Warner Bros 9 47078-2 Pop/Vocals
Midler is a very talented woman who unfortunately doesn't make particularly
good records. Despite having a firm grasp on the classic American
songbook, good taste and a whopping sense of humor, her biggest
hits have been pseudo-inspirational Disney-type ballads like Wind
Beneath My Wings. In the name of diversity, her albums are musically
all over the playing field, rarely scoring a goal. On those occasions
when she does, you cheer, but you'd need to be a huge fan to be
satisfied with her output of the last few years, especially in comparison
to her first two albums or her live performances.
new album, Bathhouse Betty, certainly looks promising and
as usual there are a few good moments but too often she's appealing
to her Wind Beneath My Wings audience or she's in way over
off the bat the opening number, Leonard Cohen's Song of Bernadette,
suffers from a trite contemporary ballad arrangement. Cohen's lyrics
keep things from getting overly sweet. Nothing can save the other
"inspirational" ballads like That's How Love Moves and the
blatant Wind Beneath My Wings remake, My One True Friend.
Beautiful is perhaps the most troublesome track on the album.
This was a minor hip-hop hit in 1993 by Uncanny Alliance, a young
black girl's declaration of self-worth that was surprisingly uplifting.
In Midler's hands, it becomes the whine of the Jewish American Princess.
She's wise to switch from a hip-hop to disco beat, but it's hard
to imagine this becoming a dance floor hit with Midler's mugging
and squeaking. Bette "rocking out" either as Janet Jackson with
Big Socks or as a blues singer on One Monkey Don't Stop
No Show, is not a pretty thing.
a positive note, there are a few nice tracks that should have been
the foundation for a better album. Ukulele Lady is pleasant
but adds nothing to the definitive Hilo Hattie recording or even
the oddly sweet Ethel Merman version. Boxing and Laughing
Matters are unusually intelligent modern compositions with thoughtful
lyrics and neo-cabaret arrangements. I Sold My Heart to the Junkman
is short, sweet and straightforward and would be ideal on an album
fairness to Midler, what's a diva to do? She's probably not ready
to be put out to pasture and make better records on a smaller independent
label, but at the same time, she's too mature, intelligent and out
of touch with current trends to make contemporary pop music. She's
not alone in her dilemma. Quite loudly, Barbra Streisand is making
much worse music. Celine Dion and Mariah Carey might actually have
good voices if they'd stop mixing their treacle songs with their
bad Aretha imitations and just sing. In fact, when she asks us (and
surely she will), our advice to Midler will be, "Shut up and sing."
The Look of Love:
The Burt Bacharach Collection
Rhino R2 75339
can be incredibly potent in conjuring up memories. This new retrospective
of Burt Bacharach presents songs and prepubescent memories that
haven't entered our 30-something mind for years. At the age of 10,
we fancied ourselves a major songwriter waiting to be discovered.
Our most important work was Ode to Susan, written and performed
on our clarinet in tribute to a lovely classmate. It was during
this time that Burt Bacharach was at his peak and we distinctly
remember thinking that Bacharach had written all the best songs
already, and somehow if he hadn't put those particular notes together,
eventually we would have. Damn you, Burt Bacharach! Being that Bacharach
was so prolific, we put our song writing talents on the back burner
and proceeded to write our memoirs, I Only Wanted Everything.
We're still "shopping" for a publisher.
Burt Bacharach renaissance is here in full swing, thanks to the
boredom of the Lounge set looking to broaden their horizons and
the recent collaboration with Elvis Costello. We've heard Bacharach
compared to Gershwin and Mozart recently and this makes us chuckle.
He is awfully good as a pop songwriter and his productions were
more often than not infectious and classy in a late 1960s manner.
It's nothing short of amazing to look over the titles of this collection
and think that one man wrote all these melodies. In addition to
all the Dionne Warwick songs we all know, we were surprised that
Bacharach also wrote Wives and Lovers, (The Man Who Shot) Liberty
Valence and Blue on Blue. What's even more surprising
is that listening to the collection as a whole, the music has an
incredible feeling of melancholy.
bulk of the three-disc collection is a wonderful time capsule of
1960s and early ‘70s pop at its best. It's controlled, gorgeous
and completely at odds with a new generation that would change popular
music, for better and for much worse, forever.
Any Place I'm Going
House of Blues 5141613432 Blues
happens when a classic blues singer records with the slick production
values of a mainstream pop record? If its a project like the soundtrack
to the Blues Brothers, it's a mess. If it's a young buck
like Robert Cray or Lucky Peterson, the results end up closer to
rock than blues. When it's Otis Rush, it's surprisingly great.
latest album, Any Place I'm Going, hasn't left our CD player
for days. Noted as a great guitar player ever since his 1956 Chess
hit, I Can't Quit You Baby, he also possesses one of those
thick, dreamy voices that could probably withstand substandard material.
This album has an almost unnaturally clean sound but the arrangements
are strong and never resort to the Las Vegasy-sound that has marred
other blues men trying to cross over. There's never a forced groove
on the upbeat numbers, but it's really on the slower tracks, where
Rush gets to show off his voice, that Any Place I'm Going
shines. Laughin' and Clownin', Walking the Back Streets
and Crying and Part Time Love are all classic slow blues,
introduced by the drums, followed by a guitar solo and then going
into traditional blues form. With a master like Otis Rush, the result
Los Super Seven
RCA AO7863-67689-2 Latin / Pop
often we hear hype about albums that usually end up pretty dismal.
We remember when songstress Basia first burst on the scene as a
solo act after her run with Matt Bianco. Reviewers citing press
releases described her as a wonderful combination of jazz, pop and
Brazilian music. Well, she may have listened to jazz, but she was
in no way a jazz singer. Many of her tunes featured a lot of gentle
percussion, so we suppose that makes her Brazilian.
been a lot of hype about Los Super Seven and we were prepared for
the worst. What a nice treat when the hype machine works in our
favor! The album is a laid-back session featuring the best and most
famous of today's Tejano musicians. We were expecting something
along the lines of the late Selena or supergroup Mazz, but
instead, we feel as if we were invited to a really fine Texas barbeque.
The music is Tejano with cumbias, rancheras and even a touch of
mariachi thrown in.
feeling is very casual, from the guitar playing to the vocals (which
might grate on listeners more accustomed to slick professionals),
but it's never sloppy. The only problem we can foresee is trying
to find more rootsy Tejano music of this caliber. Let's hope there's
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