Dame Shirley Bassey is a powerhouse.
In a stunning five decades as a singer, the Welsh talent has become renowned for her booming voice and her image as the diva of all divas. Bassey just turned 71 back in January of this year, if you can believe it, and released a new album in March. Get The Party Started seems appropriate, that’s for sure, as Bassey demonstrates time and again that her continuous reinvention and raw talent make her one of the most appealing divas in the world.
Bassey was born in Wales in 1937. As the youngest of seven children in a destitute area, she worked at a local factory and made extra money singing at men’s clubs. By 16, Bassey’s talent had been discovered and she signed her first professional contract. By 18, she was singing in theatres across the United Kingdom and was signed by Philips Records.
Bassey’s first single was the suggestive “Burn My Candle,” a song that was actually banned by the BBC for its lyrics. Despite the setback, she rose through the charts and was soon topping them with single after single. With hits throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s, Bassey had arrived on the music scene. In 1964, she recorded the title song to the James Bond film Goldfinger and her superb theatrical voice became known to a broader audience.
In 1971, Bassey was asked to record “Diamonds Are Forever” for another 007 flick and did yet another Bond song in 1979 with “Moonraker.” To date, she is the only singer to have recorded more than one James Bond theme song. Forever associated with 007, Bassey went on to an electrifying career through the seventies. She had her own popular BBC TV series and received the Brit Award for Best Female Solo Singer in the last 50 years in 1977.
With a semi-retirement in the 1980s, Bassey continued to put out successful albums. In 2000, she became a Dame and there was no turning back. Renowned for her famous gowns and elaborate stage glamour, there’s no mistaking Shirley Bassey’s legendary status.
Now, with her first album in almost a decade, she’s ready to strut her stuff again.
Get The Party Started features new recordings, new vocals, and remixes of some old standards. “Big Spender,” “You Only Live Twice,” the disco favourite “I Will Survive,” and other tracks highlight the album with unyielding fun. Bassey’s immense voice works faultlessly with the remixed backing tracks, making for an exciting mix of new flavour and traditional style.
The album’s title track is a newly recorded version of the Pink song. Set to an appealing beat and slowed down a little to meet Bassey’s generously proportioned vocal range, the song takes on an interesting meaning and shows that age is nothing but a number when it comes to starting the festivities.
Get The Party Started is swanky and alluring, often feeling like a cruise down the glimmering Las Vegas Strip. There are some discreet and surprisingly fond moments, however, like on the skilfully moving “I Who Have Nothing” or on the tremendous new single “The Living Tree.” The latter was born when writer/producer partners Catherine Feeney and Nikki Lamborn approached the Welsh diva about the possibility of recording their hit song. Bassey loved the track so much that she agreed to record it on the spot. The result is a dazzling melding of big booming vocals and warm refinement. It’s the best tune on the record.
Bassey’s voice is still magnificent at 71 and brims with authority and care. She could certainly show a lot of the young poptarts something about music, pitch, nuance, and singing with style. Bassey is a legendary talent and Get This Party Started demonstrates that with updated and remixed version of old classics and new favourites.