**** BETTE MIDLER
“BETTE MIDLER SINGS THE ROSEMARY CLOONEY SONGBOOK” (COLUMBIA)
Chicago Sun Times
A BaltoBoy Scan
What a glorious tribute indeed to one legend from another. Not a misstep along the way, as Midler’s much- matured and deeply rich vocals faithfully take charge of some of Clooney’s most beloved melodies from 1951-58.
On board for the sweet, sweet ride is her long-ago arranger-piano player — one Barry Manilow — who co-produced and arranged the whole fabulous shebang. Manilow also adds his vocal chops to a playful “On a Slow Boat to China” which aptly showcases the dynamic duo’s ability to have fun with a song and with each other’s artistic sensibilities.
With an 84-piece orchestra in tow, Midler is bold and brassy on “Come On A My House” one moment, and tugging at your heartstrings on “You’ll Never Know” the next.
There’s no stopping her by the time she gets to “Mambo Italiano,” which plays out like the sexy, jazzed romp it was born to be. She’s a spitfire on the big band duet of “Sisters” with Linda Rondstadt. And her sweetly intimate turn “White Christmas” would have melted Irving Berlin’s heart. Brava, Bette!