- Audio CD (9 Nov. 2009)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Import
- Label: Polydor
- ASIN: B002OL29OI
- Other Editions: Audio CD | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (193 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 22,573 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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The Performance Import
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Dame Shirley Bassey, Britain’s most successful female artist ever, releases her first full studio album in over 20 years. The Performance was produced by David Arnold, the Grammy Award-winner best known for scoring five James Bond films and features songs written specifically for Dame Shirley by a stellar cast of contemporary artists, including Take That’s Gary Barlow, Manic Street Preachers, Pet Shop Boys, KT Tunstall and Rufus Wainwright.
After 2007’s patchy, Grandma-with-a-ringtone album Get the Party Started, The Performance is a return to what Bassey does best: sweeping, orchestral overstatement. This collection is also contemporary, but instead of resorting to Mark Ronson or other remixers du-jour, she mines the talents of a collection of disparate, yet established songwriters.
The turned-to-11 string arrangements could fuel space travel, so there is little room for restraint. Given Bassey’s three Bond themes, it is fitting that the current 007 soundtracker, David Arnold, is producer/arranger here. John Barry even hands her his first song since Diamonds Are Forever – shame it’s not as good, but then what is? The collaborations gel neatly with Arnold’s production, particularly an unlikely Kaiser Chiefs’ contribution, which resists a Bassey Britpop vocal about shoplifting and is surprisingly Bond-ish. It’s certainly superior to recent under-written themes, even if I Love You Now will struggle to find a suitable villain.
Another highlight is Rufus Wainwright’s flamenco-esque Apartment, where Bassey finds the skip of a woman half her age. However, Gary Barlow’s contribution does little to stem his slide into music so polite it should now be excused.
It’s easy to forget, with the avalanche of indie sixth-formers wishing to share their worldly wisdom, the value of well-earned lines such as the shimmering “Now, I’m not quite so young / I’m not quite so foolish in my defence” sung by a 72-year-old, although adding “I’m not your girl…” may be pushing it.
There is a midway lull, with As God Is My Witness meandering so idly one sympathises with the big fellow. Surprisingly, things are saved by Manic Street Preachers’ wistfully autobiographical The Girl From Tiger Bay, which echoes Bassey’s turn on Propellerheads’ History Repeating, while Pet Shop Boys continue their healthy track record of writing for female icons with the defiantly fragile title track.
Admirably shaking away cruise-ship shtick, Bassey wraps herself around these songs with gusto, meaning that perhaps, for once, mum’s Christmas present will find a place on the family stereo. --Tom Hocknell
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Top Customer Reviews
Such is the quality of this album, I could list every single track as a highlight, but for the sake of brevity, I will briefly describe the real talking points. "Almost There", which is my personal favourite Tom Baxter song, opens "The Performance" - and what a performance it is! When the heartbreaking song swells and explodes, it gives the listener chills down your neck and spine... absolutely magnificent. Track two is "Apartment", a Latin-tinted, toe-tapping Rufus Wainwright song, penned specifically for this album, sounding every bit like a modern Shirley Bassey classic. The first time I listened to the album, I did so without reading the liner notes, wanting to guess who had written the different songs. For the beautiful, loungey "This Time", I was guessing Burt Bacharach, mainly because of the time signature, use of strings and the muted horns - but it was none other than Gary Barlow. To be perfectly honest, I'm impressed.Read more ›
No doubt, Amy Winehouse would have been included in that line-up had she got her act together (Dame Shirley has said that "Back to Black" is one of her favourite songs). It would have been interesting to see what Ms. Winehouse had in store for Shirley.
As it is, we have 11 wonderful performances with the highlights being "Almost there", "After the rain", Gary Barlow's "This time" and the Pet Shop Boys' dramatic title track. This has the potential to become my favourite Shirley Bassey album. I hope DSB will not leave it too long before recording more of the same.
Dame Shirley Bassey's The Performance knocked my socks off, curled my hair, floated my boat, you name it. David Arnold's production, Bassey's superbly-recorded and performed vocals, and uniformly excellent songs make this one of those rare creations: an album you compulsively listen to start to finish. She sells it.
Yes, DSB sounds like a mature vocalist, but her artistry is totally and almost-overwhelmingly evident; just have a listen and realise how much most contemporary singers oversing. It's almost a joke realising Bassey is renowned for her strident vocals, yet her singing on The Performance is just perfect. THE contemporary pop album of the year, and probably of her career.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
They just don't have any artists to match the likes of Shirley Bassey or Barbra Striesand.
Such voice control.
The Pet Shop Boys have been involved with three legendary singers in their career (and this list excludes Madonna and Kylie Minogue, also legends in their own right with whom they... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Autonome
with this album i have listened repeatedly and it has become all the more rewarding to do so.this is a class performance by a true legendary artist. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Mr. P. Fairclough