Dusty Springfield is, arguably, one of the greatest vocalists Britain has ever produced, yet she enjoyed only three small hits in Germany – even after releasing several singles in German.
Her first German-language recording was with the group the Springfields, a folk group that enjoyed several hits in the UK until Dusty went solo in the autumn of 1963.
Earlier that year the group released an EP of German recordings, titled Songs from the hills. It included Ich geh’ ohne Ruh durch die Straßen und Gassen (a version of the UK top five hit Island of dreams), Alles Gold und alles Silber (Silver threads and golden needles), Das kostet keinen Pfennig (the album track Settle down) and Sag mir, wo die Blumen sind (the German version of Marlene Dietrich’s Where have all the flowers gone).
The release didn’t register with the German record-buying public but that didn’t stop record label Philips re-releasing two of the songs later that year. However, the resultant single, Ich geh’ ohne Ruh durch die Straßen und Gassen (with Alles Gold und alles Silber on the reverse), still didn’t chart.
After Dusty scored her first few hits in the UK, record label Philips was keen to promote the singer in the continental European markets. As a result, in July 1964, she recorded a number of songs in German, French and Italian.
From those recordings, Warten und hoffen (a version of Wishin’ and hopin’) was picked as a single, with Auf dich nur wart’ ich immerzu (a cover of her debut solo hit I only want to be with you) on the reverse. Dusty struggled with the German language, particularly on the faster track, and the single flopped.
It wasn’t until June 1966 that she enjoyed her first – and biggest – German hit of the decade, with You don’t have to say you love me. However, the song spent just two weeks in the German charts and made only number 33.
Two years later, she spent one week at number 40 with I close my eyes and count to ten, and in April 1969 she took Son of a preacher man to number 38.
Her relative lack of success in Germany didn’t prevent German stars from covering her material. The first was unknown singer Waltraud Dirks, who released Wenn ich nur wüßt’, was ich tu’ ohne dich, a version of I just don't know what to do with myself, in 1967. The following year, established star Heidi Brühl issued Ich schließe meine Augen (a version of I close my eyes and count to ten). The Golden Kids also cut an alternative version of I only want to be with you in 1970, retitled Wir leben mit dem Sonnenschein. None of these artists singer shared the richness of Dusty’s vocals and the releases flopped.
However, the prize for the worst cover (arguably ever, in the history of pop music) was Lisa Bauer’s laughably bad 1971 release Song vom Hilfsarbeiter, a version of Son of a preacher man. Her deep vocals didn’t suit the song and the lyrics didn’t fit the melody. However, given that Miss Bauer is better known as Swiss comedienne Lisa Fitz, this was probably intentional. Joyce Suma also released a version of the song with different lyrics, retitled Wenn ein Mann mit der Liebe spielt, and in 2005, Katja Ebstein released another one, Der Junge von nebenan.