Hip-O's Beautiful Soul: The ABC/Dunhill Collection is an exhaustive retrospective of Dusty Springfield's early-'70s stint at Dunhill records, containing the entirety of the 1973 Cameo album, plus all the completed material from the unreleased 1974 album, Longing. After she signed to Dunhill in 1972, Springfield relocated to California to cut the material, and, appropriately these are Californian productions of their time, filled with studio pros (Larry Carlton, Hal Blaine, Bernard Purdie, Joe Venuto), a warm lush production, and soft rock, written by such songwriters as Alan O'Day, David Gattes, Melissa Manchester, and Ashford and Simpson. In other words, this is not the Dusty of Dusty in Memphis and A Brand New Me, although a cover of Van Morrison's "Tupelo Honey" has an appropriate Southern flair and Ashford & Simpson's "I Just Wanna Be There" is smoothly seductive. All this means that some fans will not warm to this and, admittedly, some of the music is a little slight, but it works on two different levels. First, it's simply a good pop artifact, evoking its era with high-class performances and classy productions, appealing to the kind of listener that finds "Learn to Say Goodbye"'s status as the theme from the ABC Movie of the Week Say Goodbye, Maggie Cole to be a virtue. More importantly, this finds Springfield exploring more adventurous material, particularly on Longing, where she tackles Janis Ian's "In the Winter" and Margie Adams' lesbian love song, "Beautiful Soul." Therefore, this compilation winds up being as a historical exercise, both for Springfield diehards and early-'70s fanatics, but it'll please both camps equally, since they'll both find its flaws somewhat charming.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine