by Warner Bros
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Bathhouse Betty's title harks back to Midler's early days as a favorite of the Manhattan gay community. Its eclectic, surprisingly strong choice of material also recalls the triumphs of her first two albums. Here she discovers a sassy new anthem in "I'm Beautiful," adds Dave Frishberg's wry "I'm Hip" for good measure, and also makes room for R&B classics like Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles' "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman" and Big Maybelle's "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show." Singer-songwriters Leonard Cohen ("Song of Bernadette") and Ben Folds ("Boxing," an imagined monologue by Muhammad Ali) help offset the bathos of "My One True Friend," the latest in Midler's series of instant-standard ballads. --Rickey Wright
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