Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys’ musical journey is a peculiar one. He grew up on hip-hop before being seduced by the likes of The Strokes, but it’s a record by Welsh singer Shirley Bassey that he credits with changing his life.
The way Bassey fell into Turner’s life was natural. He didn’t go searching for her soulful voice, and the ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ singer fell into his consciousness through happenstance. Although like most Britons, he was aware of her most notable work since childhood, however, it wasn’t until he got older that Turner began to appreciate the mercurial brilliance of Bassey.
Bassey is a national treasure and quintessentially linked with the James Bond franchise. However, it wasn’t until his twenties that Turner began to grasp the full spectrum of her career and got lost scrolling through her heavenly back catalogue.
It was a lucky incident which led to Turner discovering he loved the work of Bassey, and for sentimental reasons, it’s the first vinyl record he purchased by her, which he credits with changing his life. Although we live in a digital age, there’s still a joy to be had from holding a physical record in your hand and delicately placing it on a turntable. To this day, it is still Turner’s preferred listening method, and there’s nothing he enjoys more than listening to ‘Dangerous Games’ by Bassey.
In 2012, the frontman even told NME about his vinyl listening ritual: “When I’m at home, one of the last things I do before I leave to go on tour is to put a record on. It’s one of the first things I do when I get back again too. We listen to music every day as a band, but there’s nothing quite like sitting there with your turntable, playing a record in its entirety.”
He continued: “One of my favourite 45s is by Shirley Bassey. It’s ‘Big Spender’ on the A-side but the B-side is this song called ‘Dangerous Games’, which I’ve never really heard anybody talk about. It’s amazing, quite Bond, but I don’t think it was for a movie. I’ve always wanted to cover it, and I think it’s mad it’s just a B-side.”
Turner discovered the hidden treasure during one of his band’s early tours of the United States “in this bookshop-cum-record store in Chicago”. He added: “It’s mad what you find sometimes – I remember finding a seven-inch from our manager’s band from the ’80s, Vitamin Z, just in a random record shop in New Orleans.”
Despite all he’s achieved in his career, which has seen Turner headline Glastonbury on two occasions, he still gets a kick out of trawling through baskets in record stores and admitted: “I still get really excited by it. Don’t get me wrong, I love downloads, but nothing quite beats stumbling across something you weren’t banking on finding.”
Unfortunately, we are still waiting for the Arctic Monkeys version of ‘Dangerous Games’, but you can listen to the life-changing original by Shirley Bassey below.