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Bette Midler Sings the Peggy Lee Songbook

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Album Review

Bette Midler's first songbook album focused on songs popularized by Rosemary Clooney, and it became a surprising hit after being latched onto by vocal fans as well as adult contemporary audiences. Befitting her image, the record wasn't a reverent tribute; Midler and musical partner Barry Manilow modernized the arrangements of Clooney's bigger hits, recasting "Come On-A My House" as a swing-hip-hop number and reimagining "This Ole House" as a bluegrass song. Midler's 2005 tribute to Peggy Lee is a more conservative affair, perhaps due to Lee's larger status in the realm of American song as compared to Clooney. That's not to say it's a disappointment; in fact, it's a talented, affectionate record that may not add much to the cause but is a solid tribute. Certainly Lee's image as the bemused, world-wise, sometimes sensual siren fits well with Midler's, and both have exhibited an excellent rhythmic sense. And the material helps Midler flaunt as only she knows how, from "Fever" to "Big Spender" to "I'm a Woman." While all of these contribute nothing more or less than Lee's versions, Midler does noticeably improve "Is That All There Is?," one of the most eccentric songs in Lee's repertoire. Her studied boredom in the verses is good enough, but when she reaches the uninhibited chorus, she reveals a marvel of catlike glee. The arrangements, most of them by Manilow, are very good, although they reveal a close knowledge of the originals that contributes to the reverence on display.

Customer Reviews

Bette & Peggy Lee

I wanted a download of "I'm a Woman" and while I adore Peggy's original arrangement, people are more familiar and recognize Bette's voice first. And if you are going to have someone to arrange, orchastrate and sing tributes to the great ladies of the 40's who better than Manilow to do it and Midler to sing it?

Who wrote that album review?

Okay, the person who wrote that album review must have been drunk. How else do I explain the insanity of him or her saying that Bette's version of "Is That All There Is?" improves upon Peggy's! Are you crazy? Did you ever actually hear the original version? Bette's version is mostly a COPY of Peggy's. There is a stark, compelling drama to Peggy's version, and Bette and her producer/arranger Barry Manilow basically copy as much of that as possible. They bring nothing new to the song. Plus, seriously, isn't it a little arrogant of Bette to attempt to sing "Fever?" Peggy's record is iconic. It's a masterpiece. No one should ever sing that song again. It does not need to be remade!

Bette Midler's tribute to Peggy Lee

This album is a TRIBUTE album to the late, great Peggy Lee. Like Bette Midler's tribute album to Rosemary Clooney, Bette pays tribute to these divine ladies. You can tell Bette doesn't intend to remake these classic songs, she's merely paying tribute. Bette's voice sounds crisp and clear on all the tracks. Personal favorites "Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe", "Is That All There Is?", "I'm a Woman". Bette Midler is one of our greatest interpreters. That gift is on full display here.


Born: December 1, 1945 in Honolulu, HI

Genre: Vocal

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Bette Midler counts singing as only one of her talents. Still, she has managed to score a number of major hits in a roller-coaster career as a recording artist. Born in Paterson, New Jersey and raised in Hawaii, Midler showed an interest in singing and acting early on, and by the '60s she had moved to New York and gotten a role in the long-running Broadway hit Fiddler on the Roof. Midler developed a nightclub act that included comedy and singing of a variety of kinds of material, including show tunes,...
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