BetteBack Review: The Divine Miss M ~ One Of The Year’s Best ~ December 3, 1972

Abilene Reporter News
Platter Chatter
Some of the Year’s Best
December 3, 1972

Some of this year’s best LPscame our way this week, including JONI MITCHELL‘S latest, a NEIL DIAMOND in concert double set, WAR’S third effort, an excellent HARRY CHAPIN album and one by a terrific young lady named BETTE MIDLER.

Joni Mitchell’s is titled “For the Roses” (Asylum) and includes her blossoming hit “You Turn Me On I’m a Radio.” Her voice has never been better, but best of all are her unique songs with incomparable lyrics. She uses the language, works with it and shapes it to fit her feelings.

She makes you see her images, like when she sings: “I heard it in the wind last night. It sounded like applause. Chilly now, end of summer. No more shiny hot nights. It was just the arbutus rustling and the bumping of the logs, and the moon swept down black water like an empty spotlight.” With her friends Grahman Nash and Stephen Stills helping her a bit with harmonica and guitar, she’s made what is definitely her best album to date.

Here comes Neil Diamond again, this time on a “live in concert” 2-record set done from his Aug. 24 concert at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. Titled “Hot August Night” (MCA Records‘) the album undoubtedly will be a
“must” purchase for every Diamond fan. Even if you’ve heard the songs before – “Cherry Cherry,” “Sweet Caroline,” “Play Me” and many others – the mood of the live performance makes them a bit different than you’ve ever heard them. It would have been great to be there, but these cuts definitely run a strong second best to the live concert. All the superlatives in the world woudn’t do him justice. Neil Diamond is on top now. Catch him at his peak. Like he says, “play” him.

War’s new LP is “The World Is a Ghetto” (United Artists). Once again the group dredges up the funky basics of its specialty, a jazz-rock-bluosmix tinged with sometimes Latin, s o m e t i m e s African spices, to produce an unforgettable experience in music. Haunting, hypnotic vocals are woven with thread of conga, bongos, guitar, saxophone and harmonica, resulting in a “suit” of many musical colors. Besides the title tune, they do “The Cisco Kid,” “Beetles in the Fog” – a crazy, mystical rhythm number, and several other songs you’ll enjoy.

Harry C h a p in’s career, which rose many notches with his song a few months ago about a taxi driver meeting an old flame, deserves to skyrocket in view of his newest album, “Sniper and Other Love Songs” (Elektra). The meaning arid power of his compositions promise to make them more than just passing pop tunes. If ever a song could grab you and get you into it, it’s “Sniper,” a 9:50 cut which is unmistakably based on Charles Whitman’s 1964 killing spree on the University of Texas tower. Other songs deal with lonely laisons formed in bars, a woman child whose mistaken idea of love leads to an abortion, a barefoot boy who “don’t like the concrete,” along with many other characters from the imagination or maybe the life of the talented Harry Chapin.

It’s “bring back the oldies” time again with the help of Bette Midler on “The Divine Miss M” (Atlantic). The buxom and sensuously voiced young lady leads off with a real tribute to Bobby Freeman by wrapping her warm style around “Do You Want to Dance?,” then gets into another golden goodie, “Chapel of Love.” Not all is revival, however, as Miss Midler croons Leon Russell‘s “Superstar,” “Daytime Hustler” and John Prine’s “Hello in There” before taking us back in time with a cool copy of “Leader of the Park.” No matter what she does it’s top flight, vibrant and unique – 100 per cent white soul.

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