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Shirley Bassey

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Album Review

Bassey's third album is a pleasing if momentarily uneven collection of 13 songs, accompanied by Geoff Love and his orchestra with the Rita Williams Singers. Once one gets past the most questionable track here (the opener, no less), a version of "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing" that Bassey belts out to a too-loud accompaniment, everything is a winner. The best cut here, and one of the highlights of her early recording career, is "The Nearness of You," a dark and moody, totally sensual experience in which her voice gently washes over the listener, like a female analog to Nat King Cole at his most subtle. "Fools Rush In" isn't far behind, though on that particular cut the orchestra may even be a little under-recorded — the Rita Williams Singers are very tastefully used on that track, however, in a successful, understated manner. They're a little more prominent but still most effective on the beautiful "Who Are We?." "This Love of Mine" and "A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening" are sung by Bassey solo, the former with a hauntingly beautiful held note on the fade-out. She also acquits herself well on the bluesy "Angel Eyes," which breaks up the pacing and mood around all of this charmingly ethereal pop. Producer Norman Newell also bolsters the songwriting department with "Goodbye Lover — Hello Friend," which Bassey turns into a beautifully dramatic vehicle for her voice — she might even be a little too dramatic on Rodgers & Hart's "Where or When," but is so overpowering in her intonation that the slight excess can be forgiven. In all, this is a delightful and rewarding release from her early career, and is worth tracking down, particularly in the 1997 reissue as part of EMI's 100th anniversary CD series.

Biography

Born: 08 January 1937 in Tiger Bay, Cardiff, Wales

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Known to Americans most for her belting rendition of the theme to Goldfinger, the 1964 edition in the James Bond series (as well as 1971's Diamonds Are Forever and 1979's Moonraker), Shirley Bassey was one of the most popular female vocalists in Britain during the last half of the 20th century. Known as Bassey the Belter and also the Tigress of Tiger Bay, her early career in touring shows and cabaret brought her a recording contract with Philips by the late '50s. After reaching the top of the British...
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Shirley Bassey, Shirley Bassey
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