Review by Marisa Brown
Well in advance of the Christmas season, Bette Midler, perhaps in her zeal to join the ranks of other artists like Bing Crosby, Elvis, and Johnny Mathis (the latter with whom she sings the duet here, “Winter Wonderland/Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”) with famed holiday work, has come out with her first-ever Christmas album, Cool Yule. Most of the songs are covers of seasonal classics (“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “White Christmas,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” etc), though she does jump into the more religiously themed with the somber “O Come, O Come, Emanuel,” which is then offset with the Hawaiian “Mele Kalikimaka.” There’s even a Christmas version of Midler’s hit “From a Distance,” which brings in elements of “The Little Drummer Boy,” O Come All Ye Faithful,” and “Joy to the World” to the adult contemporary favorite. The Divine Miss M shows off her stuff (including a very able backing band/orchestra) on all the tracks, from the cover of Billie Holiday’s “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” to the jazzy title cut, and sounds good the whole time. Because she doesn’t add much to the songs that hasn’t already been done before, Cool Yule may not replace anyone’s Mathis holiday albums yet, but it’s still a pretty strong collection of well-done Christmas standards from a well-known and popular artist.