11 Songs, 41 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Bette Midler's brash 1972 debut rooted itself in a whirlwind tour of three decades of pop history, all of it variously juiced, hammered or caressed by an ambitious talent who suddenly made Streisand seem downright chutzpah-challenged. The album's tongue-in-cheek title not only saluted vintage torch sensibilities and the gleeful camp of the early '70s Manhattan gay scene where she'd most recently made her mark, it introduced a confident, irony-charged persona Midler would find daunting to live up to. Anchored by a hit single (a supercharged swing through the Andrews Sisters' "Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy" where she multi-tracked all the harmonies) that further blurred matters, the album is nonetheless a near wall-to-wall stylistic tour de force. Midler's "Delta Dawn" seems torn between eros and pathos, while her reads of "Superstar" and John Prine's "Hello in There" are studies in gripping emotional starkness. Elsewhere she bewitches Bobby Freeman's innocent "Do You Wanna Dance?" into slinky slow-jam triumph and bounds across an emotional landscape that ranges from the downbeat introspection of "Am I Blue" to infectious, over-the-top send-ups of "Chapel of Love" and "Leader of the Pack."

EDITORS’ NOTES

Bette Midler's brash 1972 debut rooted itself in a whirlwind tour of three decades of pop history, all of it variously juiced, hammered or caressed by an ambitious talent who suddenly made Streisand seem downright chutzpah-challenged. The album's tongue-in-cheek title not only saluted vintage torch sensibilities and the gleeful camp of the early '70s Manhattan gay scene where she'd most recently made her mark, it introduced a confident, irony-charged persona Midler would find daunting to live up to. Anchored by a hit single (a supercharged swing through the Andrews Sisters' "Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy" where she multi-tracked all the harmonies) that further blurred matters, the album is nonetheless a near wall-to-wall stylistic tour de force. Midler's "Delta Dawn" seems torn between eros and pathos, while her reads of "Superstar" and John Prine's "Hello in There" are studies in gripping emotional starkness. Elsewhere she bewitches Bobby Freeman's innocent "Do You Wanna Dance?" into slinky slow-jam triumph and bounds across an emotional landscape that ranges from the downbeat introspection of "Am I Blue" to infectious, over-the-top send-ups of "Chapel of Love" and "Leader of the Pack."

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