I Love Shirley Bassey

How can she be one of the world's most popular recording artists, and yet seem obscure at the same time? A search turns up nothing here. No mention on the 525-post, 8-year old Best Female Vocals thread.

Now normally I'm a classic rock and roll kind of guy. I love the Dead and Pink Floyd, etc, etc, and I only discovered her recently via YouTube. Now you can't sum up a 50-year show business career with one video, but here's a start: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51Wg6k9cWhM. Anyway, I have purchased several of her albums and she just knocks me out. The 50's and 60's stuff is before my time, so while I think it sounds good, it's not really my cup of tea. So far her 1970 album "Something" is my favorite, and I love everything forward from that point!

What I love about her: First and foremost that voice. Then her relationship with her audience. They love her, she loves them. She's not all haughty and stuck up like Diana Ross. Shirley's quite sexy, unlike Barbra Streisand, who has zero sex appeal in my opinion (YMMV). And Shirley's sexy without being borderline crass like Cher. The audience comes first with Shirley, not her own ego. I am mesmerized!!
I agree, Nyctc7 I've always loved her voice, but never knew whar a knockout she is. I'll have to see if I can track down some lp's of hers.


I also agree with you. You have to see her live to understand just how good she is (Nancy Wilson is another artist who fits this bill). It makes me wonder if her producers and handlers short change her when she gets into the studio.

Thanks for the opening post!

Goldfinger is a master piece of vocal sensuality.
Here in the UK she's basically seen as an old school singer in the Show Business style.
Big powerful voice but never seen as an important artist although she played the Glastonbury Festival a couple of years ago.
I can't see mee rushing to buy out any of her records.
Ben_campbell, I appreciate your response, it helps to explain my comment that despite her popularity she seems to be somewhat obscure. I'm gratified that I got at least a few positive comments above, as my inquiries were pretty much ignored on audioasylum.com. On one thread I got one respone that "She's an acquired taste; people either love her voice + style, or hate it." Another thread likewise pretty much elicted a lone response. OTOH, there are tons of positive responses on her YouTube videos. Put me in the "I Love Her" camp.

Never seen as an important artist? Hmmm...

1972 - Best Female Singer - TV Times, UK
1973 - Best Female Singer - TV Times, UK
1974 - Best Female Entertainer - American Guild of Variety Artists
1976 - Best Female Singer - Music Week, UK
1976 - 22-day British tour to mark twenty years as a recording artist
1976 - EMI Award for twenty years as a recording artist - UK
1977 - Best British Female Singer in the Last 50 years of Recorded Sound - (BRIT Awards winner)
1977 - BBC TV show nomination for the Golden Rose of Montreux
1985 - Star of Sopot Festival (International Song Festival), Poland
1991 - Walk of Fame, Star Boulevard - plaque unveiled in Rotterdam
1993 - CBE - Commander of the British Empire
1995 - Showbusiness Personality of the Year - Variety Club of Great Britain
1996 - Europe's Lifetime Achievement Award - Ceremony held in Germany
1997 - Grammy nomination - The Birthday Concert (recorded live at Althorp Park)
1998 - Longest run by a solo artist (ten shows) - Royal Festival Hall, London
1999 - L├ęgion d'Honneur - France
1999 - DBE - Dame of the British Empire
1999 - Madam Tussaud's waxwork unveiled in London (second model in Las Vegas)
1999 - 100 most famous people of the 20th century - Hello magazine
2000 - Most Successful British Female Singer - Guinness Book of Records
2003 - Outstanding Contribution to Music - National Music Awards, UK
2003 - Woman of the Year - Western Mail Welsh Woman of the Year Awards
2004 - Greatest Black Briton, Shirley voted into the top ten - BBC
2004 - Artist for Peace Award - UNESCO
2005 - Avenue of Stars - plaque unveiled in London
2007 - Breaks Elvis Presley's record for pop longevity when "The Living Tree" charts
2008 - "Goldfinger" - United Artists single (1964) inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame
Nyctc with all due respect most of those awards just confirm what I said-she appeals to an older generation, most of her fans would be into Show Business.

There's nothing wrong with that, music is just music, you either like it or don't.
Indeed there has been a resuurgence for that type of thing in the US and UK with shows like American Idol and the X Factor.

Personally I prefer those who have played with the art form and developed it-Shirley is much loved, you can't criticise her for not giving 100% but it is not for me.
Personally I can't get a grip on her, she doesn't inhabit a song the way a Sinatra does or even a Diana Ross in her heyday.
For my generation she was something your grandparents liked and your mum and dad, if they were square enough.
A much loved British entertainer with a great voice but I think history will suggest much more.
Ben_campbell, I do agree with almost all of what you wrote. If you had asked me a couple of months ago about Shirley Bassey, I would have said she's the singer of Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever, that I'm a James Bond fan and I really love those two songs, but that's all I know. I wouldn't have known how to classify her at all. When I think of "old school" popular singers I think of Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, Perry Como, Peggy Lee, that is, as you say, music your grandparents or parents listened to. But I didn't even know enough about Shirley to place her at all.

But now that I have been introduced to her live act through the YouTube clips, I have just gone nuts over her, and I do think that she very much knows how to inhabit a song, take for example "I (Who have Nothing)." (And who can compare with Sinatra--he was in a class by himself, perhaps the greatest popular singer ever!)

But despite "Get The Party Started, "The Living Tree," and playing at Glastonbury, she does not enjoy the same current popularity of, let's say, Neil Diamond, who played Galstonbury the year after Shirley. Neil can still sell out Madison Square Garden two or three times over.

Trying to explain why I have become such a big fan so quickly is like trying to explain why I became a fan of the Grateful Dead after hearing the very first note, and how when I went to see them 30 years ago, the moment they started to play, despite my huge expectations, a big smile crossed my face and I thought, THIS IS IT. This is my kind of music. I've had the same experience with her--and as I don't expect everyone to "get" The Grateful Dead, I don't expect everyone to "get" what I see in her.