MIDLER IN THE 1970s - Part 2
With disappointing album sales over the previous 3 years, Bette Midler's 1979 release was aimed squarely at fans of her earlier work and her gay devotees in particular.
Despite the rollicking opening number 'Big Noise From Winnetka,' Thighs and Whispers was another syrupy collection of mostly lifeless covers as Bette inexplicably attempted to blend easy listening with disco with predictable results.
Here she gives Johnny Bristol's 'Hang On In There Baby' a go in a disappointingly flat arrangement but, hey, the song's indestructable.
See what I mean? You don't? Compare it to the original.
One of the numbers, 'Millworker' by James Taylor, is hauntingly bleak but oddly attractive, like 'Shiver Me Timbers' and 'Hello In There' from her early albums. Here's a live version:
Thighs and Whispers only reached #65 but the disco tunes 'Married Men,' 'Hang On In There Baby' and 'My Knight in Black Leather' were all released as extended 12-inch singles which got extensive play in gay bars. The B-side to 'Married Men' was 'Bang You're Dead' from the Live At Last album.
Bette Midler said about this album, "People say it's the best thing I've done in a long time and that's gratifying. I really do love the ballads. For someone like me, they keep you alive. I think 'Cradle Days' is one of the best things I ever did. I love old tunes and disco and rock, but ballads really are the key to my soul."
As a result of increasingly tepid sales over the last half of the 1970s there were no more non-soundtrack albums from the Divine Miss M for the next 4 years.
Listening with a modern ear, Live At Last is still a stone cold blast, Songs for the New Depression holds up very well, and Broken Blossom also provides some nice listening. There's something to love about all of these albums even if, with the exception of Live At Last, they fail to gel as a whole.
Bette Midler in the 1970s
Bette Midler on TV in the 1970s
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