Today’s POP RESCUE is the 2000 The Remix Album: Diamonds Are Forever by Dame Shirley Bassey. Is this album like a collection of glistening Diamonds, or would you want to light a fire under it? Read on…
Hot on the heels of the success found by Tom Jones‘ Reload album, Bassey released this 10 track remix album.
The album opens with the lone single from this project – Where Do I Begin (awayTEAM Mix) which sadly, despite it being quite a sympathetic remix track, failed to rate in the UK singles chart.
Next up is one of what is probably the biggest Bassey hits, Goldfinger (Propellerheads Mix). It opens similarly to History Repeating, before the big familiar musical opener from this song breaks in. A new bassline, beats, some funky wah, and a few scatterings of piano are added to the track. Shirley’s vocals belt out as usual, but this remix feels a little reluctant. Even in the sleeve notes, Alex Gifford of The Propellerheads is even quoted as saying ‘What can you do but screw it up?’. Remixing Goldfinger is a mistake.
Next up is Bassey’s version of The Doors‘ track Light My Fire, again another great track in its own right. This time, Kenny Dope is on remixing duties, and he’s gentle with it. This mix works, because it feels fairly hands-off.
This is followed up by Diamonds Are Forever (Mantronik 007 Mix) in which of course, Bassey shines. Mantronix does appear to switch a keyboard demo on, and press the ‘fill’ button a few times after a few opening bars. The only real redeeming feature of this mix is the repetition of the ‘diamonds are forever, forever, forever’ line.
Easy Thing To Do (Nightmares On Wax) is up next, and this is a Bassey track that I don’t recognise. It’s the first ballad on the album, and it’s fairly chill-out. Inoffensive and fairly forgettable really.
Some heavy beats usher in the Never Never Never (Groove Armada Mix), pretty much in tune with Groove Armada‘s sound at the time (this was released a year after their Vertigo album). The remix is kind of lost on it. Bassey’s vocals have been affected, and feel a bit like they are playing second-fiddle to the track itself (as if they were just shoe-horned into an existing vocal-less track).
Shirley’s big camp-classic gets the remix treatment next – Big Spender (Wild Oscar Remix)… and this, along with the opening track, is probably the best remix here. It’s very fast, but suitably so and the song feels like it’s been built on.
Next up, is Spinning Wheel (DJ Spinna Remix), which is a pretty funky track, but i’m not familiar enough to really spot the remixing, aside from the record scratching samples and vocal effects.
Penultimate track Light My Fire (Twelftree’s Lady Mix) is a different kind of remix than Kenny Dope’s, and feels like it was much more of a remix, rather than sympathetic update to a classic.
If You Go Away (DJ Skymoo Mix) closes the album, and it’s builds up and up, and is a perfect album finale, although its remix feels a bit dated now. It does at least allow Shirley to close the remix in the same way as the normal track – with just her vocals against a guitar.
Whilst on paper, this probably sounded like a good idea – pitching another Welsh powerful voice against modern artists, which had worked so well for Tom Jones, I think that it is evident that ultimately, classic Bassey tracks shouldn’t be messed with.
Her recordings act as classics. They are benchmarks in stylistic music or a certain era and of a certain type of performer. Only Wild Oscar, the awayTEAM, and to some degree, Twelftree too, achieve something good here, and I’ve never heard of them since.
Could have been amazing, but it misses the mark.
- POP RESCUE 2014 RATING: 2 / 5
- 2000 UK CHART POSITION: #62
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.00 from an RSPCA charity store.