Dame Shirley Bassey - Get The Party Started
Holly Cruise 07/08/2007
Reviving the golden oldies seems to be a periodic venture. Let's get the old duffers of yesteryear's charts out of their tombs and see if the embalming fluid will cope with a few choice covers done in a modern style. Or some modern songs done in the style of the artist's heyday. Or in the case of Tom Jones' Mousse T collaboration 'Sexbomb' a modern song, in a modern style so painfully of its moment (sometime in the middle of 2000) that within seconds it was overexposed and condemned to a lifetime of wedding receptions and cheesy student music nights.
So rise up Dame Shirley Bassey! Rise up on a wave powered by The Arctic Monkeys and Marks and Spencers. Rise up covered in sequins whilst the rest of the people at Glastonbury is covered in the soil of Glastonbury itself. There's always been something entertaining about DSB (as her own website now styles her), perhaps the way she does soundtrack some undeniably cool moments of pop and film history (and Moonraker). Or because the Rock Profiles parody of her was at once hilarious, affectionate and accurate. She's seventy now, but she still has the range.
It's really a pity then that this new album fails to live up its real potential. Anyone who saw those M&S Christmas adverts probably thought it was ridiculous that she'd cover Pink's 'Get The Party Started' like it was the theme tune to a lost Bond film. And it is. It's completely insane. It's also great. It'll raise a smile purely because it shouldn't exist. She's clearly enjoying herself singing it too, blasting it out exactly as you'd expect from her. Just as good is her new version of Big Spender. It sounds like DSB singing the original over something Goldfrapp would make for a laugh. It too succeeds by being camper than a row of electronic tents in a Berlin techno bar.
So it's just damn well annoying that the rest of the album slumps into big ballads and unimaginative covers. Excepting for an idiosyncratic version of I Will Survive (which doesn't improve on the original by any stretch but is at least a bit different) it's all too standard, too obvious. It'll probably appeal to Radio 2, and not in a good way. Surely (Shirley?) DSB has done enough big, straight faced ballads to last her a lifetime. With Amy Winehouse and Candie Payne making retro stylings work in a modern setting why not let an actual retro icon tackle a few more modern classics in her own camp manner. It might not be completely po-faced and serious, but it would be more interesting, and more fun for listeners.
Tell you what. Go to DSB's website (http://www.dameshirleybassey.com/index.asp) and download Get The Party Started and Big Spender. They're all you'll really need from this album, and hopefully DSB will notice they're what's selling and make a proper attempt to big band up some modern stuff. I'm voting for When The Sun Goes Down. Imagine the big notes on that one.