3.5 out of 5 stars
Had these songs been released in late 1971, when they were originally scheduled, the dozen tracks would have been Dusty Springfield’s third Atlantic album. Coming on the heels of 1969’s successful Dusty in Memphis and 1970’s A Brand New Me, the songwriter/producer Jeff Barry helmed tracks would have made for a pretty great trilogy. But that never happened.
Springfield decamped for ABC Dunhill leaving these songs in the vaults where they were thought to have vanished or even burned in a fire. Rhino released four on their expanded edition of Dusty In Memphis, but the rest stayed hidden away…until now. Reissue label Real Gone found the missing tunes and sequenced them along with an extra single to recreate the missing album, named after the key word in its opening tune “I’ll Be Faithful.”
While there is no “Son of a Preacher Man” here, a few tracks such as the funky “Haunted” and the surprisingly raw and rocking “Natchez Trace” come pretty close. Faithful follows the …Memphis blueprint of recording a Southern soul set in New York City, only without a band that captured a swampy groove as effectively. The musician credits are frustratingly MIA (perhaps they were also misplaced), but the group does an admirable job of laying down these songs and allowing plenty of room for Dusty to take control.
The singer was arguably at the peak of her talents during these sessions. Here she smothers her husky pipes over the gospel pop of “I Found My Way Through the Darkness” and the more laid back, but no less heartfelt, Bread cover “Make it With You” complete with orchestration. Perhaps the Burt Bacharach-styled dynamic ballad “Love Shine Down” and Barry’s passionate “I Believe in You” would even have been hits if given a chance when they were recorded almost 45 years ago.
We’ll never know but it’s a treat to have this music that few fans even knew existed, available. Real Gone packages it professionally with informative liner notes that fill in some missing pieces of the story and classy photos from the era. The audio is clean and well mastered. Dusty is in terrific voice and spirits making this something of a lost, and now found, classic.