On The Record
by Ed Huyck
Bette Midler Sings the Peggy Lee Songbook
The Divine One continues her lucrative exploration of the great female artists of the past century on this trim collection of hot jazz and pop standards. Following in the footsteps of her Rosemary Clooney collection, Midler dives headfirst into these 10 tunes, opening with perennial favorite â€œFever,â€ and then working her way through nine more classic ditties.
Midler walks a fine line throughout the collection, as she pays homage to one of the great singers of the 20th Century, while also working to make the songs her own.
For the most part, Midlerâ€”aided again by Barry Manilow (see, heâ€™s good for something)â€”achieves both, making this 33-minute album fly by.
At her best, Midlerâ€™s subtle additions to the likes of â€œIâ€™m a Womanâ€ and â€œBig Spenderâ€ make the songs feel as if they were written last week, instead of five decades ago. And at a certain level, it is just good to hear her singing the kind of music that brought her to the dance in the first place.
Because Midlerâ€™s voice was made for this genre, Manilow and his team of musicians know that too much modern sheen ruins this kind of music, so he leaves the production sharp and clean. That only accents Midlerâ€™s voice and the power of these great songs.