BetteBack October 14, 1990: ‘Some Peoples Lives’ Is Good But Lacks Focus

Syracuse Herald Journal
October 14, 1990


Ever since heavy metal bands started recording slow love songs, traditional easy listening has retreated from the airwaves. A return may be imminent, however, with new releases by these two stalwarts of the form. Besides containing some music heard in the film “Postcards
from the Edge,” “Have You Seen Me Lately” is Simon’s first pop album since 1987’s smash “Coming Around Again ; it also redeems her somewhat for “My Romance,” Simon’s altogether unnecessary compilation of pre-rock standards released earlier this year.

The album’s 11 songs re-establish Simon’s gift for refreshing and unique lyrical perspectives, in this case* taking on aging (“Happy Birthday”) and broken hearts (“Better Not Tell Her,” “Not Like Him,” “The Fisherman’s Song”). The downside: with their banks of synthesizers and spots of acoustic guitar, Simon’s songs, LiiGugi’i Vrcu-Sui’ig, SuiicI AlO/fi d sameness that undercuts some truly compelling ideas.

A lack of focus is the problem on “Some People’s Lives,” Midler‘s first album of songs since 19&3’s “No Frills” – not counting her work on the “Beaches” soundtrack. Fans of her Grammy-winning “Wind Beneath My Wmgs” may be taken aback by the Caribbean poly rhythim of the opening track, “One More Round,” which bursts from the speakers like a high-tech “Iko Iko.”

It’s one of a variety of styles Midler covers on the album, ranging from the Cole Porter stomper “Miss Otis Regrets” to the spare arrangements of the title track and “He Was Too Good to Me/Since You Stayed Here” to the pop of Natalie Archangel’s “All of a Sudden.”

Midler’s singing is perfectly fine, but there’s an unfortunate anonymity to the album, with nothing that speaks of her unique, brassy personality.

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