The Songs of Shirley Bassey

Album 1970:
Something
United Artists England: UAS 29100, 1999 re-issue on CD: EMI 4 99682 2,
1980's re-issue on CD by EMI-AXIS Australia: CDAX 197334

in the USA also released as:
Shirley Bassey "is really Something"
United Artists USA: UAS 6765

Tracklisting:

  1. 3:32 - Something
  2. 3:04 - Spinning Wheel
  3. 3:27 - Yesterday I Heard The Rain
  4. 3:58 - The Sea And Sand
  5. 3:34 - My Way
  6. 3:08 - What About Today?
  7. 3:52 - You And I
  8. 3:25 - Light My Fire
  9. 2:37 - Easy To Be Hard
  10. 2:36 - Life Goes On
  11. 2:52 - What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?
  12. 3:52 - Yesterday When I Was Young
  13. On the 1999 EMI re-release on CD there's an additional bonus track:

  14. 3:23 - The Fool On The Hill


This album has been re-released on CD 1999 completely digitally remastered from EMI.

Review from the "Billboard" magazine for week ending September 5th, 1970:

PICK
Straightahead pop singing, some good old fashioned voice raising that never goes out of style when it is done with elegance. The material used is very contemporary--"Spinning Wheel" gets another turn, "My Way" is a personal, honest statement, and "Light My Fire" burns at both ends. Her giant British chart winner, "Something," is included.


LP Sleevenote
by Mort Goode
(This is the sleevenote of the Shirley Bassey is really "Something" album.)

Shirley Bassey is really "Something" is more than a wolf-whistle observation, a spicy comppliment, a stimulating utterance.

It is an expression of happiness voiced with intensity, with passion, with an urge to stir. It is a high-voltage performance and a lo-and-beholden bow to the music of the day. It is an emotional climate. Warm. Whetting romantic appetite. Shadow and contrast. It is something else.

Shirley Bassey is something else. When she sings you can sense the titillation of an exotic touch. Her voice gently scratches your back, raising bumper crops of erotic imaginings. Then her gusto and enthusiasms jet you into a quick-developing sense of joy bubbling over. When Shirley sings she is saying something.

Have you ever seen perform? She undulates across a world of make-believe with a wink in her walk. She strips away the sham of trivial gimmickry in putting forth her particular thoughts. She sings with body English, controlling the exterior flamboyance, concentrating on the ear-soothing essentials. Shirley gets to you.

The selections here are really something. Traditions of today, transmitting ideas and conclusions, uplifts and down-drafted recollections, outlooks and inner transformations. The variety of choice runs across the entire spectrum of generations. Look at the timeless list. A song of The Beatles and of The Doors. A moving moment of the robust "Hair". The beautiful Academy-Award-nominee "What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?" by Michel Legrand and the Bergmans. Songs from Blood, Sweat And Tears and Barbra Streisand. It adds up to a dozen delighting interpretations.

Shirley Bassey is contemporary. And a traditionalist. She wants to get the facts of the message she is singing straight. She wants you to get the facts straight. Thus she choreographs her presentments, toe-dancing on the top of a note, underscoring the highpoint of meaning. She half hugs the melody as she strides across a lyric line, a tiger at bay, a tender pussycat. She seems to be seeing inside the words and unfolding them for your viewing pleasure. She looks upon it all through wide-angle lenses, boldly snapping up-to-date photos of the world around us. She enunciates her positions with perfect clarity. She is no screaming expressionist, no eek-freak screeching to a halting conclusion. Shirley is understandable.

Shirley Bassey is really "Something" is really something. It is a spray of love potion to curl you up in a blanket. It is a long, lingering look at the music scene today. It is a statement of fact about Shirley. She lurks behind each sly thought. She urges you on with her rapt interest. She is satisfying.

"Shirley Bassey Is Really Something" - else!


CD Sleevenote
by Chris White
(This is the sleevenote of the 1999 EMI digitally remastered re-release of the album on CD.)

SHIRLEY BASSEY
The release of Shirley Bassey's album Something in August 1970 was a major milestone in her recording career which, even back then, had already spanned 14 years.

Not only did the album quickly become the most successful of Shirley's career, it was also notable for a radical new musical approach that presented the Welsh singing star in an entirely new recording light.

