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The Complete BBC Sessions: Dusty Springfield

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Album Review

This 22-track CD isn't exactly the "complete" group of sessions Dusty Springfield recorded for the BBC. It's just all of the ones that have survived in good sound quality; there were some others, sadly, that the radio network didn't preserve (including her first solo session in November 1963, and performances of some songs she never put on her official record releases). Fortunately, the 22 that do remain (including three she recorded in July 1962 in a pop-folk style as part of the Springfields) make for a good and lengthy disc. True, it's a little short on the prime bonuses that 1960s BBC rock comps usually offer, namely songs that were never included on standard releases. But there are a half dozen of those, all of them quality covers that suit her style, including Bobby Lewis' "Tossin' and Turnin'," Stevie Wonder's "Uptight (Everything's Alright)," Dee Dee Warwick's "We're Doing Fine," the Rascals' "Good Lovin'," Jackie Wilson's "Higher and Higher (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me)," and the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody." The other tracks include BBC renditions of some of her hits ("Wishin' and Hopin'," "Little by Little," "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me," "Son of a Preacher Man," "I Just Don't Know What to with Myself," "Little by Little"), though there are just as many lesser-known tunes from her '60s releases (including two notably different versions, oddly enough, of Betty Everett's "I Can't Hear You [No More]"). In common with many BBC releases, the arrangements and performances of the songs she also cut for records aren't too different from the studio versions; in fact, since Springfield habitually employed pretty elaborate orchestral production, they're noticeably thinner. But they're still good, and detectably different from their more familiar official counterparts. That's what you want from a BBC collection, and in some ways it's actually a more consistent listen than most of Springfield's non-best-of albums, since almost every song is a soulful pop number that suits her strengths.

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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