Diana Dors is one of my all-time favourite actresses. She was seen as the British answer to Hollywood blonde bombshells like Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield (in fact, her film career predated Jayne's and she began at the same time as Marilyn in 1947). She was known for her peroxide glamour and brazen sex appeal. She was widely held to be a fine actress who was under-utilised by the British film industry at the time and never really found fame in Hollywood. As she grew older and became more matronly, she turned to more character roles and roles in the UK sexploitation movies of the late 70s as well as writing several books. (She also appeared as the Fairy Godmother in the video to Adam Ant's Prince Charming and was featured on the album cover for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and a Smiths compilation that was released after her death). Sadly she died in the early 80s or I think we would have seen her do more TV work and maybe find success in a TV soap like Barbara Windsor did.
She recorded a couple of songs in the early 1950s before recording her first and only album in 1960 supported by several nightclub appearances around the world. She did release a few more singles over the years on different record labels but this CD is a straightforward reissue of her album and doesn't contain any bonus tracks. The album features a selection of swing/big band/easy listening songs including standards like Let There Be Love (I'm not sure if some of the other songs were recorded by other artists). The music is provided by the Wally Stott Orchestra who provide a competent and classy accompaniment to Diana's smooth vocals. Wally Stott worked with the likes of Shirley Bassey and Scott Walker and went on to win Emmy Awards for composing TV scores.
Diana performs her vocals well, demonstrating a sassy confidence on the swing numbers and purring like a sultry sex kitten on the slower numbers. You can choose to see this album as kitsch or camp if you wish but I don't think it makes it any less marvellous. I think what lifts it above a standard swing album of the era are some fabulously clever lyrics and Diana's assured delivery over music that sparkles and swings in all the right places.
Sanctuary Records are also to be commended for doing an excellent job with this reissue (although as I said I wish they had included her other singles). They've kept the gatefold sleeve (with a cover shot of Diana looking suitably va-va-voomish) and lipstick red of the original vinyl release and included a booklet giving an overview of her career and featuring some gorgeous photos. Personally, I'm delighted this album has finally been reissued. Hearing how good it is makes me wish Diana had recorded more albums but at least she gave this one perfect moment of blonde pop seduction.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN MAY 2008.