Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

4. Dusty SpringfieldStay Awhile/I Only Want To Be With You

If you want to pick a Dusty Springfield album, it is tricky because you are not going to get the benefit of having some of the singles. The greatest thing about Dusty Springfield was her run of singles, but pure greatest hits albums are easy to wear out and you end up wanting a little bit more. This record does it all for me. It’s from that period where she was undeniably the best singer in pop music and that includes singers from the US too.

There is a sound to this album that is rough pop and soul without it getting too purist. It was made by someone who was very serious about what she did and had a voice that I don’t think has ever been bettered. There is a desperation in the way she sings that made her a fascinating person and a person with some depth. It’s a great combination that seems to keep cropping up – where pop music is made by an interesting character.

I sometimes get a little tired of forty-somethings cataloguing American music from the 60s. It always get a little predictable and the same names crop up, like Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding. While you aren’t ever going to get around that, in this case because it is Dusty Springfield singing those songs, there is an edge to them and something more interesting.

I know it is a conceptual idea, but sometimes you want authenticity to be played with a bit. With Dusty being an intriguing, white, part-Irish woman who had completely reinvented herself in the middle of the Tin Pan Alley pop machine, she was able to put a weird slant on her music. She put another angle on songs that were already great and – put it this way – I prefer her versions to the originals.

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