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Bette Midler's debut album displays how raw her talent was at the beginning of her career, a coarseness that has been lost as she's honed her persona into something brassier. Not that brassy's bad; she's just matured as a performer. But listen to this, then throw in 1990's fine Some People's Lives to see how she shines with both voices. On The Divine Miss M, the atmosphere is so intimate it's like she and the band are right in front of you, so when she turns "Superstar" into a quiet portrait of stunned heartbreak it's almost uncomfortable to bear witness to her breakdown. And when she and her backup singers turn in superior versions of "Chapel of Love" and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," it's like having a front row seat to a girl-group concert. By turns bawdy and melancholy (and in an anguished "Delta Dawn," she pulls off both in the same song), this is a superstar at her finest. Every cut's a gem. Few contemporary vocalists can pull off the bleakness of "Hello in There" or the forlornness of "Am I Blue?" with such genuine shades of feeling. Perhaps because she is an accomplished actress as well, Midler's emotions always ring true. Though her talent hasn't wavered in the years since this debut, few of the collections that followed have been as consistent, revealing, or of such high quality.
Side A 1.Do You Want To Dance? Bette Midler 02:56 2.Chapel Of Love Bette Midler 02:52 3.Superstar Bette Midler 05:09 4.Daytime Hustler Bette Midler 03:29 5.Am I Blue Bette Midler 05:21 Side B 1.Friends Bette Midler 02:49 2.Hello In There Bette Midler 04:15 3.Leader Of The Pack Bette Midler 03:41 4.Delta Dawn Bette Midler 05:16 5.Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy Bette Midler 02:26 6.Friends Bette Midler 02:50