Who is Gladys Thong? This is the burning question of the moment. A bareback rider at the Chinese circus, or an illustrious Oriental spy of fiendish cunning?

No indeed. Gladys Thong is Dusty Springfield. Or rather Dusty Springfield is Gladys Thong.

Who What Where When? One may well ask. And one would be forgiven. The reason is simply that Dusty is given to suddenly popping up on other people's records in the most diverting manner. And because she is apt to do this on record labels other than her own, she signs her little piece of paper at the recording office: "Gladys Thong"--and all is well.

What a way to carry on, many people have said, eyebrows raised. This does not upset Dusty. She guests on records by "rivals," she says, because she wants to.

"I'm very strong willed and I do backing voices just for a laugh and because I enjoy it, so why shouldn't I? It all started when I made some demo records for Doris Troy when she was here and then I started to sing on Madeline Bell, Lesley Duncan and Kiki Dee's records. I don't see why I shouldn't. They sing on mine and we're all friends."

Other famed records that Dusty has appeared on, vocally incognito, are one by Chris Curtis and the latest Wee Willie Harris opus: "Someone's In The Kitchen With Diana."

"The last one came up when I was sitting at home one evening doing my knitting. Madeline was on the session, and someone had to drop out because they were ill. 'Come along and have a laugh,' they said. So I did. No, it doesn't really make me cross when people ask me what I'm up to. I know what I'm up to. I'm doing what I love doing more than anything else--singing.

"The only thing that would upset me is if my manager Vic [Billings] or my recording manager Johnny [Franz] got cross and wrote little notes saying 'not again.'

"People have said I'm looning around and I shouldn't be, but believe me, if I thought these jolly sessions would interfere with my own recordings or weaken my voice I wouldn't do them. But it takes a lot less effort doing 'yeah yeahs' than a proper session for yourself."

While unravelling this little saga, Dusty was waiting to do her spot on the Tom Jones TV show, calming her nerves at the prospect of doing cabaret in America, and bewailing the fact that she would have little time to cut a new LP before Christmas.

"I've got such smashing ideas, I can't wait to get into the studio. Neither can Johnny, but there just isn't a moment to do anything. Philips are putting out an LP of my singles which I shall buy because I haven't GOT any of my singles! But I'm hoping nobody is going to make a big thing about it and treat it as a follow up LP to Ev'rything's Coming Up Dusty.

"On my new one I'd like to do songs written by friends of mine and use that as the link-up. Lesley Duncan and Tom [Springfield] have written some beautiful stuff which I want to do, and of course some by Goffin and King and Burt Bacharach.

"No, nothing by yours truly. Well, I don't really see myself as a songwriter. I don't really like writing, even though Madeline and I have written the 'B' side to my latest single. I just don't get any good ideas and the ones I do get are pinched from other records. The only reason I write is for the money--oh mercenary creature!"

And with that Gladys Thong, singer extraordinary, went and had a cup of tea.

Penny Valentine
Disc & Music Echo
September 24, 1966