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Gallant effort, but not the Shirley Bassey we all remember
on 13 February 2004
Shirley Bassey, (a.k.a. the Welsh banshee, Bassey the Belter and the Tigress of Tiger Bay) has been a singing star for almost half a century, best remembered for singing the theme songs to the James Bond movies "Goldfinger" and "Diamonds Are Forever." However, the Shirley Bassey who "Sings the Songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber" on this album is not the same one we remember belting out those unforgettable movie themes. Not that we should expect it to be, but it is hard to listen to her sing these songs without thinking about what she would have done with them twenty years ago.
These songs are mostly done in the Bassey way, which is big and brassy, starting with the opening tune, "Memory" from "Cats." Similarly, "Starlight Express" sounds like it belongs in a nightclub act, but there are also songs that try something differences, such as "Chanson D'Enfance," which is sung in French to an accordion. The problem is that every time Bassey gears up to power through a part of a song, like in "Tell Me On a Sunday," it is always less than what you expect to hear. That means that slower, quieter songs like the first parts of "I Don't Know How to Love Him," "Macavity," and "Wishing Your Were Somehow Here Again" end up coming across better, where Bassey relies more on vocal phrasing than power vocals, and when she gets to the big part of the songs she is no longer up to the challenge. The bottom line is that this one is for fans of Bassey, who enjoy hearing her sing even as her considerable vocal talent slowly erodes, and will be less impressive to fans of the songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber. For Bassey fans this will be a 4; for Lloyd Webber fans this will be a 3.