The same year of
Back To Black's
release, Christina Aguilera enlisted Ronson's services for her album
Back To Basics
. Though Aguilera's vocal chops were never in question and her soulful edge was on full display in her contribution to the 2001 cover of LaBelle's
, her throwback work on Ronson's
Slow Down Baby
and the rambunctious
Ain't No Other Man
evoked another era. The album ended up selling more than 5 million copies.
That's all it took to keep the register bells ringing. By the time Welsh singer Duffy released her bass-heavy anthem to sexual freedom
in 2007, the public was so enamored of blue-eyed soul that the single sold 1 million copies in the U.S. alone and more than 5 million copies worldwide. Her 2008 debut album
, meanwhile, sold more than 6.5 million copies around the globe.
Ronson, meanwhile, found another kindred spirit in a 19-year-old from Tottenham who looked up to Destiny's Child and Mary J. Blige, but started singing because of the Spice Girls. Adele Adkins got some help from Ronson on her debut album
when he produced her song
. The single was never big in the U.S., but Adele's pure delivery and the album's soul-imbued tone eventually made it a success here.
What would Springfield make of this little family tree? We're guessing not much. Springfield recorded
Dusty In Memphis
with Atlantic Records because it was Aretha Franklin's label. She used Cissy Houston's Sweet Inspirations as backup singers because they also backed up Aretha, Wilson Pickett and Solomon Burke. She used the Memphis Cats as her band because they were Pickett and King Curtis' band.
Much like many of the blue-eyed soul artists that followed her, Dusty Springfield didn't take a whole lot of her cues from the blue-eyed. While Springfield may rate as an influence for many of the artists mentioned above, she's not the common thread running through the whole lot. Like Duffy's love of Al Green and Burt Bacharach and Stone's affection for Springfield and Franklin, the common denominator among all of these artists is a connection with soul music that spans from
Goffin and King
Gamble and Huff
Blue eyes aren't a prerequisite to that love, even if those artists' album sales and a
album chart that puts Adele and Lana Del Rey at 1 and 2, respectively, indicate otherwise.
-- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.
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