The Performance

The Performance
Studio album by Shirley Bassey
Released 9 November 2009
Recorded 2009
Genre Pop
Length 42:11
Label Geffen
Producer David Arnold
Shirley Bassey chronology
Get the Party Started
The Performance
Hello Like Before
Professional ratings
Review scores
The Times[1]
BBCfavourable [2]
Daily Telegraph [3]
The Scotsman [4]
The Observer [5]

The Performance is an album by singer Shirley Bassey, released on 9 November 2009. It is her first studio album of original compositions in three decades. English film composer David Arnold co-produced the entire album with Mike Dixon. Songs on the album were written specifically for Bassey by renowned writers such as Rufus Wainwright, Gary Barlow and Pet Shop Boys. The album gained favourable reviews and was certified gold in the UK for sales of over 100,000 copies.


David Arnold initially contacted Bassey about recording an album together following her successful appearance at Glastonbury festival in 2007. Having entered semi-retirement and not toured for a few years, Bassey was unsure until she heard that a number of famous songwriters were keen to contribute to the album. With artists such as Manic Street Preachers, Gary Barlow, Nick Hodgson (of Kaiser Chiefs), and Pet Shop Boys involved, Bassey felt honoured by the contributions and agreed to do the album. The first song ready for the album was the Rufus Wainwright composition, "Apartment". The recording took place during 2009 with the orchestral arrangements taking place some time before the vocals were laid down - a process Bassey was unfamiliar with. The vocal sessions took place in Grouse Lodge Studios, Westmeath, Ireland.[6]

The recording of the album became the subject of a BBC documentary titled The Girl from Tiger Bay named after the song written by James Dean Bradfield and Nicky Wire of Manic Street Preachers for the project. [7] Of the songs, Bassey commented that they were very different from anything she had recorded before, with songs such as "After the Rain" being in a much lower key than she would normally use, while the Arnold composition "As God is My Witness" was almost scrapped due to a disagreement about the arrangement. Gary Barlow said that he had a struggle to complete his song, "This Time", and as Bassey found it lyrically too long, some sections were abandoned. Barlow came into the studio to play it to them, having been unable to record a demo in time. The only female writer, KT Tunstall revealed that her song "Nice Men" was originally titled "Nice Boys", but thought that a 72-year-old woman referring to 'boys' was perhaps distasteful. Of the Pet Shop Boys composition, "The Performance of My Life", Bassey remarked that the lyrics hit close to home and moved her to tears during recording. Songwriter Neil Tennant said that it was about a diva, who lived her life on stage, but was not specifically about Bassey. At the end of recording, Bassey said that the experience was both "frustrating, but exhilarating".[8] Of the finished album, she has said to be "ecstatic".

No singles were released from the album, although separate sources named both "Apartment" and "This Time" as the first release. Ultimately, neither was made available. The album spent 8 weeks on the UK albums chart, peaking at No.20.[9] The album was certified gold by the BPI for sales of over 100,000 copies in the UK indicating that while it didn't chart as highly as her previous album, it ultimately outsold it.[10]

Track listing

No. TitleWriter(s) Length
1. "Almost There"  Tom Baxter 4:52
2. "Apartment"  Rufus Wainwright 3:29
3. "This Time"  Gary Barlow 4:10
4. "I Love You Now"  Nick Hodgson 3:45
5. "Our Time Is Now"  John Barry, Don Black 3:10
6. "As God is My Witness"  David Arnold, David McAlmont 4:33
7. "No Good About Goodbye"  Arnold, Don Black 4:21
8. "The Girl from Tiger Bay"  Manic Street Preachers, Arnold 4:17
9. "Nice Men"  KT Tunstall 2:53
10. "After the Rain"  Richard Hawley 3:05
11. "The Performance of My Life"  Neil Tennant, Chris Lowe 3:33

Chart history

Chart (2009) Peak
UK Albums Chart 20
Greece[11] 37
Germany[12] 81


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