A LITTLE LOVIN': Is there any song as alluring as Dusty Springfield's version of "Just a Little Lovin'"? With a smoky, sleepy tone, she sings of the pleasures of early-morning lovin' in such a gentle but powerful manner that it evokes a whole landscape of imagery; I imagine a sunny bed with crisp sheets and ... well ... and Dusty. It doesn't hurt that she's in a nightgown on the cover of the 1968 album on which the song appears, the transcendent Dusty in Memphis. Nor does it hurt that elsewhere on the record she sings the equally seductive "Breakfast in Bed" -- it's like she wants me -- and, as a result, the image that kicks off the album is reinforced halfway through. She's obsessed with the morning, whereas other soul singers were obsessed with the night, and the tenderness of the sentiment is accentuated by the tenderness deep inside her voice.
She died last Wednesday from breast cancer, just a month before her induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and a few months after Rhino Records reissued Dusty in Memphis.
Yeah, she was a soul singer. Not just the "Queen of White Soul," which is how she's known to most (although if you do wanna break it down along racial lines, she was the best white soul singer), but one of the premier soul singers of the '60s. Chances are that if you know her, it's as the singer of "Son of a Preacher Man" from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. But if you're a fan of her voice there, I'd encourage -- no, implore -- you to race to the closest good record store and grab Dusty in Memphis. It'll make you happy. It'll move you. It'll make you realize what a stirring voice we've lost. (RR)
UNCUT ABOVE THE REST: Whatever one says about American rock vs. British rock, it's pretty clear that when it comes to magazines, England takes the prize. It wasn't always this way, but in the past decade Brit mags Q and Mojo have surpassed the mediocre offerings over here; this new breed has band allegiances that last more than a week and are glossy, beautiful magazines with info served without sauciness. My favorite British magazine by far, though, is Uncut. The relatively new (since '97) and obscure publication covers not just music but movies. It's the size of Q and Mojo, and just as glossy, but it has smaller print. That means it has as much information about music, plus the movie coverage -- and the layout and photos are the equal of their brethren.
The February issue has New Order on the cover, articles on Lucinda Williams, Bonnie and Clyde and Ronnie Spector, and the best John Cale interview I've ever read. In a section called "Classic Albums Revisited," My Bloody Valentine's Isn't Anything gets a full page of riveting remembrance. There's a piece on novelist E.L. Doctorow, who, in the mind of the article's scribe, is the greatest living American novelist. I even learned about a new artist called Trashmonk, a.k.a. Nick Laird-Clowes (he fronted the light-as-forgetfulness Dream Academy in the '80s). In the article, Trashmonk is compared to John Lennon and Big Star. I was able to test the analogies by spinning a Trashmonk song, thanks to a free CD that comes with Uncut. Also on this issue's disc are Lucinda Williams, Sly and the Family Stone, Isaac Hayes, Booker T and the MGs, Iggy and the Stooges, and the best living power pop band in America, Cotton Mather (from Austin, just picked up in Britain), plus a slew more. In last September's issue, the sampler could have qualified as the best alt-country compilation ever. It encompassed, among many others, Gram Parsons, Kate Campbell, the Handsome Family, and the St. Louis-connected Wagon and Nadine. Every issue comes with a free CD, and the package will leave you only six or seven bucks poorer. I got my copy at Whiz Bam! on South Grand. (JO)
CUTTING-EDGE MARIMBIST: Perhaps the freakiest version of a Nirvana song can be heard on the Dead Musicians' Society's first CD, Graveyard Summer Sky: "Something in the Way" for marimba. It's a beautiful take on the song, and at its center is Kevin Lucas on said instrument, which can be described to marimba ignorants as a wooden xylophone with a hollow, earthy tone. Lucas and the DMS, who are Carbondale-based, will be highlighting the marimba at the Sheldon on Tuesday, March 16; fans of Tortoise and Yanni (admit that the major difference between the two is his flowing mane) will want to attend. (RR)
Contributors: Jordan Oakes, Randall Roberts