Dusty in Memphis
Has everyone recovered from Record Store Day yet? We hope all your RSD15 dreams came true.
We’re starting a new semi-regular feature called “InStore at Lost & Found,” where we feature an album that is mostly “new” to the store, sometimes rare, and always interesting.
Recorded in Memphis at American Sound Studios, the sessions were produced by Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd, and Arif Mardin. The composers on this LP are an impressive list of Who’s Who in the pantheon of hit making songwriters (including Randy Newman, Carol King, Gerry Goffin, and Burt Bacharach, among other notables). Memphis also features background vocals from The Sweet Inspirations and the players were the Memphis Cats, led by guitarist Reggie Young and bassist Tommy Cogbill.
Rolling Stone‘s top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time puts Memphis at #89…
London-born Dusty Springfield was a great soul singer hidden inside a white British pop queen – racking up Motown-style hits such as “I Only Want to Be With You” – when Atlantic producer Jerry Wexler brought her way down South, to Memphis, to make this album. She was so intimidated by the idea of recording with session guys from her favorite Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett hits that she never actually managed to sing a note there (“I always wanted to be Aretha,” she recalled years after). Her vocals were overdubbed later, when the sessions moved to New York. But the result was blazing soul and sexual honesty (“Breakfast in Bed,” “Son of a Preacher Man”) that transcended both race and geography.
Can’t say that we wouldn’t have been intimidated, either… who wouldn’t want to be Aretha?
AllMusic Guide‘s Richie Unterberger writes:
Sometimes memories distort or inflate the quality of recordings deemed legendary, but in the case ofDusty in Memphis, the years have only strengthened its reputation. The idea of taking England’s reigning female soul queen to the home of the music she had mastered was an inspired one. The Jerry Wexler/Tom Dowd/Arif Mardin production and engineering team picked mostly perfect songs, and those that weren’t so great were salvaged by Springfield’s marvelous delivery and technique. This set has definitive numbers in “So Much Love,” “Son of a Preacher Man,” “Breakfast in Bed,” “Just One Smile,” “I Don’t Want to Hear About It Anymore,” and “Just a Little Lovin'” and three bonus tracks: an unreleased version of “What Do You Do When Love Dies,” “Willie & Laura Mae Jones” and “That Old Sweet Roll (Hi-De-Ho).” It’s truly a disc deserving of its classic status.
“Son of a Preacher Man” (listen on Spotify) is definitely one of our all time favorites.