality, and for a relatively lightweight set it's a fresh twist on a library that's now one of the most heavily anthologized of any singer of her era — and that in itself is a prodigious achievement when one considers that, until the 1980s, even getting Dusty's basic albums and hits reissued from her label was like pulling teeth.


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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