CD Review: From Malaysia!

Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook
Artist: Bette Midler
Reviewer: Goh Ee Koon

THIS album is all about nostalgia as the irrepressible Bette Midler ropes in her old piano accompanist Barry Manilow (they worked the New York circuit together in the early day of their careers) and pays tribute to one of their musical heroes.

The dominant style of this album is quite different from that of the girl-next-door vibe exuded by the late singer. The orchestrations are downright opulent, and Midler and Manilow (who co-produces this album) offer a robust set that suits Midler’s powerful voice. One of the strongest aspects of this album is Midler’s style, which is warm, big-hearted and full of life. She brings a charming earthiness to most of the songs.

The album is gives us an interesting insight into Midler’s and Manilow’s comfortable relationship, which is apparently still thriving after all these years (the banter in On a Slow Boat to China bears testament to this). Some hip shaking occurs in the robust Mambo Italiano as well as Sisters, on which Midler duets with Linda Ronstadt. Their voices play off admirably against each other and the song comes off as an elegant remake.

The best songs, though are ones Midler tackles alone. Great examples of these include You’ll Never Know, Hey There and a sure-voiced Tenderly. Nice for a foot-tapping evening, this.

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