Fort Worth Daily Skiff
January 23, 1974
It is no news to most people that Bette Midler, the five-foot-high selfannounced queen of the truly tacky people, has come out with herÂ second album. What may surprise those people who are not followers of the Divine Miss M though, is how fine this album really is.
Last year when Bette came to Dallas in concert, not many straights had heard about her. The audience looked at least 50 per cent gay andÂ at least 35 per cent more camp. A person committed a definite faux pas if he arrived in jeans.
Though the raunch queen s name was not known to most people at TCU then (“ What’s a Bette Midler?” ), her Bobby Freeman song “ Do You Want to Dance0″ got a lot of Snack Bar juke box air time.
But it wasn’t until last semester that Bette hit it big enough to be worthy of big features in Newsweek and Time, although there wereÂ earlier, shorter mentions of her.
The story of Bette’s rise from Honolulu high school girl to guest star on Johnny Carson and regular performer at a homosexual health spaÂ where she sharpened her comic repartee, made her truly a polished performer by the time she reached the national scene.
Now, after reaching a public through concerts and two record albums, she has been quoted as saying she is tiring of her image and that it isnt really her. This is a somewhat typical lament ot stars who ride to fame on a personality they later choose to discard.
Be that as it may, her new album is good and a definite break from her first Bette complained that in her first album she was forced toÂ include material that she didn’t want, but that was supposed to sell her better to her public. The second album supposedly drops this andÂ contains only material that Bette truly feels comfortable doing.
The two best songs on the album are “ Higher and Higher (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me)” and Bob Dylan’s “ I Shall Be Released.’ Both come at the end of their respective sides. The advantage here goes to the lucky person who has seen Bette in concert. The vision of her strutting around the stage as she goes into the final crescendo of ”˜Higher and Higher” adds another dimension to the enjoyment of the song.
Whereas “ I Shall Be Released” reaches other real qualities, “ Optimistic Voices,” taken from the ”˜Wizard of Oz” soundtrack, is pure fun.
Hoagy Carmichael‘s “ Skylark” and “ Lullaby of Broadway are very definitely period pieces and it may take a few hearings to feel good with them, but they are first-rate. In fact the whole album is. If you ever get a chance to get to a Midler concert, do so. Until then, comfort yourself with her two magnificent first albums.