Music And Concerts




No Frills (1983)

Billboard peak: # 60

Tracks: "Is It Love" - "Favorite Waste Of Time" - "All I Need To Know" - "Only In Miami" - "Heart Over Head" - "Let Me Drive" - "My Eye On You" - "Beast Of Burden" - "Soda And A Souvenir" - "Come Back Jimmy Dean"

Entertainment Weekly, Jess Cagle

She needed a hit after the movie Jinxed!, and this spawned two: the harmony-rich ''Favorite Waste of Time'' and ''Beast of Burden,'' a good- natured ode to masochism by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. B

Rolling Stone Magazine (RS 405), Stephen Holden

Bette Midler's notoriously expensive and time-consuming studio albums are attempts to prove that she's as good a singer as she is an entertainer. This means staying on pitch, manufacturing different "commercial"-sounding voices to fit all occasions and downplaying her celebrated humor.

On No Frills-which she recorded with Chuck Plotkin, Bruce Springsteen's behind-the-scenes engineering whiz - Midler realizes her ambitions too well. Though her singing is good, the album is afflicted with artistic quadrophenia, as the Divine Miss M adopts four distinct personas-a lost little girl, a Janis Joplin-like tough mama, a gospelish balladeer and a Latin lounge singer-that don't seem connected to one another.

No Frills nevertheless contains three memorable performances. Done with a sly, sassy insouciance, Marshall Crenshaw's "Favorite Waste of Time" may be Midler's finest rock performance ever. On the Rolling Stones' "Beast of Burden," she projects an interestingly huffy theatricality. And she infuses the Barry Mann-Cynthia Weil-Tom Snow ballad "All I Need to Know" with a smoky, oratorical fervor.

But for a project of this magnitude, too many of the songs fall short of the singer. Instead of silly pop smut ("Let Me Drive"), tepid technopop ("Is It Love") and preciously arty nostalgia ("Soda and a Souvenir," "Come Back Jimmy Dean"), Midler should have gone for the moon and stuck with songs that measure up to her own gigantic talents.

Consumer Guide, Robert Christgau

Although it helps that she gets stronger material than usual from yet another phalanx of International Pop Music Community pros, what makes this Bette's best studio album in a decade is a Habana production number set in Miami, a newly written Sophie Tucker song about a driving wheel, and not-quite-comic readings of Marshall Crenshaw and Jagger-Richard. What makes it not good enough is the curse of Broadway rock and roll--the beat is conceived as decoration or signal rather than the meaning of life, or even music. B-