Mono Mondays: Dusty Springfield, Dusty in Memphis

Monday, July 21, 2014
Mono Mondays: Dusty Springfield, Dusty in Memphis

When it comes to our Mono Monday releases, we try to offer you some great stuff, even if we sometimes lean into slightly more obscure selections, but this week’s release has been deemed a stone-cold classic by more sources that we have the space to mention.

Oh, all right, here are just a few of the folks who’ve cited Dusty Springfield’s Dusty in Memphis album as one of the best albums ever: Rolling Stone, who gave it a rave review back in ’69 and have since gone on to include it on their lists of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (#89), the 50 Coolest Records (#9), and Women in Rock: The 50 Essential Albums (#3); Entertainment Weekly, who – when it was reissued in 1999 – gave it an “A” and suggested that it “just might be one of the all-time great pop albums”; Mojo, who put it on their 100 greatest albums of all time (#92); New Musical Express, who put it on their Greatest Albums of all time, too (#54); VH-1, who put it at #58 on their 100 Greatest Albums of Rock & Roll; and illustrious rock critic Robert Christgau, who included it in what he called a Basic Record Library of the ‘60s. Oh, and it’s also in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, but after all of those plaudits, that’s probably not a huge surprise.

Initially recorded at Memphis’s American Sound Studios, Dusty in Memphis was produced by a trifecta of awesomeness – Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd, and Arif Mardin – but it took time for Springfield to get past her anxiety about being compared to others who’d recorded at the studio and to get the feel of working with outside producers. (Indeed, despite the title of the album, Springfield’s final vocals for the album were actually recorded in New York.) In the end, Dusty in Memphis was not the commercial smash that Springfield and her label, Atlantic Records, had been hoping for, but given the way that it’s come to be revered, we’d say it all worked out pretty well in the end.