Wednesday, 29 June 2016

"Dusty In Memphis" by DUSTY SPRINGFIELD (2002 Mercury 'Expanded & Remastered' CD) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...The Soul Of A Woman..."

Few albums that arrive in your listening booth/man-lair are more endowed with legend than Dusty Springfield's 1969 Soulful Rock masterpiece - "Dusty In Memphis". But its reissue history both on VINYL and CD has been fraught with poor pressings and rumours of knackered mastertapes laden with voluminous amounts of hiss.

At last - this UK and Europe 2002 Mercury CD reissue comes clean (so to speak) with a Full Page of explanation from the hugely experienced Universal Audio Engineer GARY MOORE. Page 21 tells us that this is his third time mastering the album - chronicling what had to be done before (in discussion with Dusty) to get the best audio for this CD release.

Legendarily 'hissy' (and to the extreme on some tracks) - Moore has used the STEREO Master Tapes for "Dusty In Memphis" with original tapes supplied by Rhino/Atlantic in the USA for the MONO Single Mixes. After transfer – he’s put them through a SADIE 4 24-Bit/96K Mastering Computer and has applied CEDAR No Noise as well as T.C. ELECTRON FINALIZER - all of it routed through a YAMAHA Digital Mixing Desk. The sonic result is the best we’ve had so far. Instead of walls of noise - I'm getting a relatively silent but still coherent musical picture - albeit compromised in places because of the Noise Reduction. For sure you miss the ‘air’ around the instruments and the natural feel that gives – but I’d stress this – the results are superlative compared to say Rhino’s Dan Hersch Remaster from 1999 where he elected to leave what’s on there alone. I’d had that CD for years now and to my ears despite the integrity of the transfer - its unlistenable in some places. Not so here...

And Mercury’s disc also comes with a healthy eight bonus tracks – the A&B-sides of four US and UK 7" single-sides in MONO (mixed down from the Stereo tapes). Let's get to the details of the Preacher Man (and Woman)...

UK released 30 September 2002 (7 October 2002 in the USA) - "Dusty In Memphis" by DUSTY SPRINGFIELD On Mercury 063 297-2 (Barcode 044006329727) is a 'Remastered and Expanded' CD Edition with 8 Bonus 7" Single Mixes and plays out as follows (56:56 minutes):

1. Just A Little Lovin'
2. So Much Love
3. Son Of A Preacher Man
4. I Don't Want To Hear It Anymore
5. Don't Forget About Me
6. Breakfast In Bed
7. Just One Smile [Side 2]
8. The Windmills Of Your Mind
9. In The Land Of Make Believe
10. No Easy Way Down
11. I Can't Make It Alone
Tracks 1 to 11 are the album "Dusty In Memphis" - released 17 January 1969 in the USA on Atlantic SD 8124 and 18 April 1969 in the UK on Phillips SBL 7889. Produced by ARIF MARDIN and TOM DOWD - it peaked at No. 99 on the US LP charts but failed to chart in the UK.

BONUS TRACKS (All Mono 7" Single Mixes):
12. Son Of A Preacher Man (Mono)
13. Just A Little Lovin' (Mono)
Tracks 12 and 13 are the A&B-sides of the US 7" single released 8 November 1968 (prior to the LP) on Atlantic 2580 (peaked at No. 10).
UK release was 29 November 1968 on Philips BF 1730 (peaked at No. 9) with the B-side credited as "Just A Little Lovin' (Early In The Morning)"

14. Don't Forget About Me (Mono)
15. Breakfast In Bed (Mono)
Tracks 14 and 15 are the A&B-sides of a US 7" single released 7 February 1969 (after the album) on Atlantic 2606 (peaked at No. 64) - no UK issue.

