Dusty Springfield
A Girl Called Dusty



by Pedro B. USER (364 Reviews)
November 25th, 2005 | 5 replies

Release Date: 1964 | Tracklist

She was appropriately known as «the white negress». She did a lot of good stuff in the early 60’s and a lot of bad stuff in the late 60’s and 70’s. She started off in a group with her brothers, then was discovered by an impresario and launched in a glorious solo career. She was, of course, Dusty Springfield, a singer who managed to both showcase a prodigious voice and keep her music choices balanced and qualitative (at least in her early career, before she started doing stuff like Son Of A Preacher-Man).

Dusty got her debut in 1964 with A Girl Called Dusty. Anyone who listens to this 12-track debut (the latest reissue includes 8 bonuses) will have a hard time believing Miss Springfield is NOT American. But the truth is, she isn’t. Even though she enjoyed great success overseas, she originally hails from Britain. However, sound-wise, she is heavily influenced by the Motown and Stax sounds of the time – her songs reek of funk and soul, as evident in the fabulous Mockingbird, among many others.

Ther first thing that one niotices, right from the get-go, is Dusty’s voice. It has range, it has power, it has versatility – notice how she snarls the verse section on Yu Don’t Own Me – and overall it would make many a Britney or Christina give up completely. However, Dusty doesn’t play in that league – fortunately for the girls, her voice is closer to that of soul singers like Aretha Franklin or even jazz divas such as Ella Fitzgerald, even though the latter’s register has very little to do with Dusty’s.

The second thing that grabs our attention is the sheer catchiness of her choruses. Almost all the songs on the album have instantly infectious chorus, and you’re bound to find yourself hopping around the living-room singing along with them – and then days later, humming them on the street. Particularly glorious examples are Mama Said, Mockingbird and Dusty’s hit Will You Love Me Tomorrow, which was made somewhat infamous by a certain scene in Police Academy… however, many other songs sport nice chorus sections and infectious vocal lines.

Which brings us to the lyrics. Without straying too far from the topical pop subjects of the time, they incorporate some genuinely clever metaphors. Of course, Dusty didn’t really write them , but props to her for knowing how to choose her material. The lyrics in these songs are meaningful and one can genuinely relate to them. For example, who could disagree with «mama said there’d be days like this, there’d be days like this my mama said»? Anyone who’s ever had a «day like this» will understand where Dusty is aiming at. Then there are songs which make use of childish metaphors such as coloring books (My Coloring Book) or the alphabet and musical scale (Do Re Mi) to convey their message – that a woman has feelings and should be treated right. I can almost hear the purists going «baaah, bollocks!» at this point, but believe me, from Miss Springfield’s mouth, it makes much more sense than from Christina Aguilera’s. Wishin’ and Hopin’ is a – slightly conservative – lesson on how to get a man, if you can’t really rely on good looks. And if you’re a male, then you’re sure to cringe at the painfully detailed description of cheating on 24 Hours From Tulsa.

All in all, then , this is a superb debut album for a superb singer. The problem is, the recent reissue makes the record run a little too long, meaning the last few songs don’t really capture our attention. Other than that, this is a nearly flawless album, and one every retro-pop, soul and funk fan should look into. Not bad, coming from a middle-class British blondie…

Recommended Tracks

Mama Said
Do Re Mi
Will You Love Me Tomorrow
Wishin’ and Hopin’

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Comments:Add a Comment 
Robert Crumb
November 25th 2005


Haven't heard this but she's alright. She definitely had quite a voice. This Message Edited On 11.25.05

November 25th 2005


She looks like Dolly Parton but without the benefits.

October 14th 2008


Album Rating: 3.0

Great review. Digging this album atm.

July 17th 2013


Album Rating: 2.5

this is a lot better than I expect actually. very impressive.

Staff Reviewer
February 21st 2024


What a voice, holy crap.

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