Shirley Bassey

Something [EMI]

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Locked out of the singles charts for the past seven years, Shirley Bassey finally returned with this collection of "contemporary" standards, including her British Top Five single "Something." (Bassey, who first heard the song when Peggy Lee sang it, apparently didn't even know it was a Beatles tune until just before recording it.) To parallel the modern material, Johnny Harris' arrangements add an upfront electric bass and hang-loose drumkit to the heavy strings and brass. Of course, Bassey was never a jazz singer, so she makes the transition from traditional pop to contemporary rock with an ease more comparable to Barbra Streisand than Peggy Lee. There are a few jazzy rock standards ("Light My Fire," "Spinning Wheel," "Something") plus plenty of latter-day show tunes ("Easy to Be Hard," "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life,") and a few '60s vocal pieces ("The Sea and Sand," "My Way," "Yesterday When I Was Young"). Each tune that comes her way gets stamped with the irrepressible Bassey style, and ends up making a remarkably cohesive album of contemporary pop.

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