The multi-talented, multi-award winning and all round good egg Bette Midler (did I big her up enough?) returns with her 25th, that’s right, 25th overall album, and with it she brings a sense of freedom that only the biggest stars can muster.
The reason I say this is because not many artists would dare do a cover album of girl groups spanning over 70 years – but that’s exactly what Bette has attempted. With a vast array of material to choose from, and with Midler’s fondness for great harmonies, she’s chosen a varying bunch here which creates a mostly fun and exhilarating collection of songs.
One Fine Day is a cover that needs no introduction and is given a more current feel with some big drum feels and bashing behind the sticks, and Bette’s voice sitting pretty over the top. He’s Sure the Boy I Love is a great duet with Darlene Love, and although is likely to be one of the less familiar tracks on the record, seeing the two Diva’s riff off each other brings the song alive in a wonderful way.
Midler also proves she can still be sleek and sexy on this record. The singer is on top form with a cracking rendition of the 1930’s classic Bei Mir Bist Du Schon by the Andrew’s Sisters, and Teach Me Tonight’s solemn and debonair filled atmosphere will have you dreaming of Bette draped over a piano as you sip on a high priced cocktail.
The album does fall off now and again when nothing new is introduced into the music however. Be My Baby is an example of this, with Bette’s vocals flawless as always, but no shining example of originality within the track. It’s a bit strange why this was put as album opener, but then again maybe it was to draw the listener in before the album grows into her own.
It’s definitely with the more drastic paths away from the original tracks that the album really hits its high points. Waterfalls is a cover of the 90s R&B classic by TLC, with Midler stripping it to its bare bones with vocals and piano. What’s hidden beneath this song, Bette brings to the surface and puts enough soul into it to make the strongest heart melt. You Can’t Hurry Love is equally impressive, drawing out a country-tinged edge to the track, which works really well in its hoedown form.
Bette sounds like she’s having fun here and with plenty of playing and tinkering with the classics, she’s managed to pull off what others have tried and failed. In fact the album has found freshness in so many areas, it’s a shame there are a couple of tracks on there that sound too similar to the originals. Its an album that will help find new life in songs everyone knows, and will have dancing the night away to the early hours.