Originally scheduled for release in early April BGO’s latest reissue is finally here. Was it worth the wait? It certainly was! This is the eleventh release that BGO have given Bassey fans and I for one am so grateful to Andy Gray for doing these releases. EMI have neglected Shirley’s back catalogue which in my opinion is a disgrace. They have the rights to a wealth of her recorded material but constantly when they do decide to release a ‘new’ album they stick to the same material. EMI own the rights to Shirley’s recordings on both the Columbia and UA labels. Her Philips material is now out of copyright and we have had quite a number of CDs released containing her early recordings. BGO have given us most of her UA releases which have been professionally remastered and repackaged with original artwork and usually including a booklet with up to date notes. This release is no exception.
This release sees the last studio album Shirley recorded for the UA label and which has never been released on CD with the exception of only in the US and which has been deleted for a long time. The album ‘The Magic Is You’ has been beautifully remastered and the sound quality in my opinion is exceptional. I have very good quality equipment and speakers and a slight hiss or buzz annoys me tremendously. I got none of this. The voice is crystal clear and the orchestration is brilliant. It’s amazing how much extra you hear which you never did when played on vinyl or the other versions of some of the recordings which EMI supposedly remastered and released on some compilation CD albums. Although it’s Disc 2 I decided to play ‘The Magic Is You’ album first as I wanted to see what the quality was like. I was not at all disappointed and have to be honest and say I played the CD twice before I played ‘Thoughts Of Love’ on Disc 1. When I first heard the album all those years back when initially released on vinyl I really didn’t know what to make of the disco version of ‘This Is My Life’. I wasn’t keen on it on the first hearing and was dreading the rest of the album. I didn’t want a disco album! When ‘Better Off Alone’ started I was totally bewitched and remained that way for the rest of the album. I’ve always loved this album and this CD will be played many times. It’s already on my ipod and will be played in the car. I love the haunting ‘As We Fall In Love Once More’, it makes me go cold when I listen to it. I much prefer the versions of two songs on this album to the ones she re-recorded later for other albums. ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ and ‘The Greatest Love Of All’ are far superior recordings on this release. The latter has always been one of my favourite Bassey recordings. I remember seeing her in concert in Nottingham where she announced she was going to sing it live for the very first time and it was totally spellbinding. She received a well deserved standing ovation after it. It’s amazing how playing these songs can conjure up so many happy memories. She also sang ‘The Magic Is You’ that night which a friend who was with me had so wanted her to sing. I didn’t think she would and told her not to expect it. She was absolutely thrilled when she did and needless to say her evening was made and she went from the concert really pleased. I’m convinced she thought Shirley had sung it just for her! This CD ends with the US Disco version of ‘This Is My Life’ as a bonus track. It was re-recorded and remixed by Rick Gianatos and featured new vocals from Shirley. The producers of the album had nothing at all to do with this track. This is my very favourite disco version of ‘This Is My Life’ and I’m so pleased that it has been released on CD after all this time. Rick was also responsible for her recording of ‘Copacabana’ which would be great to have on CD also. ‘The Magic Is You’ was the last studio album Shirley did for UA but they issued another compilation album (What I Did For Love) as their last ever they release as she was no longer signed to the label but her 1979 TV series was being screened.
Disc 1 of this set is the album ‘Thoughts Of Love’. This was originally released in 1976. With the exception of the bonus track all have previously been remastered and released on other CDs by BGO. Once again I was pleased with the sound but obviously the highlight of the CD was the added bonus track. It’s the European disco single version of ‘This Is My Life’. Never before available on CD it is nice to have. Altogether this is a great addition to the Bassey collection. Thank you very much to BGO for another brilliant release. This is a must buy for all Bassey fans!
Most of you are aware that in January 2012 Dame Shirley will celebrate her 75th birthday. It would be terrific if we could get the ‘Japan ’77’ album, ‘Runaway’, ‘Copacabana’ and other recordings never released (there are some recordings in EMI vaults still) , the Italian recordings and alternative versions of songs on CD. I would love BGO to do a special package for her 75th year as the quality of their releases usually outshine all others. Maybe Andy Gray is reading this!! In any case I would really like to say a big ‘Thank you’ to Andy for giving Bassey fans the releases he has.
Below are scans of inside the booklet: