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TheStreet Open House

How Dusty Springfield Made Adele Possible

Son of a Preacher Man did them all one better by being sultry enough to make Bonnie Raitt a fan yet bombastic enough to send young listeners digging through mom and dad's crates for Motown records and anything backed by a wall of sound. All the charts had to do was wait for the emulators to take the mic.

Fiona Apple dropped her debut album Tidal two years later in 1996 and needed only one torchy piano-laden single -- Shadowboxer -- to give the world a peek at what was coming down the pike and just one string of lines to foreshadow the success of an artist such as Adele:

"Once my lover, now my friend/what a cruel thing to pretend/what a cunning way to condescend/once my lover ... now my friend."

Another couple that could have had it all. Another wounded heart bleeding into a lyric sheet. Another soul laid bare. Apple made it clear that her brand of blue-eyed soul emphasized the blue and the spurned lover of the album's opening track Sleep To Dream ("I tell you how I feel but you don't care/I say tell me the truth but you don't dare") punched that point home. It wasn't until Apple appeared in her underwear in a drunken-afterparty-themed video for the lamenting single Criminal that she and her sound went mainstream.

The single went Top 40 and earned Apple a Grammy, and Tidal went on to sell more than 3 million copies. Unfortunately, Apple was still too much of a downer for much of the American listening public that bristled at her "This world is bull****" declaration at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards and outwardly sighed at the eight-line title of her album follow-up, holding sales of it to a third of what they were for Tidal. Apple's slide was just beginning, but When The Pawn ... single Fast As You Can cracked the Top 40 in the U.S. and U.K. There was still a market for blue-eyed soul if those blue eyes had a happier outlook

That's where Joss Stone and Mark Ronson come in. Growing up in Dover, England, young Jocelyn Stoker spent her days spinning Dusty Springfield and Aretha Franklin CDs and singing Jackie Wilson covers. During her earliest auditions in 2001 and 2002, she displayed her deep vocal chops by grinding out versions of (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman, (Sittin' On) The Dock of The Bay and Midnight Train To Georgia. When it came time to record her first album, Soul Sessions, she sat in with Miami soul veterans including Betty Wright and Benny Lattimore and Philly neo-soul pioneers Angie Stone and The Roots. The result was an album that sold 5 million copies worldwide, turned the White Stripes' Fell In Love With A Girl on its head and turned Sugar Billy's 1974 Super Duper Love (Are You Diggin' On Me)" into an international hit.

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