BetteBack Review: Broken Blossom

Mister D: I remember when I bought this LP I absolutely loved it, but this review was pretty much indicative of other notable reviewers at the time. It was always the same old complaint…that seeing Bette live did not transfer well to recordings and that she had trouble picking material. Personally, I liked that all her CD’s were all over the place…to me it showed variety and how she could conquer almost any style. For this recording, she did turn down “Gee Whizz” which became a hit for Bernadette Peters and “Someone That I Used To Love” a Natalie Cole major hit. How did you/do you feel about this recording?

Rolling Stone Magazine
“Broken Blossom’ material a mess
BETTE MIDLER: “Broken Blossom” (Atlantic SD 19151) 2 Stars.

Bette Midler could have been a contender – she seems to have settled, as a recording artist at least, for being a mere pretender.

On vinyl, her greatest talent is proving to be an ability to outstrip her own-mediocrity. Her first four albums were plagued by problems of material and inconsistent production: “Broken Blossom.” her fifth, uses Brooks Arthur (and Bones Howe, for one track) to solve the production problem, but the material is a mess.

Aside from her duet with Tom Waits, “I Never Talk to Strangers,” and the Ronettes obscure “Paradise,” most of those songs are founded on a misapprehension of Midler’s performing strengths. “La Vie En Rose” is boring, “Empty Bed Blues” a nice try but reveals an utter lack of blues feeling, “Red” the most mediocre sort of hardrock, and so forth – The pop songs are OK. but nothing here touches the best of “Streisand Superman,” for one instance.

If Midler could, perhaps, settle on one musical style per LP – let her scope reveal itself over the span of her work – she might have a fighting chance. As it is, I’d rather watch her on TV.

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2 thoughts on “BetteBack Review: Broken Blossom

  1. I didn’t become a Bette fan until 1993 (age 16). For those of us trying to catch up on what we missed in the past during those pre-internet days, part of the fun was scouring record stores and seeing what would turn up. The back-cover notes on No Frills had a full listing of all of Bette’s previous recordings (for some reason), but the one I could never find in my area was Broken Blossom. One summer day I took a three-hour drive to St. Louis to see the Experience the Divine tour, only to find out upon arriving that it had been rescheduled due to illness. My sister and her husband took me out to dinner instead, and we ended up at a mall, where I ran into a random record store and found the album that had been eluding me. It certainly made up for missing the concert!

    Is it one of my favorite Bette albums? Not by a long shot. And yet it gave us Paradise and La Vie En Rose, and in looking back on it, the only tracks I really don’t care for are Daybreak and Red. I think that overall it was a good release, even if it did lack that extra something special to put it on the charts.

    In another funny story, I was in Chicago about three years ago, and found myself in an old school record store with some friends. It was a fairly alternative place, though, and I couldn’t find any Bette on vinyl. They did have album covers lining the walls, though, and what did I finally spot in the back but Broken Blossom. I got all excited, and walked right up to it. As I got closer, I saw that someone had affixed a round gold sticker to the lower right corner that said “SUCKS!” I know I should have been offended, but it was just too hilarious. The fact that someone cared enough to sticker it, and that the record store hung it up anyway, just cracked me up.

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