Dusty Springfield – Faithful (review)

Dusty Springfield – Faithful (Real Gone Music / Atlantic) review

Dusty’s unreleased third Atlantic album – criminally unreleased for over 40 years

Dusty Springfield’s lack of success for Atlantic Records is baffling to this day.  Sure, we now consider Dusty in Memphis, her debut for the label, a soul masterpiece.  But, at the time, it was a commercial failure, tanking at a mere #99 on the Billboard Album Charts.  Her followup, A Brand New Me, fared even worse.  But, a teaming with hit producer/songwriter Jeff Barry, who co-wrote songs like “Be My Baby,” and “Da Doo Ron Ron,” sounded like just the recipe for a Springfield rebound.

Alas, it was not to be, as only a handful of songs from those sessions were released as failed singles, and the rest remained in the archives.  Real Gone Music has finally given these fantastic performances their proper due with Faithful, which compiles the 12 songs originally intended for the album, along with one non-LP single.

Don’t be fooled by the “previously unreleased” tag – these tracks are not throwaways.  In fact, many rank as some of her greatest performances.  Springfield is in fine voice throughout and Barry’s production is soulful and sympathetic.  The leadoff song, “I’ll Be Faithful,” with its earthy drums, piano and backup vocals, could’ve easily been included on Dusty in Memphis.

But, this is no carbon copy of her earlier work.  “Haunted” is spine-tingling good.  It evokes the same desperate mood of “I Heard It Though the Grapevine” – how this song wasn’t a hit is a travesty.

Springfield proves here to be the ultimate versatile vocalist – she’s vulnerable in “Someone Who Cares,” seductive in the Bread cover “Make it With You,” and strong on the surprising rocker “Natchez Trace.”  And, she lets it fly for the stunning “Love Shine Down.”  The album closes with the gospel-infused “I Found My Way Through the Darkness.”

Several of these songs were featured as bonus tracks on an out-of-print version of Dusty in Memphis several years ago.  But, here for the first time, are these great songs in their original context.  Joe Marchese pens some great liner notes that help give the history of these lost gems.  A must for any Atlantic soul fan.  —Tony Peters