Music And Concerts



Bette of Roses (1995)

US: Platinum
Billboard peak: # 45

Tracks: "I Know This Town" - "In This Life" - "Bottomless" - "To Comfort You" -
"To Deserve You" - "The Last Time" - "Bed Of Roses" - "The Perfect Kiss" -
"As Dreams Go By" - "It's Too Late" - "I Believe In You"

Listen To Audio Samples

Richard Corliss, Time Magazine

Behind every happy ending in country songs lies an answer song about how horrible heaven must be. Back in the pop world, though, not all love songs are about love left for dead; many are about born-again amour. On Bette Midler's new album, Bette of Roses, the songs are mostly upbeat--and the usually caustic Miss M. appears to be serious, dammit, when she sings, "The only dream that mattered had come true/ In this life I was loved by you." Optimism being ever suspect in the arts, Midler has been dished much scorn for the album. Well, pooh to those for whom a bad attitude is a singer's only prerequisite. The songs here may not be instant standards, but they allow Midler to show that in her 50th year her voice is in great shape, able to climb whole registers without sweating, and find both heart and ache in the lexicon of pop ballads.

Author Unknown, People Magazine

In the five years since her last studio album, Bette Midler has grown so familiar from TV and movies (Scenes from a Mall, For the Boys) that it's easy to confuse the Midler persona--who might be Barbra Streisand's fun andunpretentious kid sister--with Midler the singer. Her new effort reminds us that she is a lovely vocalist who can handle pop ballads with a delicate but sure grasp, as she shows on "The Perfect Kiss" and "I Believe in You." Maria McKee's "To Deserve You" is a brisker ballad, propelled by winds and synthesized strings and Midler 's hesitant questing after a man. The lyrics are daring--confessing a woman's fear that she's "too demanding" and "weak" to be worthy of romance risks an indictment from the political-correctness police. But this is not a bold album. And Bette of Roses has a thorny problem: It tends too often to downplay Midler's vocals, blending them in with back-up singers and instruments for a regrettably homogenized result. Strange to say about this almost inescapable movie, TV and performing star, but the still-Divine Miss M deserves more prominence. (Atlantic)

John Sakamoto, Jam Magazine

Most of us have gotten so used to hearing the Divine Miss M routinely overwhelm the puny pop songs she's built her career on of late that her first studio album in five years will come as nothing less than a shock. In fact, Bette Of Roses' defining characteristic is that it doesn't sound at all like a Bette Midler album. Along with the unusually subdued material, Midler has discovered a completely different voice, one that has more in common with, say, folk-country thrush Mary Chapin Carpenter than the scenery-chewing belter of old. While that accomplishment is wholly remarkable, it does have its downside: The songs that she and producer Arif Mardin have chosen to showcase her new approach are almost oppressively restrained, as though the pair were obsessed with the idea of being tasteful. I mean, when Midler can take a custom-made line like "I don't believe virginity/Is as common as it used to be" (from I Believe In You) and deliver it without even the trace of a wink, you know she's taken things too far. Still, Bette Of Roses (out Tuesday) remains a quietly luminous achievement, and one that bodes especially well for the next album.

CD Universe, Staff

Bette Midler's first release in five years is a sweet, controlled, ballad-heavy confection that portrays her in a new light. No longer a brassy strumpet, the Divine Miss M is now the Pleasant Miss Bette, quirky singer of pretty songs. Fortunately, Midler has an endearing, highly expressive voice, making much of this easy listening material slightly tangy.

Culling from her folk-singer/songwriter grab-bag, Midler opens BETTE OF ROSES with Cheryl Wheeler's "I Know This Town," an excellent song that brims with nostalgia, and one that could find a second life on the country charts if a Trisha, a Dolly or a Reba was to tackle it.

"To Comfort You" is a sanitized and languid blues, but its companion piece, the brilliant Maria
McKee-penned "To Deserve You," is a complicated off-kilter track full of musical, vocal and emotional swoops. The swirling "The Last Time," another McKee composition complete with a previously unheard of Midler falsetto, is as close to rocking out as Bette gets.

The old Bette would have played the disillusionment themes of "Bed Of Roses" to full force with a sweet opening and her signature, dramatic ending; here, it is fairy-tale smooth with no hint of histrionics. Even in the closing "I Believe In Love" Midler doesn't camp it up. Yet, by keeping it straight, she saves the track from becoming a novelty tune.

"In This Life" is the sort of ballad which made Midler famous in the first place. It contains hints of the quiver and zeal with which Midler used to infuse all her songs. But as with lying on a bed of rose petals, the song and the album pretend to be nothing more than soft and pretty experiences.