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“Dusty In Memphis” at 50

John Rose | Posted on April 02, 2019

It only reached #99 on the Billboard charts, but Dusty Springfield’s “Dusty In Memphis” in now considered one of the greatest albums ever made.

Dusty Springfield’s “Dusty In Memphis” was released 50 years ago this week in 1969. She had had earlier American hits, including “Wishin’ And Hopin” (#6 in July of 1964) but her sound needed an update in the “rock” era. She signed to Atlantic Records and went to Memphis in September of 1968 to work with three legendary Atlantic producers, Jerry Wexler, Arif Mardin, and Tom Dowd. The song selection wasn’t easy, with Springfield only choosing two songs, “Son Of A Preacher Man” and “Just A Little Lovin.” Eleven tracks were finally recorded, written by the cream of 60’s songwriters, including Gerry Goffin and Carole King (four songs), Randy Newman (2 songs) and single songs from Burt Bacharach/Hal David and Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil. The biggest hit from the album was “Son Of A Preacher Man” (#10 on the Billboard charts), but the album only reached #99 on the Billboard charts. In the years since it has become a landmark in pop music. From Wikipedia: “Dusty in Memphis” has frequently been named one of the greatest albums of all-time; according to Acclaimed Music, it is the 104th most prominently ranked record on critics’ all-time lists.[24] NME named it the 54th greatest album ever in their 1993 list,[25] and in 2003, Rolling Stone ranked the record 89th on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[26] Richie Unterberger wrote in AllMusic that the album’s reputation has improved significantly over time and felt it was “deserving of its classic status”.[12] Tony Scherman from Entertainment Weekly said Dusty in Memphis was a “pure gem,” Springfield’s greatest work, and perhaps one of the greatest pop records ever recorded.” You can see for yourself, as I will be featuring the album on my show Monday, April 1st, from 12-2 PM CST at http://radio.uic.edu/.  I hope you can join me!

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