tremble clef

Friday, May 11, 2007

Shirley Bassey, "The Living Tree (Stuart Crichton Mix)" (2007)/"Easy Thing To Do (Nightmares On Wax Mix)" (2001)

It's hard to improve, when it comes to describing Shirley Bassey's voice and demeanor, on the comment by a wag from the Popjustice message board, which memorably and hilarously describes her as "the vocal equivalent of being shot in the face at close range."

I myself quite enjoy being thus shot, sometimes. Her new single does the job with a saw-off shotgun: a cover of a song by Never The Bride (the oft-repeated story is here, for instance), the track is classic Bassey. Which is to say: over the top, with a defiant fuck-you lyric ("Picture this: when you wake up in the morning/And I kiss, your sorry ass/What would I miss?/There's nothing I can think of, as I leave"). I like the Stuart Crichton mix the best: it keeps the song under the 4-minute mark, speeds the tempo up a wee bit, and really punches up the James Bond/David Arnoldisms. Listen to the orchestral stabs at the end of the first verse, and the subsequent swell of the strings: if you don't throw your hands up in the air in a melodramatic vogue-like pose, you're a stronger man than I. Albeit less of a tranny.

And yet, weirdly enough, from the remix CD from 2001 that in many ways revitalized interest in Bassey, I find myself gravitating -- nowadays, but even when the CD was first released -- towards two songs that are pretty muted. The Nightmares On Wax mix of "Easy Thing To Do," and the Groove Armada mix of "Never Never Never" both find Bassey in a more melancholic mood. Although Bassey continues to overenunciate, charmingly, her words, there are no vocal acrobatics. That would be, you know, the easier thing to do, but Bassey instead hits the title phrase the softest of all. "And the easy thing to do, is love." It's a contrary vocal for a contrary sentiment.


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