Bette Midler – Some People’s Lives (1990)

frontcover1Some People’s Lives is the seventh studio album by American singer Bette Midler, released on the Atlantic Records label in 1990. It contains one of her biggest hits, “From a Distance”, which won the songwriter Julie Gold a Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1991.

The Some People’s Lives album became one of the biggest commercial successes of Midler’s musical career, peaking at number 6 in the US and number 5 in the UK and it was later awarded double platinum by the RIAA for sales of over two million copies in the US alone. It has sold 7 million copies worldwide.

Following a series of successful Hollywood movies made throughout the 1980s, among them Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Ruthless People, Outrageous Fortune, Oliver and Company and Big Business, Midler returned to the music scene with a proper studio album in 1990, her first since 1983’s rock and new wave-influenced No Frills. Some People’s Lives however had more in common with the preceding soundtrack Beaches in that it featured both interpretations of jazz standards like “Miss Otis Regrets”, “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most” and “He Was Too Good to Me” as well as more chart-oriented pop and adult contemporary material with contrasting synth-driven arrangements courtesy of producer Arif Mardin, his son Joe and Robbie Buchanan. The up-tempo track “Moonlight Dancing” (first recorded by pop/R&B group The Pointer Sisters) was written by noted hitmaker Diane Warren and “The Gift of Love” by Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, the team behind Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”, Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” and The Bangles’ “Eternal Flame”.

“Moonlight Dancing” (also released as an extended dance remix which sampled the 1973 recording “Do You Want to Dance”), “Night and Day” and “The Gift of Love” were all issued as singles, but the biggest hit that the album produced was undoubtedly Midler’s interpretation of Julie Gold’s anthem of universal brotherhood “From a Distance” featuring The Radio Choir of New Hope Church, paradoxically released shortly before the breakout of the first Persian Gulf War. The single reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, number 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart and number 6 in the UK and was later certified platinum in the US, making it Midler’s second million-seller within the space of two years following “Wind Beneath My Wings” from the Beaches soundtrack. The song has since been recorded by a large number of other artists and Midler herself included an alternate version with partly re-written lyrics on her 2006 album Cool Yule.(by wikipedia)

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Bette Midler, 1990

Despite Bette Midler’s bawdy, cartoonish image, her albums are almost always classy A/C collections that are often buried under overproduction. So on Some People’s Lives, one of the singer’s strongest collections, it isn’t surprising that the only hit, “From a Distance,” a song of hope and peace, is in keeping with much of her material — namely poor production that is buoyed by her sterling vocals and strong lyrics. Aside from that, however, Some People’s Lives is a smooth collection of standards like Cole Porter’s “Miss Otis Regrets” and contemporary cuts like Diane Warren’s “Moonlight Dancing.” Kicking off with the punchy “One More Round,” Midler sets the stage for sassy up-tempo numbers, then slides into the title song, a haunting ballad of despair that shows she is on more solid ground than ever. This is Midler at her best — playful, yearning, brassy, regretful — and that is mostly because producer Arif Mardin surrounds his star with respectful production that matches her talent while accenting her strengths. Standouts are the title cut, “Miss Otis Regrets,” “He Was Too Good to Me/Since You Stayed Here,” and “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most.” (by Bryan Buss )

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Personnel:
Gene Bertoncini (guitar)
Michael Boddicker (synthesizer)
Phil Bodner (clarinet)
Robbie Buchanan (keyboards, programming)
Ron Carter (bass)
Gary Coleman (percussion)
Andrew Gold (guitar)
Steve Kroon (percussion)
Michael Landau (guitar)
Jay Leonhart (bass)
John McCurry (guitar)
Bette Midler (vocals)
Dean Parks (guitar)
Bernie Layton (piano)
Joe Mardin (keyboards, programming, background vocals)
Guy Roche (programming)
Marc Shaiman (piano)
Andy Snitzer (saxophone)
Neil Stubenhaus (bass)
Grady Tate (drums)
Nino Tempo (saxophone)
Carlos Vega (drums)
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background vocals:
Charlotte Crossley – Ula Hedwig – Cissy Houston –Tom Kelly – Jo Ann Harris – David Lasley – George Merrill – Myrna Smith – Eugene VanBuren – Maria Vidal – John West
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The Radio Choir of New Hope Church (background vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. One More Round (Harper/Sembello/Willis) 2.03
02. Some People’s Lives (Fleming/Ian) 3.29
03. Miss Otis Regrets (Porter) 2.51
04. Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most (Landesman/Wolf) 5.30
05. Night And Day (Hughes/Seeman) 5.30
06. The Girl Is On To You (Johnstone) 4.10
07. From A Distance (Gold) 4.37
08. Moonlight Dancing (Warren) 4.39
09. He Was Too Good to Me (Rodgers/Hart) / Since You Stayed Here (Larson/Rubins) 4.12
10. All Of A Sudden (Archangel/Wilk) 4.33
11. The Gift Of Love (Kelly/Steinberg/Hoffs) 4.02

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