Thursday, November 12, 2015

Dusty Morning

Another cabaret performer tangent. Yesterday I picked up a disc on hold from the library Dusty Springfield; Come for a Dream. It is a great vault album from 1970-71, the result of a legal feud between 2 record labels that is finally being relinquished via Rhino Records.

Now, we would not likely ever think of Dusty Springfield as a cabaret artist.... But because I have always been a fan of her vintage blue-eyed soul, I was especially taken by the range on this new disc. There are a few bossa nova numbers. A Legrand/ Bergman collaboration. Of course anything Jimmy Webb is a point in my favor. Even a Charles Aznavour piece. So last night I was then distracted and began a YouTube hunt which amazed me to the max. First off, I had no idea she was a modest Irish lass by the name of Mary O'Brien. And then that she started her career as part of a successful folk trio along with her brother - just like a British Peter, Paul & Mary. Before the blonde bouffant was a meager brunette page cut. From there she unleashed a wealth of talents; singing in French, Spanish & Portuguese - all with perfect flair. Vintage Frishberg with "Peel Me a Grape" in 1962 - check. Gospel "the Water is Wide" - check. Bacharach beyond belief with him at the piano in "A House Is Not A Home"- check. American Songbooks classics like "Time After Time" and "Second Time Around" all there. And each sounded like they were her strongest suit.

But what bridged me over to the cabaret tangent were her performances. This was the era of variety show television and she was ALWAYS one to sing her tunes live over the track. So while her voice is instantly recognizable, no two performances were ever quite the same. The hair became an explosive gust of amber, the gowns and pantsuits always impeccably stylish, and gestures befitting a drag queen - she was larger than life. UNTIL the camera found her face. As I watched each clip, over 25 of them, I felt like she was singing directly to me! No matter how big the stage or audience, she was immediate and intimate. And the way she conquers the lyrics is knowing and painfully heartfelt. Here are just two clips that I had to share. I was going to compare with a Bette Midler meets Edyie Gorme, but she is definitely her own talent. A sad legacy of immense talent that was lost far too soon. Please watch both of these clips entirely.


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