Released today in 1987: What Have I Done To Deserve This?

Parlophone R6163

Parlophone R6163


In the 1960s, 16 of the 20 singles Dusty Springfield released in the UK were hits. Her output slowed down considerably in the following decade and she rarely made the charts: she released nine singles (one of which was a duet with her brother Tom) and scored just two hits, both of which barely made it. It would take a collaboration with Pet Shop Boys to return her to the charts in the 1980s, her three singles with them being her only hit material in that period. The reason for her limited success from 1970-1989? Well, it wasn’t the fact that she was resident in America for much of that period. Her fortunes there also floundered: her 21 singles in the US in the 60s yielded the same number of hits as she’d had in the UK, but of the dozen singles she put out in the 70s, only one made the Hot 100; she charted only once more in 1988 (with Pet Shop Boys). And it wasn’t the quality of the material she was recording either – although there were some questionable songs choices, there were few really bad ones and her vocals were superb as always. Contractual difficulties with record companies folding; poor health; unwillingness to make promotional appearances; perfectionism (e.g., multiple fifteen-hour recording sessions for a single song); a reputation for being difficult … these are all likely contributory factors for her fall from being a priority artist. Here’s a list of her output in the 1980s, excluding reissues of past recordings:

Your Love Still Brings Me To My Knees
American release date: unissued
British release date: January 18th, 1980 (Mercury DUSTY5)
☛ Dusty’s first British solo single of 1970 was also her last hit of that decade, until, somewhat surprisingly, she had a minor success with Baby Blue, written by The Buggles, in 1979. This perhaps inspired Phonogram to have another go and her first single of the 1980s was Your Love Still Brings Me To My Knees. It didn’t receive very good reviews and flopped; Dusty and Phonogram parted company soon after.

It Goes Like It Goes
American release date: June 27th, 1980 (20th Century Fox, TC2457)
British release date: cancelled
☛ This single flopped but interest in it picked up a little when 20th Century Fox decided to promote the B-side, I Wish That Love Would Last, as the lead track. This encouraged RCA, Dusty’s new distributor in the UK, to schedule I Wish That Love Would Last (co-written by Allee Willis) for British release in October 1980. It never got pressed though.

American release date: October, 1982 (Casablanca, NB2356)
British release date: unissued
☛ Dusty’s only album of the 1980s was recorded for 20th Century Fox. White Heat’s track Blind Sheep is listed at the Musicians’ Guild logs as the last designated session for the label, which folded soon after work on Dusty’s album was completed. In the end, the album and the single taken from it, Donnez-Moi, were issued on the Casablanca label in America, which itself lasted only a couple more years. With the demise of 20th Century Fox, Dusty had no record company in the UK and White Heat didn’t see release here. Interviewed December 1982, Dusty seemed to think it was just a matter of choosing which company should release it, and that it would be released in a matter of weeks. By the end of the month, she changed her mind, saying: “It will either be released or I’ll make another one.”

Private Number
American release date: unissued
British release date: March 30th, 1984 (Allegiance ALES3)
☛ The first of several duets, this one with a 60s contemporary of Dusty’s, Spencer Davis for his Crossfire album on the label he was A&R manager for, Allegiance. Not a strong recording, but not quite as pitiful as…

Sometimes Like Butterflies
American release date: unissued
British release date: August 12th, 1985 (Hippodrome HIPPO103)
☛ This ballad simply didn’t work. Hippodrome was Peter Stringfellow’s label, named after his nightclub, and Dusty was contracted to record three singles and an album. In the end all that emerged was this single, and this nearly didn’t happen: Stringfellow evidently didn’t appreciate what a perfectionist Dusty was, and was impatient to release the single. He arranged for the single to mixed in Dusty’s absence and used a vocal she had laid down, and evidently rejected, early in the recording process.

What Have I Done To Deserve This?
American release date: December 8th, 1987 (EMI Manhattan B50107)
British release date: August 10th, 1987 (Parlophone R6163)
☛ Pet Shop Boys wrote this duet with Allee Willis early in ’85, and Willis recorded a guide vocal for the demo recording. When someone in their manager’s office suggested they record the final version with Dusty, “from that point we knew we just had to have Dusty, so Dusty was approached but it never happened. Everyone said she couldn’t sing anymore. She had a very bad reputation. Then later, after Please came out, we heard that Dusty wanted to do it,” wrote Neil Tennant in the sleeve notes to a reissue of the album it was taken from, Actually. Dusty arrived at the studio to record her part of this duet with her handwritten notes on the text of the song, detailing exactly how Willis had sung it on the demo. “‘What do you want me to sound like?’, she asked, and she seemed surprised by the answer: ‘you’,” wrote Tennant.

Something In Your Eyes
American release date: September 22nd, 1987 (A&M AM-2940)
British release date: September 21st, 1987 (A&M AM406)
☛ This was recorded before the single above for Richard Carpenter’s Time album. Dusty provides guest vocals but does not receive a credit on the label, but her name does appear on the sleeve.

As Long As We Got Each Other
American release date: November 29th, 1988 (Reprise 7-27878)
British release date: unissued
☛ This was a song from the US television show ‘Growing Pains’, originally recorded by other artists but here performed by Dusty and BJ Thomas, another singer known for perfectionism.

Nothing Has Been Proved
American release date: May 9th, 1989 (Enigma 7-75042)
British release date: February 13th, 1989 (Parlophone R6207)
☛ Another composition by Pet Shop Boys, this time for the movie ‘Scandal’ (released in the UK on 3 March 1989), which concerned the Profumo affair. As a chart star at the time story broke in the British press, Dusty was a good choice to sing the track. Pet Shop Boys were preparing to write more for the soundtrack, but the producers decided instead to use music from the era the film was set in inside, with this song being the only original material and used over the closing credits. Tennant was startled by Dusty’s penchant for recording almost note by note: “Though the end result usually flowed together seamlessly, she often actually recorded syllable by syllable. The first line of Nothing Has Been Proved is: ‘Mandy’s in the papers’. She got the track started and her cigarette and her cup of coffee and she gets to ‘Ma–’ and stops. Wind the tape back and start again. I just looked at all these words – two sheets of them, and we had to double track them – and I thought I’d go insane.”

In Private
American release date: unissued
British release date: November 20th, 1989 (Parlophone R6234)
☛ More thoughts on Dusty’s studio habits from Tennant: “It annoyed me though because Dusty wouldn’t make the words work. It’s meant to flow straight into the chorus, and Dusty kept changing the words. The song is supposed to go, “There’s a difference between…/What you’re going to say in private…” Dusty would go, “There’s a difference between…/And what you’re going to say in private…” I said to her, why are you singing ‘And’?, and she just blatantly ignored me because she wanted that pick-up note before she went into the chorus so it’s still in there. Was she stubborn or what?”

NEW SINGLES on sale from Aug. 10
FAT BOYS Wipeout (Urban URB5)
FIVE STAR Whenever You’re Ready (Tent PB41477)
PET SHOP BOYS and Dusty SPRINGFIELD What Have I Done To Deserve This? (Parlophone R6163)
The PRIMITIVES (Tracy Tracy) Thru The Flowers (Lazy LAZY06)
PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED (John Lydon) Seattle (Virgin VS988)
The SMITHS (Morrissey) Girlfriend In A Coma (Rough Trade RT197)


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