Thanks Clive, nice to see
Reading their list of top 50 Pop recordings of the last 50 years, good to see that Dusty was one of the few to make the list twice.
While looking through the site, I saw this review of the South Bank Show from a few years back, can't remember reading it before (though I may have), think it's interesting and deserved a showing here.
What has she done to deserve this?
Peter Robinson on Dusty Springfield, a rare case of a self-doubting superstar
The Guardian, Saturday 8 April 2006
Soul woman: Dusty Springfield in 1964. Photograph: AP
You'll find out more about the passion and history of Britain's best ever pop voice from Dusty Springfield's brief biography on Wikipedia than from tomorrow night's gloomy - and largely unilluminating - South Bank Show profile, but one of the documentary's high points comes in an exchange between the Pet Shop Boys. Noting that Dusty has been elevated to that higher plateau of one-name pop stars, Neil Tennant explains that the singer was "like Elvis, or Bowie, or Liza..."
Right on cue, Chris Lowe pipes up: "Or Preston."
Later, archive footage reveals Dusty feeling "disassociated" from that famous moniker. It rather makes sense, given that Mary O'Brien only adopted her stage name for the purposes of popstardom, but what seems more stark is her other admission that, in terms of making music, "it's important what they think and not quite so important what I think".
At first glance this puts Dusty on a creative par with your average X Factor winner - none of whom write their own material, either - but, as is well documented, this is not the bleating of a willingly malleable starlet. Nor is this akin to an artist of today like Robbie Williams, derided for drawing attention to himself and throwing red herrings into his persona, then blubberin' and hollerin' when people don't understand him. It sounds like an admission of defeat, symptomatic of the ennui which plagued Dusty's professional life - even when she was at the height of her commercial or creative powers.
The South Bank Show documentary suggests that, had Dusty ruled the pop charts in 2006, her depression might have been more formally identified and even "cured", and that in these more permissive times the battle she found with her sexuality may not have been so acute.
It's certainly true that in 2006 Dusty would have immediately been outed as a lesbian, and that this may have taken some pressure away from her painfully insular private life, but it's wrong to assume that things would otherwise have been hunky dory. At one point in the programme, Kenny Everett's widow recalls an instance when she was severely winded after jumping in front of a Dusty so intent on killing herself that she was charging, headfirst, at a wall. You can imagine the sensitivity this story might have received from the News Of The World.
Similarly, the reaction of Heat magazine would have been to take Dusty's self-harm, depression and drink and drugs escapades and to cast her as a peculiar cross between Kerry Katona and Pete Doherty. All of which would have obscured her unique talent, just as the South Bank Show's treatment does.
Mercifully, the show contains some stupefying performances from Dusty, and the untouchable class of her act remains spellbinding. It's a class that cuts through the shoddy camerawork of 1960s pop TV. Without dancers or a visible band, one flick of a wrist from a woman on an empty stage makes Madonna's recent boombox humping seem as depressing as the fact that, even when the cameras stopped rolling, Dusty was still that one woman on an empty stage