October 6, 2012

Oscar, James Bond: Adele sings “Skyfall,” Shirley Bassey returns with “Goldfinger.”


12 Moments from the Oscars (including Adele), plus, Shirley Bassey’s towering, commanding return:

I’ve listened to this 5 times, and am just getting started:

Still, a fan of Shirley Bassey’s classics above all—her style, her voice, iconic.

And the opening credits, particularly for the early ones…wow. High camp meets art:

From the video:

Three James Bond Theme songs recorded by Shirley Bassey, with the actual movie credits. (HQ)

In 2011, the James Bond movie series celebrated their 50 years anniversary. In 2013, Dame Shirley Bassey, who has recorded three James Bond Theme songs, will celebrate 60 years in show business. Shirley started as a chorus girl in 1953 at the age of 16 years old. She was so young, she had to obtain her mother’s approval for her to go on the road, first playing in musicals on London’s west end circuit, with subsequent travel further and further way from her home and her mom in Cardiff, Wales. In the beginning, there was no additional money for Shirley’s mom, Eliza, to travel with her teenage daughter and watch over her. Shirley’s father, Henry Bassey, left their home when she was 2-3 years old; Shirley never knew her father.

It was not long after she started that the musical producers recognized Shirley’s vocal talent, and quickly started to revise the scripts to bring her up front to sing. And, not long after this that Shirley gave up her dancing shows all together to concentrate on singing. Shirley didn’t originally want to be a singer; it’s more like show business found her because finding any work in the 1950’s in Cardiff wasn’t easy, and Shirley found the extra spending money in this type of work to be very nice. Between 1953 and 1964 Shirley had several #1 hit records to her credit, with many more recordings between the top 10 & 20. But, it was the James Bond song, Goldfinger, that helped bring international fame to Shirley.

John Barry and his orchestra played gigs with the young Shirley and so he knew very well her vocal power, and he started to write complex musical score songs with her vocal range & power in mind. Around 1963, Barry contacted Shirley one day asking her if she would listen to the music of a song he was writing, but told her that the words hadn’t been written yet. To this day, Shirley seldom listens to songs without the words, but she told him, of course she would listen to his composition. Shirley heard the horns start up in he beginning and she told Barry that she would record that song, no matter what the words. Once the words were written, Shirley thought what a odd name for a song title. Barry had to tell her that ‘Goldfinger’ was the last name of the villan.

In 1971, Shirley recorded the theme song for the Bond movie, ‘Diamonds Are Forever’, and in 1979, she recorded her third theme for the movie, ‘Moonraker’. Moonraker was originally offered to Johnny Mathis, but Mathis said that his prior commitments didn’t allow him to travel to the UK to record the song so he passed it up. John Barry was in a bind as the movie was going into production and the soundtrack needed to get done to stay within budget. He asked Shirley if she would record the song, and again, she said of course. Barry and Bassey each know each other’s musical style so well. Barry found it easy to write for Bassey because she could sing anything he handed her. In turn, Bassey found Barry’s work challenging, but nevertheless easy to understand & learn, which is very important for someone who doesn’t read music.

In 2009, John Barry wrote his last song for Shirley, titled, ‘Our Time Is Now’, which was included on her CD titled, ‘The Performance’. Again, Shirley feels at home with Barry’s musical compositions and thus found it one of the easier tracks to learn and record. It’s a great song!

We are all looking for the ageless Dame Shirley Bassey’s next CD! Hope it is soon!

Two other favorites by Bassey:


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