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Dusty Springfield

Goin’ Back: The Definitive Collection (UMC)

If ever a collection was better named, I’ve yet to clap eyes (or ears) on it. For your money (and it ain’t cheap, pop pickers) you pick up 92 tracks on four CDs as well as 93 performances on three DVDs, four art prints, two hardback books featuring tributes from Tom Jones, Carole King, Smokey Robinson, Burt Bacharach etc and a canvas print. It’s all lavishly housed in a devilishly handsome boxed set.

A few more numbers… 22 of the tracks are previously unreleased, 10 of them only came out in the States and five are making their debut on CD.

In other words, there’s a lot for the Dusty-phile to get excited about.

As ever with these packages though, it’s the music that lies at the heart of it all. Everything else is just added value, to use modern marketing parlance.

The tracks are neatly divided into easily digestible themes beginning, of course, with The Hits, which opens with the sugar pop rush of I Only Want To Be With You – the perfect black wax seven-inch drama. There aren’t many holes in this line up – the almost Gothic theatrics of You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me and I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself can still stir the hairs on the back of the neck; the elegant Goin’ Back and How Can I Be Sure, the soul stomp of What’s It Gonna Be?, the smokin’ Son of a Preacher Man and the electro disco stomp of What Have I Done To Deserve This?

Considering Dusty started out as a squeaky showbiz poppet gamely decorating The Springfields’ folk-pop with her reedy voice, that she turned into a singer of such magnitude while being forced to work mainly with British session players and musical directors says much about her innate understanding of the R&B music she sought to emulate. Although very much from the mainstream showbiz tradition, she really did have to earn her place alongside Aretha and the soul sisters.

Rarities rounds up a host of oddments. Only the most dedicated will be too excited about the teenage Dusty in a duet with Peter Miles on Can’t We Be Friends, but her ballsy reworking of Can I Get A Witness? is worth the price of admission alone. Her version of All the King’s Horses (from the Dusty In Memphis sessions) is a genuine lost

gem and the new mixes by Tris Penna of Goin’ Back and The Look of Love, while at first seemingly superfluous, actually earn their place here.

Disc Three: At the BBC reinforces Dusty’s variety show credentials with a host of rattly recordings that might have made intriguing bootlegs but lack a certain something in this context. Still, Nowhere To Run, and It Was Easier To Hurt Him survive their TV studio band interpretations, although I Say A Little Prayer and I Heard It Through the Grapevine don’t fare so well. The traditional Irish air My Lagan Love makes an interesting diversion.

There’s more fun to be had in the Stage & Screen set in which Dusty clearly relishes being set loose on not obviously soulful songs she can then imbue with heart, heat and passion – not least Lee Hazlewood’s Sweet Ride and the original version of The Look of Love, from Casino Royale of course. The Corrupt Ones from 1967 is a welcome find and it’s always good to hear her take on Spooky again. Her final recording, a dry, husky treatment of Someone To Watch Over Me sees the whirlwind romp through 40-odd years of recordings end on a splendidly poignant moment.

While devotees will bemoan the lack of some material from the vaults, I missed hearing some of the more obvious cuts like Breakfast In Bed, but make no mistake, this is one hell of a set that every home should have space for.

Released 7 November 2011.