Bathhouse Betty

Bathhouse Betty

Infobox Album
Name = Bathhouse Betty
Type = studio
Artist = Bette Midler

Released = September 15, 1998
Recorded = 1997-98
Genre = Pop
Length = 44:58
48:27 (Japan)
Label = Warner Bros.
Producer =
Reviews =
*Allmusic Rating|2|5 [ link]
*Robert Christgau Rating-Christgau|hm1 [ link]
Last album = "Bette of Roses"
This album = "Bathhouse Betty"
Next album = "Bette"

"Bathhouse Betty" is the ninth studio album by the American singer Bette Midler, released in 1998. "Bathhouse Betty" was Midler's debut album for Warner Bros. Records, after having parted ways with Atlantic Records in 1995 following the moderate commercial success of her album "Bette of Roses".

The title of the album, "Bathouse Betty", refers to Midler's early career when she performed her cabaret shows at gay bath houses like the Continental Baths in New York which led to her becoming a gay icon with a loyal LGBT following ever since. When Midler promoted the album she said in an interview "Despite the way things turned out [with the AIDS crisis] , I'm still proud of those days [when I got my start singing at the gay bathhouses] . I feel like I was at the forefront of the gay liberation movement, and I hope I did my part to help it move forward. So, I kind of wear the label of 'Bathhouse Betty' with pride." . [cite news
title =Bette Midler
publisher =Houston Voice
date =23 October 1998
url =
accessdate =

Released some twenty-five years after Midler's breakthrough with the album "The Divine Miss M", "Bathhouse Betty" was musically a comeback and a return to her roots and her high camp "Mae-West-meets-the-Andrews-Sisters" stage persona of the same name. The first single "I'm Beautiful (Damnit!)" - in fact not an original but a remake of a song by house music group Uncanny Alliance - even opens with the spoken line "Hi! This is the Divine Miss M and I'm here to tell you about my cosmic fabulosity!" and effectively set the tone for the following album.

"Ukulele Lady", a tribute to Midler's native Hawaii which she had first performed live in the 1997 TV special "Diva Las Vegas", is a an old evergreen written by Gus Kahn and Richard Whiting, published in 1925 and first made famous by Vaughn De Leath - and later covered by among others Miss Piggy. Other cover versions on "Bathhouse Betty" include early girl group classics like Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles' debut single "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman" and 1950's R&B chanteuse Big Maybelle's "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show", the latter featuring swing-rock band Royal Crown Revue. Contemporary covers include Ben Folds' tragicomic "Boxing", an imagined monologue by Muhammad Ali, originally featured on Ben Folds Five's 1995 self-titled debut album, Dave Frishberg's "I'm Hip" and Dick Gallagher and Mark Waldrop's "Laughing Matters", taken from Howard Crabtree's 1996 gay musical revue "When Pigs Fly". "Big Socks", an original written and produced by Chuckii Booker, is a tongue-in-cheek contemporary R&B track whose lyrics debate the supposed correlation between the size of men's feet and other bodyparts; "Don't brag about your body, baby, and say that you're packin' a lot, 'cause all I see besides your big feet is that you got big socks."

"Baththouse Betty" was not all campiness and laughs however, the album opens with the ballad "Song of Bernadette" written by Leonard Cohen, Bill Elliott and Jennifer Warnes, and first recorded by Warnes on her 1987 album "Famous Blue Raincoat". The title and the lyrics of the song refer to Bernadette Soubirous, a young French girl in the mid 19th century who claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary on several occasions. Bernadette was subsequently declared insane by the villagers of Lourdes - but canonized by the Catholic Church and proclaimed Saint Bernadette after her death. "Lullaby in Blue", which Midler described as her personal favourite on the album, was co-written by Leonard Cohen's son Adam and is a song about a woman who gave up a child for adoption: "I've never heard a pop song about a person who gives their child up and is missing the child... The first time I heard that song, I burst into tears." [cite journal| last = Newman| first =Melinda | authorlink = | title = Midler makes Warner Bros. debut with 'Bathhouse Betty'| journal = Billboard| volume = 110| issue = 36| pages = 15–16| publisher = | location = | date = 1998-09-05| url = | doi = | id = | accessdate = ] The second single released from the album was the melancholy "My One True Friend", composed by David Foster, Carole King and Carole Bayer Sager and the lead song from the movie "One True Thing" which starred Meryl Streep and William Hurt.

One track from the "Bathhouse Betty" sessions, Julie Gold's "Heaven", was only released as a single B-side and featured as a bonus track on the Japanese edition of the album. Gold had previously written Midler's 1990 hit single "From A Distance".

