Mar 27, 2008

Shirley Bassey's "You Only Live Twice" Recording Released In America

Single On The Way?

I missed this, but last week Dame Shirley Bassey's latest album, Get the Party Started, was finally released in the United States on Decca--nearly a year after its initial UK release. As I mentioned then, the album is most notable to Bond fans for containing Dame Shirley's first officially released stab at the best female vocal Bond theme she didn't record to begin with, "You Only Live Twice." The album (and the song) has been available to American fans on iTunes for quite a while, but now they can buy the physical CD. It's certainly worth getting--but not really for the reason I initially assumed.

The album, a collection of new recordings and remixes of old favorites, isn't thoroughly satisfying overall as Bassey's Remix Album, but it does make a good listen! She and her producers manage to make nearly all the songs sound like Bond songs... except for "You Only Live Twice!" Mark De Clive Lowe's remix slows the song down and gives it a boring adult-contemporary feel with a rather annoying jazz flute sound. While Bassey's own signature vocal is as captivating as ever, I must confess to being disappointed by the overall track. I'd love to hear someone else's remix, or the Dame's original, un-tampered-with vocal, because "light jazz flute" and "Bond song" just don't go together. On the plus side, as I just mentioned, nearly every other song does boast that brassy Bassey sound we expect from her best Bond themes, including the very Bondian single "The Living Tree" and the titular Pink cover "Get the Party Started." I had misgivings about the latter track when I first saw the tracklist for this album a year ago, but Dame Shirley blew me away with her take. She really made the song her own, as if it were written for her. Every Bond fan should have this and "The Living Tree" (which could easily have been a Bond theme itself) on their iPod, and the album contains some other gems as well.

While both the songs I mentioned have been popular singles in Britain (and the Pink cover is currently burning up American dance charts), the American disc interestingly sports a sticker promoting "You Only Live Twice." This is interesting, because those stickers usually point out the singles. Does this mean that YOLT is going to be released as a single here in the US? Let's hope. If so, I may yet get that new remix or original version I was longing for as a B-side!


Anonymous said...

i checked out this release - and got to disagree with your review. for me, i rather like how you only live twice was remixed in a whole different style - treated more as a song rather than "it has to be bond"... sounds like dame bassey singing a lounged-out brazilian song... lovely :)

bish8 said...

I agree with the previous post regarding Bassey's take on You Only Live Twice on this release -- it has a great lounge sound to it. Of course, perhaps I feel this way because of my love of lounge music.

Tanner is right on the money, however, regarding The Living Tree - Bond all the way!

Tanner said...

I'm certainly glad to hear that you guys like it, but I'm afraid I've got to stand by what I wrote. I love lounge music too, but just can't get into that mix of that song. Believe me, I want to love a Shirley Bassey version of YOLT--and I certainly don't require fidelity to the original to appreciate a cover--but this one doesn't do it for me. YOLT is a slower song than GF or DAF to begin with, in the sublime Nancy Sinatra version, and I would have appreciated a different, sped-up, brassier, Bassified take more than this one. I remain hopeful that we'll see a single of this with some alternative mixes, and then hopefully I can find one I like!

I like the Bjork cover of the song very much, and I also enjoy the Natacha Atlas version that uses the same David Arnold orchestration, but Bjork's singing makes her take more ethereal and strange--more different--than Atlas' more straightforward cover.

Above all, I still dream of one day hearing a good version of Bassey Sings Bond. Those rumors that it was going to be redone with full orchestral backings were tantalizing. I'd particularly love to hear the Dame's take on You Know My Name, The World Is Not Enough (which both seem like perfect fits) and A View to a Kill (a decidedly odder one)!