Is this what to expect now?

Sunday 8th January saw Dame Shirley celebrate her 75th Birthday.  A great achievement.  However the day passed by without any significant acknowledgement at all.  There was a rehash interview in The Sun newspaper, a small tribute on ITV Wales in their local evening programme (these were actually on the day after her birthday) and the odd little mention on various websites etc.  To sum it all up there was absolutely nothing!

Oh I nearly forgot!  There was a CD released to celebrate the occasion!  What CD many fans ask.  Well it was ‘The Fabulous Shirley Bassey’ on the Hallmark label and it cost £2.21 (slightly more expensive now though).  It was a reissue of the 1959 album of the same name that was on the EMI Columbia label and even had the same cover.  Must mention also that all the tracks are out of copyright and I’m led to believe Dame Shirley doesn’t get a penny in royalties!

The Fabulous Shirley Bassey

As if that isn’t disappointing enough the next CD due for release in February (around the 27th) is called ‘Grand Dame Of Song’ on the Xtra label.  This one contains 23 tracks and once again all are out of copyright.

Grand Dame Of Song.

As we all are fully aware EMI had planned to issue a rather special 3 CD set called ‘Shirley’ but for reasons unknown (Dame Shirley and her legal team ignored a request for a statement) it was blocked.  There have been many suggestions as to why Dame Shirley blocked it but all I know is that it would have been a really special release for many fans to have a collection which so much care had gone into.  EMI, who are in financial difficulties, decided to honour her on her birthday and spent money collecting this set together.  All the tracks had been remastered and in spite of some fans misgivings they were complete tracks and worthy of releasing.  Dame Shirley decided to throw this honour back in EMI’s face!  Harsh words maybe but in essence that is what she has done.  Fans are wanting material they have not heard before.  The guy who was in charge of the EMI project put a message on ‘The Shirley Bassey Message Board’ explaining about the CD.  For some strange reason it was hidden amongst other messages and so most probably missed by many fans.  As it is already in the public domain then I do not see any reason why it cannot be shown here.

I am the person who put this collection together. It took many, many hours of research to find and then re-master the tracks. Some came fromn the Capital/UA vaults in the US and most of the others were at Abbey Road. The collection meant as a loving tribute to a great artiste, all of the tracks were re-mastered and I can tell you they all sound absolutely terrific. The live album is also a real find and will challenge any of her live recordings as an ultimate in concert album. We were also thinking of putting the single of ‘Guardian of the Highlands’ on the collection aswell (This is from the yet to be released film ‘Sir Billi’) Please be assured that nothing was done underhanded or for any other reason than to give the fans something special to mark her birthday in January.

It appears to me that a lot of time and effort went into the ‘Shirley’ project.  ‘Runaway’ is one of the tracks fans have been waiting so long to have on CD and the opportunity to get another of the Italian recordings also.  Tracks fans have not heard and a whole live concert also.  Many fans who have spoken to me personally have expressed their disappointment that Dame Shirley can easily block something like this which fans would love yet there are many CDs released such as the two I’ve mentioned.  Maybe she and her team cannot stop these releases but why stop something that fans would like and buy?  I counted 43 download albums on iTunes recently that had been released in 2011 on there and they all were of tracks out of copyright!  The proliferation of these recordings is beginning to distort the perception of her as a recording artist.  I spoke to someone who runs an independent record store and he was telling me he no longer stocks these CDs as people are not interested in the same material constantly being rehashed.  He states he still gets asked if any new material is being released as they are only wanting something different.  When I told him of this 3 CD set and it had been shelved he was amazed and indicated it was just the sort of release he definitely could sell.

Although I will buy the 2 CDs mentioned (I’ve already bought ‘Fabulous’) as I collect all CDs by her I hope this is not what we are going to get in the future.  There are still the Italian recordings, the Spanish album and ‘Live in Japan ’77’ to be remastered and put on CD.  Are record companies going to bother doing these if there is any chance of them being blocked?  I’m not sure but let’s hope we do get them all and sooner rather than later.

Out of interest I’ve just checked iTunes and there are 3 albums and one expected 19th January of this out of copyright material released on there since 1st January 2012!