Courier-Gazette – Rockland, ME
Nov. 4, 2003
by Tom Von Malder
Bette Midler: Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook (Columbia, 30:58). What
is this, a country album? Just kidding, but it sure clocks in like one. Midler, aided by producer/arranger-in-tandem Barry Manilow (he works with Jorge Calandrelli, Ray Ellis and Robbie Buchanan on three apiece and with Patrick Williams on two), sings 11 songs performed by the late, great Clooney from 1951 to 1958.
There is a reunion factor here; Manilow played piano for Midler’s early shows at the baths in New York City. For some reason, Manilow only plays piano on one track. Of course, once Clooney sang a song, it was hers; so Midler relies more on the novelty songs, such as “Come On-A My House,” “Mambo Italiano” and “This Ole House” – the latter two being among the album’s best.
Midler sings “On a Slow Boat To China” with Manilow, “Sisters” with Linda Ronstadt and duets with herself on “Hey There,” again all winners. But there aren’t many chances taken here either. B+