You wouldn’t expect a song from a 70-year-old artist to be ripping up the club — but, there it is. As I write this, septagenarian Dame Shirley Bassey is at number three (with a bullet) on the “Billboard” Hot Dance Club Play chart with a cover of Pink’s “Get The Party Started.”
Once you get past the Welsh diva’s age, the big, brassy remake’s success isn’t that surprising. Bassey sings the hell out of the song. Her thick as molasses voice mines the cheeky lyrics for every last bit of attitude and her vampish snigger as she belts the tune’s money line, “I’ll be burning rubber, you’ll be kissing my ass,” is a moment of undiluted pop pleasure.
Even better, “Get The Party Started” is the title track for a fabulous new collection of Bassey remixes (with one new song, “The Living Tree”) that’s just been issued stateside by Decca Records.
A cadre of remixers including NorthxNWest, Bugz In The Attic, Phil Asher and Mark de Clive-Lowe reinterpret such Bassey classics and repertoire staples as “I Who Have Nothing,” “This Is My Life,” “I Will Survive” and the James Bond theme “You Only Live Twice,” originally recorded by Nancy Sinatra for the 1967 film. (Bassey made three Bond songs — “Goldfinger,” “Diamonds Are Forever” and “Moonraker” — but none are included here.)
The tracks are reworked into such styles as Electro (“Big Spender”), Broken Beat (a cover of Lionel Richie’s “Hello”), House (“Where Is The Love” — think Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway, not the Black Eyed Peas) and Drum ’N Bass (“I Who Have Nothing”). The sterling productions are a dynamic complement to Bassey’s celebrated diva wail.
Bottom line: When it comes to “Get The Party Started,” the title really does say it all.
New in the racks
After performing 80 shows in 12 European countries for a staggering 1.3 million fans in 2007, pop superstar George Michael is bringing his smash 25 LIVE tour to the U.S. this summer. Michael is touring America for the first time in 17 years in support of his new career retrospective, “Twenty-Five.” In stores now, the 29-song, 2-CD set spans from Michael’s earliest hits with Wham! to his smash solo career to new duets with Paul McCartney and Mary J. Blige. Unfortunately, no Carolinas stops are scheduled for the 21-date tour. The show hits Atlanta’s Philips Arena on July 31.
Sixteen years after issuing their last album of new material, The B-52s finally return with the appropriately titled “Funplex” (Astralwerks). The good news is that Kate Pierson, Fred Schneider, Keith Strickland and Cindy Wilson haven’t lost any of their quirky gusto during the long layoff. In fact, Strickland nails it when he says the 11-track album is “loud, sexy rock and roll, with the beat pumped up to hot pink.”
The list of urban/soul/R&B artists who push the artistic envelop is lamentably short, but Erykah Badu is certainly on the roll. After a five-year break from the record bins, Badu makes up for lost time with “New Amerykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War” (UniversalMotown). With its striking soundscapes, turn-on-a-dime arrangements and confessional, stream-of-consciousness lyrics, “New Amerykah” is the definition of a headphone album.
Last November the rest of the world got a dose of “X” (Astralwerks/Capitol). Now, Kylie Minogue’s 10th album is out in the U.S. and American fans and critics are rolling along. Billboard says the new album “is stuffed with pointers as to why Kylie is one of the few pure pop artists to sustain a career into a third decade.” Agreed.
After a detour into the singer/songwriter realm, Moby’s sixth album, “Last Night,” returns the electronic auteur to the familiar territory of the dancefloor. Encompassing smiley-faced rave anthems, euro-disco, hip-hop (both old skool and underground) and downtempo, the 15-track collection is a pulsating romp through Moby’s N.Y. club kid roots.
Singer/songwriter Lizz Wright comes off like an impressive blend of Tracy Chapman and Cassandra Wilson on her rootsy third album, “The Orchard.” The project began with a set of photos taken by Wright in her rural hometown, focusing on the orchard of the title. The fluid process of writing and recording this gem stretched Wright, she says. “This record was a huge learning experience, in every way, and I think it showed me a lot about myself.”
Clash of the Titans
April is known for its rain showers, but in the world of pop music, the month is being looked to for a sales monsoon. On Apr. 15, Mariah Carey is releasing “E=MC2,” the highly anticipated follow-up to her 2005 blockbuster “The Emancipation Of Mimi.” Just two weeks later, Madonna is passing out “Hard Candy,” her new R&B-leaning set produced by Timbaland, Justin Timberlake and Pharrell Williams. Industry insiders are anxiously awaiting the first week’s album sales figures and the peak positions of the lead singles (“Touch My Body” for Mariah; “4 Minutes” for Madonna and Justin) to crown the 2008 Diva Supreme.