[19] Dusty Springfield, ‘Am I The Same Girl?’

When Junior heard we were about to put a record on, she was expecting something a little more nursery rhyme than this. “My song! My song!” she yelled and fished Party Songs out of the rack. Dusty had no answer, and soon we were bopping away to ‘Old MacDonald’ instead.

It’s a shame, because ‘Am I The Same Girl?’ is bright and airy, despite the yearning of the lyrics – is he going to wise up and rekindle that flame? It sounds like he might. Dusty’s isn’t the only great version of this song; in fact, its register is possibly a little too high for her. It’s not even the only 1969 version, coming as it did hot on the heels of Barbara Acklin’s arguably superior original – but, come on, it’s Dusty. The song was covered again in 1992 by the almighty Swing Out Sister who, although largely faithful to the earlier efforts, added a splendid ad lib at the end – “Have you ever stopped and wondered what it is you’re searching for?” – and disgraced no one in the process. It’s that kind of record.

[4] Pet Shop Boys & Dusty Springfield, ‘What Have I Done To Deserve This?’

This is the best single of 1987 by some distance, only I didn’t quite realise at the time. The “song with no chorus”, as Tennant and Lowe knew it, has drama, bitterness, regret and huge, warm hooks. It also has those synth horns on the second bridge that set you up for Dusty’s matchless second verse/bridge/kind-of-chorus. The catch in her voice here is not just the highlight of the record, it’s one of the pop highlights of the decade.

The kids like it as well. My brother was two when this was released and it’s the first of my records I remember him singing along with, in an early prototype of Jukebox Junior. Junior herself enjoyed this in a more stately manner, waltzing around the living room with her dad.

I haven’t paid much attention to the Pet Shop Boys in the last 10 years. I know they made a new soundtrack to Battleship Potemkin last year, and I’ve been dimly aware of the steady trickle of pale imitations of former glories. Nothing disguises the weakening grip on the mastery of pop. It would’ve been a tall order, anyway. In the ’80s they peered down on all except the pint-sized purple paisley poseur.