The legend that is Dame Shirley Bassey began life in Tiger Bay, Cardiff, the daughter of a Nigerian father and English mother. Shirley was the youngest of seven children and despite her parents divorcing when she was very young, she enjoyed a close family relationship.
Already established as a star by virtue of strident big-voiced romps through the likes of Kiss me, Honey Honey, Kiss Me and As Long As He Needs Me, in 1962 Shirley Bassey embarked on a ten-day British tour in the company of leading American arranger/conductor Nelson Riddle.
Famous for his work with Judy Garland, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra, Riddle was available to work with Bassey as a result of Sinatra’s label move to Reprise, which meant that the singer and his arranger (who was under contract to Sinatra’s previous label, Capitol) were unable to continue their partnership.
The Welsh belter and Riddle hit it off so well that they quickly hatched plans for a studio collaboration: days after the tour ended they started recording the album Let’s Face The Music.
Despite the speed at which they worked (the arrangement for What Now My Love? was written by Riddle on the morning of the recording, with parts of the orchestral score arriving midway through the session) the American’s sympathetic, understated arrangements brought out the best in Bassey, who discovered a new vocal subtlety for masterful interpretations of such standards as Let’s Fall In Love, I Get A Kick Out Of You and the title song.
The album was a major success when issued in December 1962.