Music Reviews

Bette Midler and Barry Manilow

Bette Midler Sings The Rosemary Clooney Songbook


Here’s a quick gift idea for those relatives who don’t wear black exclusively or have fewer than five piercings. Many of you know that Rosemary Clooney was one of the great voices of the mid-20th century, and mastered most of the post-war styles from Broadway to Country to Lounge. One of the great voices of the late-20th century, Bette Midler, teams with Barry Manilow and an enormous orchestra to perform some of Clooney’s best songs. The combination of Midler’s vocals and Manilow’s piano playing place these covers in beautiful, lush arrangements, while preserving most of the original impact of Clooney’s styling. Every song is a stunner, even if you’re not in tune with this retro vocal styling. Pour yourself a Sapphire Martini and drop this in the player. You’ll groove to the Broadway sounds of “You’ll Never Know” or the fakey pastiche of “Mambo Italian,” or pretend you’re at the classiest Hoedown east of 6th avenue with country standard “This Ole House.”

These are standards, or very close, written by Irving Berlin and Hoagie Carmichael and a handful of lesser know but vitally significant American song writers. Your parents, and theirs as well, listened to this sound, and there’s nothing short of global warming or the RIAA that will keep your great grandchildren from buying this record when they reach “that certain age.” Yeah, you’d rather be caught voting Republican than buying anything with Manilow on it, but it’s for Mom. Secretly, you’ll love it too, and drop it in the music rotation for that classy New Year’s party you’ve always wanted.

Bette Midler: • Columbia Records:

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