Riddle Me List: Happy Birthday, Dusty Springfield!

Friday, April 16, 2010

It's getting 'dusty' in here...well, Dusty Springfield that is. Asking me who my all-time favorite singer is a cruel inquiry, as the rankings vary from day-to-day (even minute to minute) and since there are so many artists that I listen to it's quite Russian Roulette...it's nerve racking to decide their rank numbers. I will attest that Dusty Springfield is no doubt at the tippy top of the list of singers that can do no wrong to me, and it's all due to how she lays her commanding contralto over musical material. Whether she sung the Burt Bachcarach catalog or went all Pet Shop Boys, Dusty made the songs events as her voice oozed about like honey, making singing seemed like such a simple task. As one of blue-eyed soul's legends (even though she hated the term), Dusty Springfield was the finest in her field. Her life story is part sweet and of course bitter, same for her music, and her catalog is one that any Soul music fan should be at least familiar with. But that is just my little opinion. 

Dusty Springfield has released a plethora of singles and albums during her three and a half decades of song, so it's a bit complex for me to compile and scrutinize a list of her ultimate best songs, but I picked a handful of my Dusty favorites (11 to be exact) to celebrate the fact that today would've been the singer's 71th birthday. So let's celebrate one of music's major talents by soaking in some of her best, and if you have a Dusty favorite, join in on the conversation after the cut. 

Spooky (1968)
Dig on that dusty shuffle groove.

The Look of Love (1967)
So many people have done this sultry number, and while Patti Austin, Issac Hayes and Anita Baker all have great versions, you have to add Dusty's to the list as well. One of my favorite Bachcarach numbers, and one of the essential Bond themes this side of Bassey.

I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself (1964)
I love the little horns in this...as well as the booming timpani drums and strings.

Just A Little Lovin' (1969)
The song said it best: It beats a cup of coffee, for starting out the day. Early morning delight?

All Cried Out (1964)
This song always seemed like a Ronettes or even a Supremes number, but it is really all Dusty. Imagine swaying slowly in your go-go boots to this.

How Can I Be Sure (1967)
The build-up of this song is quite lush, and I really like how Dusty's voice begins to lift and boom over the instrumentation as the song accumulates.  

Sunny (1967)
A song that has been covered just as much as "Mac Arthur Park", but Dusty's swinging jazz meets big band rendition is the one to beat. 

Son of a Preacher Man (1969)
I kind of stopped associating this song with Aretha Franklin after I heard Dusty sing it (she was the original vocalist to begin with). Sorry, Aretha.

Nothing Has Been Proved (1989)
The icy instrumentation and arrangement is among one of The Pet Shop Boys finest works, and it made for a great comeback number for Dusty. Eerie and seductive in one go.

The Windmills Of Your Mind (1969)
First heard in The Thomas Crown Affair, and later given the Dusty treatment on her classic, Dusty In Memphis record. A very mesmerizing listen.

I Close My Eyes and Count To Ten (1968)
The tempo change into the chorus is really divine.

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