"Bathhouse Betty" reached #32 on Billboard's album chart and the lead single "I'm Beautiful", which featured dance remixes by among others Victor Calderone, Danny Tenaglia and composer Brinsley Evans himself, was a major dancefloor hit, becoming a #1 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart and #8 on Hot Dance Music/Maxi Singles Sales. "My One True Friend" also reached #16 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Track listing

#"Song of Bernadette" (Leonard Cohen, Bill Elliott, Jennifer Warnes) - 3:46
#"I'm Beautiful (Damnit!)" (Brinsley Evans) - 3:55
#"Lullaby in Blue" (Adam Cohen, Brock Walsh) - 5:09
#"Ukulele Lady" (Gus Kahn, Richard Whiting) - 3:34
#"I'm Hip" (Bob Dorough, Dave Frishberg) - 2:44
#"I Sold My Heart to the Junkman" (Leon René, Otis René) - 3:10
#"One Monkey Don't Stop No Show" (Rose Marie McCoy, Charlie Singleton) - 2:46
#"Boxing" (Ben Folds) - 4:26
#"Big Socks" (Chuckii Booker) - 3:51
#"That's How Love Moves" (Jennifer Kimball, Ty Lacy, Fitzgerald Scott) - 3:54
#"My One True Friend" (David Foster, Carole King, Carole Bayer Sager) - 3:49
#"Laughing Matters" (Dick Gallagher, Mark Waldrop) - 3:54
#"Heaven" (Julie Gold) - 3:29
#* Bonus track Japan


* Bette Midler - lead vocals, background vocals
* Katreese Barnes - background vocals
* Margaret Dorn - background vocals
* Petra Haden - background vocals
* Ula Hedwig - background vocals
* Natalie Jackson - background vocals
* Johnny Kemp - background vocals
* Ivan Matias - background vocals
* Michelle Matlock - background vocals
* Eddie Nichols - background vocals
* Chuckii Booker - background vocals, multi instruments
* Gregg Bissonette - drums
* Daniel Glass - drums
* Rick Marotta - drums
* Lewis Nash - drums
* John "J.R." Robinson - drums
* Steve Schaeffer - drums
* Frank Pagano - percussion
* Emil Richards - percussion
* Richard Crooks - spoons
* Jerry Barnes - bass guitar, background vocals
* Matt Bissonette - bass
* Nathan East - bass
* Veikko Lepisto - bass
* Ron Carter - upright bass
* Chuck Domanico - acoustic bass
* James Achor - guitar
* Dennis Budimir - guitar
* Tim Pierce - guitar
* Michael Thompson - guitar
* Ira Siegel - guitar, pedal steel
* Jay Berliner - ukulele
* Eric Weissberg - ukulele
* Brock Walsh - banjo
* Robbie Kondor - mandolin
* Dean Parks - dulcimer, acoustic guitar, mandolin, balalaika, electric guitar
* Cyrus Chestnut - piano
* Greg Hilfman - piano
* Carole King - piano
* Randy Waldman - piano
* Kim Bullard - keyboards
* David Foster - keyboards
* Randy Kerber - keyboards
* John Philip Shenale - keyboards
* Steve Skinner - organ, keyboards
* Warren Luening - trumpet
* Jack Sheldon - trumpet
* Scott Steen - trumpet
* Bob Efford - saxophone
* Richard Mitchell - saxophone
* Roger Neumann - saxophone
* Mando Dorame - tenor saxophone
* Bill Ungerman - baritone saxophone
* Les Benedict - trombone
* James Self - tuba
* Richard Todd - french horn


* Arif Mardin - record producer, musical arranger
* Marc Shaiman - producer, arranger
* David Foster - producer, arranger
* Ted Templeman - producer
* Chuckii Booker - producer, arranger, engineer
* Brock Walsh - producer, arranger
* Michael O'Reilly - producer, engineer
* Carole King - arranger
* Steve Skinner - arranger
* Bill Schneider - arranger
* Bill Ungerman - arranger
* Brad Dechter - arranger
* Kim Bullard - arranger
* Claus Trelby - engineer
* Jason Mauza - engineer
* Rod Michaels - engineer
* Alejandro Rodriguez - engineer
* Al Schmitt - engineer
* Lee Herschberg - engineer
* Andy Grassi - engineer
* Steve Griffen - engineer
* Humberto Gatica - engineer
* Felipe Elgueta - engineer
* Cary Butler - engineer
* Jeff Hendrickson - engineer, mixing
* Kevin Clark - engineer, mixing
* Dana Jon Chappelle - engineer, mixing
* David Koenig - mixing
* Frank Filipetti - mixing
* Gloria Gabriel - production manager
* Nick Vidar - production assistant
* Dave DePalo - production assistant


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