Dusty Springfield

The Complete Philadelphia Sessions: A Brand New Me

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Real Gone Music again proves a godsend for Dusty Springfield fans. In 2015, they released Come for a Dream: The Complete U.K. Sessions 1970-1971 that gathered 17 tracks from From Dusty with Love (A Brand New Me's British title) and 1972's See All Her Faces. Faithful: The Lost Atlantic Album, produced by Jeff Barry, appeared a year later. While A Brand New Me has been pored over for decades by fans and critics, and all but one of these cuts have been released on various compilations, they have never been assembled complete in one volume until now.

Atlantic believed in Springfield as a soul singer. When Dusty in Memphis didn't score as high as the label had hoped, they doubled down and paired her with producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff and arranger/producer Thom Bell. While the three had worked together off and on since 1964 (Gamble and Bell since 1959), it wasn't a full-time concern until Bell left Cameo Parkway. While these sessions weren't his first arrangements in this new setting, they were nonetheless early. The ten tracks that became A Brand New Me were cut in September 1969; the remaining seven songs date from February 1970, for what was proposed as another album -- and was also abandoned. Those five extra songs include two Bell compositions -- the emotionally resonant manifesto "I Wanna Be a Free Girl" and the sweeping, string- and horn-laden psychedelic soul of "Something for Nothing." The latter arrangement was so tricky it left Springfield (and every singer who tried it after her) behind. She was unhappy with her performance but it wasn't her fault; even Bell admitted it: the shifting time signatures and dynamics are so dizzying it's difficult for a vocalist to focus on the lyric hooks. (The track was later cut as an instrumental by MFSB.) The bluesy soul of "Summer Love" was another track she was unhappy with, but her perception was incorrect. The ingenious chart pairs her voice with a gutbucket acoustic 12-string lead guitar, it's flawless, and adds a pillar for her vocal. She re-recorded it and two other cuts here -- the souled-out, surf guitar-drenched "Cherished" and the buoyant "The Richest Girl Alive" back in the U.K. -- they later surfaced on the U.K. compilation Goin' Back: The Definitive Dusty Springfield. The original versions are far superior, proving time and again that Springfield was unusually critical of herself. The rhythmically sophisticated "Goodbye" is a different song than one that appeared on Come for a Dream: The U.K. Sessions 1970-1971, which utilized a J.S. Bach motif and Springfield's partner Norma Tanega's lyrics. Closer "Sweet Charlie" is a tender, summery Philly soul love song that was thought to be lost in a fire; it makes its first -- and very welcome -- appearance here. The Complete Philadelphia Sessions offers stellar sound and excellent liner notes. This is an essential purchase for any Springfield fan, as well as a welcome introduction for newcomers.

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