Shirley Bassey's career had started in the Fifties when she worked in variety theatres around Britain, and enjoyed Top 10 calypso hits like Banana Boat Song and Kiss Me Honey Honey Kiss Me. The Sixties witnessed her become one of Britain's top female ballad singers, thanks to records like As Long As He Needs Me, You'll Never Know, Climb Ev'ry Mountain, What Now My Love, and I (Who Have Nothing).

By 1970, however, Shirley's recording career had seemingly begun to run out of steam. Her last Top 10 hit single had been as long ago as 1963, while her most recent albums had failed to ignite the charts.

In 1966 Shirley had quit the auspices of EMI Records' Columbia label to sign with United Artists in the U.S. The move ensured that her records would be promoted across the Atlantic. Her first four albums under the new deal, I've Got A Song For You, And We Were Lovers, This Is My Life and Does Anybody Miss Me, all failed to make the British album charts however.

Matters were not helped by the fact that Ms Bassey's high earning capacity had now put her firmly into the tax exile category, and for the best part of two years she was not allowed to work in Britain, let alone promote her records.

A major re-think about Shirley's recording career was required, and thus the comparatively radical musical concept for the Something album emerged from meetings between Shirley and United Artists.

Previously Shirley's albums had mainly been a mix of big ballads and well-known show songs. However this new album would see her tackling contemporary rock and pop material. During an interview at her home i switzerland in 1976, Shirley admitted to this writer:

"The recording of Something was the real turning point for me, I suppose you could even say that it made me a pop star, and yet it seemed such a natural change."

"I just went into the studio one evening with these songs, including Something which I had first heard sung by Peggy Lee on the Ed Sullivan show in the States. I didn't even know that The Beatles had done it!"

"I just caught the end of Peggy's performance and I was so knocked out that I started ringing people up, asked if they knew the name of the song that she had sung. About two weeks later I found that it had been written by George Harrison."

Shirley was teamed with United Artists recordproducer Noel Rogers for the album. Rogers himself recalled:

"Shirley was classed as a MOR singer and it became necessary to put some added excitement into the arrangements and prductions, in order to keep up with current trends ... the whole approach to her recording career had to be freshened."

It was Rogers, who brought in musical director/arranger Johnny Harris.

"He could give a song a really fresh sound and, instead of Shirley working in the studio with a massive orchestra, we just had Heads, Hands & Feet, a basic rhythm group backing her. It was the first time that Shirley had recorded like that, and I think that she quite enjoyed the experience."

Rogers added:

"Shirley was happy with the concept of the album, she wanted to get away from the usual cheeky, bum-twitching type of song. She felt that such material was no longer valid, although of course very good to include in her stage act."

The first single to be released from the album was 'Sea And Sand', a powerful ballad co-written by Johnny Harris. Soon afterwards Shirley wa sback in London to headline at The Talk Of The Town and the decision was made to release the title song, 'Something', as the second single. It turned out to be one of the biggest hits of Shirley's career.

Released in June 1970, the record soared to number 4 in the charts and enjoyed 21 weeks in the Top 50 - her longest chart duration ever for a single. Two months later the 'Something' album was released, and was equally as successful: it reached number 5 and had a Top 50 chart residency of 28 weeks.

Almost 30 years after it's original release, Shirley's 'Something' album is now available for the first time in it's entirety on CD. Each and every recording still sounds as fresh and as invigorating as when first heard back in 1970. It would be no exaggeration to claim that it remains one of Shirley Bassey's finest albums in a recording career that has now spanned over four decades.

The 13 recordings here include such classics as 'Spinning Wheel' (originally recorded by Blood, Sweat & Tears), The Doors' 'Light My Fire', 'Yesterday I Heard The Rain', 'Easy To Be Hard' from the rock musical 'Hair', What About Today?' (which Shirley used as her opening song during live performances around that time), 'You And I' from the film musical 'Goodbye Mr. Chips', and 'My Way' which still brings the house down today, whenever Shirley performs it in concert.

For good measure this collection also features Shirley's recording of 'Fool On The Hill', a Top 50 hit in early 1971, and the first time that she had ever recorded a Lennon & McCartney song.

Shirley Bassey is Britain's most successful female recording artist ever, with many superb albums and singles to her credit. This album however played a prticularly important role in her career, and its arrival on CD can only be welcomed by Shirley's legions of loyal fans.


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