Personnel includes: Bette Midler (vocals); David Spinozza (guitar); Gene Orloff, Emmanuel Green (violin); Selwart Clarke (viola); Kermit Moore (cello); Barry Manilow, Pat Rebillot, Dick Hyman (piano); Ron Carter, Milt Hinton (bass); Ralph MacDonald (drums, percussion); Cissy Houston, Melissa Manchester, Gail Kantor (background vocals).
Producers: Barry Manilow, Art Ertegun, Joel Dorn.
Recorded at Atlantic Recording Studios, New York, New York.
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
Years of acting in comedies and performing Las Vegas revues have clouded public perception of Bette Midler; people tend to forget now just how completely weird she was in 1972, how she skirted on the edges of taboo. Absurdly sexy, defiantly trashy, and unafraid of crossing musical boundaries whenever she felt like it, the Bette Midler of her debut, THE DIVINE MISS M, is someone truly remarkable. That this sense of adventurousness was eventually replaced by more mainstream aspirations is somewhat of a shame, but at least for this album, something truly new was happening.
The record starts with a sultry, sexy re-imagination of Bobby Freeman's "Do You Want to Dance?" as a more carnal invitation than the dance-party original, and moves through similar re-workings of Leon Russell's groupie anthem "Superstar," John Prine's stark "Hello in There" and, most famously, "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy." The album's emotional center, however, is the bittersweet, Buzzy Linhart-penned "Friends," which opens and closes what was Side Two of the original LP, and became Midler's signature tune.