16. I Don't Want To Hear It Anymore (Mono)
17. The Windmills Of Your Minds (Mono)
Tracks 16 and 17 are the A&B-sides of a US 7" single released 1 April 1969 on Atlantic 2623, which peaked at No. 105. However with the song "The Windmills Of Your Minds" (sung by Noel Harrison and featured in the Steve McQueen/Fay Dunaway film "The Thomas Crown Affair") having been nominated for an Academy Award (and won) - Phillips USA flipped Dusty's version and it became a No. 31 hit on the back of that publicity - no UK issue.

18. In The Land Of Make Believe (Mono)
19. So Much Love (Mono)
Tracks 18 and 19 are the A&B-sides of the fourth and final 7" single from the album - released 5 September 1969 in the USA on Atlantic 2673 (peaked at No. 113) - no UK issue.

Although this reissue hasn't got the genuinely pretty US artwork used by Rhino in their 1999 CD version (this version pops for the dull UK artwork from Philips) - the 28-page booklet is more than substantial - it's beautiful. Festooned with memorabilia photos, 7" singles, rare picture sleeves from all over the World (Europe and Japan), sheet music, colour period snaps of a dapper looking Dusty, press clippings and reviews etc. There are four essays – one from Atlantic's JERRY WEXLER (co-produced the album), 'two' more reminiscence-pieces from the album's legendary duo of Producers ARIF MARDIN and TOM DOWD - and all of it topped with a 'Foreword' from musician and uber-fan ELVIS COSTELLO. Stanley Booth's original LP Liner Notes are reproduced too and there's that note from Audio Engineer GARY MOORE on the transfers and the reasons for all that hiss. Even the all powerful "Son Of A Preacher Man" (the song most closely associated with the LP) gets a full page repro - the UK 45 on Phillips BF 1730 complete with its label bag. As I say - it's comprehensive and crammed full of Dusty goodies.

Proceedings open with a Barry Mann/Cynthia Weill tune - the upbeat and early-in-the-morning sunshine of "Just A Little Lovin'" - a song that sounds more Bacharach and David that Mann and Weill (but in a good way). I had the 1999 Rhino CD and it was hissy - here the song is prevalent and not the tapes (Nice job done). "So Much Love" is the first of four Carole King/Jerry Goffin songs - the other three being "Don't Forget About Me", "No Easy Way Down" and "I Can't Make It Alone".  By the time the Funk-Soul-Rock of "Son Of A Preacher Man" arrives you also begin to notice one of the album’s subtle secret weapons – the Backing Vocals of The Sweet Inspirations (headed up by Whitney's mum Cissy Houston). They lift the stunning "Preacher Man" and add an accusing spoken line to the hurting Randy Newman song "I Don't Want To Hear It Anymore" when they mimic Dusty's lyrics "...he wasn't thinking of her today!" They come in at the end of the song too adding Soul class to an already winning melody. The pen of Randy Newman also provided “Just One Smile” while Michel LeGrand wrote the “Thomas Crown Affair” song and general hippy anthem – “The Windmills Of Your Mind”.

It's amazing to hear how 'clean' the transfer of "Breakfast In Bed" is - a wickedly groovy song written by Southern Soul Boy heroes Donnie Fritts and Eddie Hinton. The same applies to the Acoustic Guitar beginning of "Just One Smile" - another Randy Newman beauty. Although it's deemed a classic by some "The Windmills Of Your Mind" has always felt ever so slightly cheesy to me. Better is the fabulous keyboard Soul of "No Easy Way Down" - as lovely a song as she's ever sung. It swoops and swoons and genuinely carries you along with it - The Sweet Inspirations adding tasty touches as the brass and strings sing. The 7" single mixes are very cool fan pleasures and in Mono give a more defined punch in places.

Although "Dusty In Memphis" is considered by so many to be a Pop masterpiece – on listening to its entirety in 2016 – I hear a 'Soul' record – deep, luxurious and sexy after all these years.

"Don't Forget About Me" - Dusty Springfield begs on the Gerry Goffin/Carole King pleader. 
On the strength of this album alone...that's not likely any time soon...

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