Fresh from the successes of both her Divine Intervention tour and the release of her fourteenth studio album, It’s The Girls!, Bette Midler is back on December 4 with a new compilation from Rhino Records. A Gift of Love focuses on the romantic side of The Divine Miss M’s repertoire, culling eighteen tracks from nine albums originally released on the Atlantic and Warner Bros. labels between 1976 and 2014.
“Just Let Me Follow Behind,” written by Utopia’s Moogy Klingman, is the oldest track featured on A Gift of Love, dating back to Bette’s third album, 1976’s Songs for a New Depression. Surprisingly, no tracks have made the cut from her debut The Divine Miss M or its self-titled follow-up. (The most notable omission is doubtless “Do You Wanna Dance” from the former; her thrilling makeover of Bobby Freeman’s rock-and-roll hit into a smoldering ballad still might be the most sensual song in her considerable catalogue.) The only other song included from the artist’s first decade is the Grammy-winning Top 5 hit “The Rose” from the 1979 film of the same name.
Though two songs have been included from 1983’s No Frills (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Tom Snow’s “All I Need to Know” – later retitled “Don’t Know Much” for Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville – and Marshall Crenshaw’s “Favorite Waste of Time”), A Gift of Love concentrates on tracks recorded in the years following the 1989 release of Miss M’s chart-topping ballad “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Though the song had been recorded multiple times since 1982 by artists including Sheena Easton and Lou Rawls, Midler’s performance for the film Beaches brought a new dimension to Jeff Silbar and Larry Henley’s inspirational composition. The Grammy-winning Record of the Year also made the multi-faceted Midler a mainstay on “light,” soft rock radio stations as a romantic balladeer nonpareil. The year after “Wind” went to No. 1, Midler had another smash with the No. 2 hit “From a Distance” from her album Some People’s Lives. Three tracks from that LP are featured here also including the Top 20 AC hit “Night and Day” and this collection’s nominal title track, “A Gift of Love.”
Two songs have been selected from the soundtrack to the 1991 drama For the Boys (Diane Warren’s “Every Road Leads Back to You” and the Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer standard “Come Rain or Come Shine”) and a whopping five songs have been reprised from 1995’s Bette of Roses including Maria McKee’s “To Deserve You” and Bonnie Hayes’ “Bed of Roses.” Midler moved over to Atlantic’s sister label Warner Bros. for 1998’s Bathhouse Betty, an homage to her deliciously camp roots, and remained there for 2000’s Bette. Among its eclectic material, Bette featured Midler’s tributes to classic soul artists including Baby Washington, The Temptations and Teddy Pendergrass; her rendition of The Manhattans’ “Shining Star” appears on A Gift of Love.
Bette decamped Warner Bros. for Columbia Records in the first decade of the 21st century, recording a holiday album and two well-received reunions with producer-arranger Barry Manilow: Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook and Sings the Peggy Lee Songbook. (A third songbook collection from Midler and Manilow to salute Laura Nyro was heavily rumored but, alas, never materialized.) After more than eight years without a studio album, Bette returned to Warner Bros. for 2014’s ebullient and eclectic girl-group salute It’s the Girls!. Clearly the time was right for such divine madness; the album premiered at No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and made Midler only the second female artist after Barbra Streisand to score Top 10 albums in five consecutive decades. The two most recent tracks on A Gift of Love, Kate McGarrigle’s “(Talk to Me of) Mendocino” and Smokey Robinson’s Motown classic “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game,” were previously Target -exclusive bonus tracks on the retailer’s edition of It’s the Girls!.
This collection of the romantic Bette Midler is due on December 4 from Rhino and can be pre-ordered at the links below! (Note that the U.K. edition has unique cover artwork; check it out below!)
- “Favorite Waste Of Time”
- “In This Life”
- “The Gift Of Love”
- “Bed Of Roses”
- “From A Distance”
- “Wind Beneath My Wings”
- “Come Rain Or Come Shine”
- “The Rose”
- “As Dreams Go By”
- “It’s Too Late”
- “All I Need To Know”
- “Every Road Leads Back To You”
- “Shining Star”
- “To Deserve You”
- “Night And Day”
- “(Talk To Me Of) Mendocino”
- “The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game”
- “Let Me Just Follow Behind”
Tracks 1 & 11 from No Frills, Atlantic 80070, 1983
Tracks 2, 4, 9-10 & 14 from Bette of Roses, Atlantic 82823, 1995
Tracks 3, 5 & 15 from Some People’s Lives, Atlantic 82129, 1990
Track 6 from Beaches: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Atlantic 81933, 1988
Tracks 7 & 12 from For the Boys: Music from the Motion Picture, Atlantic 82329, 1991
Track 8 from The Rose: Original Soundtrack Recording, Atlantic SD 16010, 1979
Track 13 from Bette, Warner Bros. 47843, 2000
Tracks 16-17 from It’s the Girls, Warner Bros. 545542-2, 2014
Track 18 from Songs for the New Depression, Atlantic SD 18155, 1976