This Is My Life: The Greatest Hits
Not to be confused with the 2000/2001 Music International best-of compilation which utilizes the same title and features that tune along with other Bassey favorites, this is the 12-song 1968 release from a day when all these performances by the authoritative singer were kept under the three-minute mark. The end melody of the Lesley Bricusse/Anthony Newley tune "The Joker" from the musical production of The Roar of the Greasepaint is right out of the "he loves gold" ending from "Goldfinger," and putting it next to Batman composer Neal Hefti's "I Must Know" is pretty clever -- from the Joker to Batman's Hefti co-write. "I Must Know" is a swinging bossa nova which Eydie Gorme could have dueted on nicely here, and the Sid Feller arrangements embellish Dave Pell's first-rate production, work which gives Bassey's fantastic voice a dynamic platform -- one that doesn't interfere with her passionate expression. "This Is My Life (La Vita)" is over the top, a performance which should have been huge on America's radios. That 1965's "Goldfinger" was her only chart hit in the states is more of a statement on how unfair Top 40 was (and has always been). Shirley Bassey is no one-hit wonder; her movie soundtracks took care of that and delivered her voice to millions when transistors refused to. Tony Hatch's Top 25 chart song for Petula Clark, "Who Am I," is covered so faithfully you'd think Hatch had produced this version, and the pop sounds are a nice change of pace from the show tune presentation of "Funny Girl." Putting the theme from that motion picture next to a driving version of Bobby Hebb's "Sunny" works as smoothly as "The Joker" next to "I Must Know" -- though she gives Hebb's classic the powerful hold-the-last-note move that made "Goldfinger" so much fun. When Bassey's not making a statement like "I Must Know" or "This Is My Life," there are questioning tunes -- "Where Is Tomorrow?" or "Who Am I?"; the expressionist may be singing material written by other people, but the way she spins them across her album is the real magic she couples with her voice and spirit. When Janis Joplin put her soul on the grooves of a record, she spoke in a language that went beyond the words. Shirley Bassey does that here on This Is My Life, an album that speaks on many levels. Let there be no doubt this is a great album from one of the greats. ~ Joe Viglione, Rovi
Track samples provided courtesy of iTunes
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