There's not much praise you can lavish Dame Shirley Bassey with that hasn't all been heard before. Of course there are those who don't enjoy her sound, as there is with any artist, but she's truly one of the greats who has solidified her name in musical history forevermore.
Now she's celebrating 60 years in the business and releasing her first new album in five years, recorded in London at the Abbey Road studios with Stuart Barr as producer and musical director.
Because of such milestones being reached it's a little off-putting from the get-go that this is a collection of cover songs, as Shirley takes on what she deems some of the 20th century's greatest songs - ones she's always wanted to put her own spin on. Fans long for more original material but shouldn't be disappointed here, as for some of the tunes - such as Frank Sinatra's 'It Was A Very Good Year' - Bassey has waited since being 17-years-old to lay down her own version.
'Englishman In New York' is without a doubt a little odd when it comes to Shirley's take of the chorus. It's something that she should have kept for private parties, when everybody's had a little bit of something to drink and won't mind the awkwardness and slight timing issues throughout.
We've all become accustomed to cover versions having to have a new twist and spin when artists who aren't the originals perform their own renditions, but what's wrong with sticking to the usual formula - the one that the song was supposed to be sang with? It's that which pulls down some of the tunes that had the promise to be great. 'Fever' has been covered time and time again and unfortunately doesn't capture attention as it should here, and 'I'm Still Here' - whilst being the perfect title for this Dame - is forgettable.
In fact it then takes until track number seven - a re-covering of James Bond classic hit 'Goldfinger' - for the spirits to be lifted. It's fantastic to hear her on her best form whilst singing one of her best tunes, and the follow-up - a Paloma Faith collaboration on 'Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend' - is just as fascinating.
"How was that for you?" Shirley asks Paloma after the take. "I'm going to H Samuels" she replies, leaving the Dame erupting in laughter.
Then we're mainly back to the dreary and it goes without saying, where this album fails Shirley has more than made up for with her illustrious back catalogue. She's better than what's given here and it's a shame to hear such moping in an album that really should be completely celebratory.
Dame Shirley Bassey's 'Hello Like Before' is released on Monday, November 17.
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