Thursday, March 24, 2011

Beast of Burden

Song: Beast of Burden
Artist: Bette Midler
Album: No Frills

So, speaking of Rolling Stones covers...

I'm in this bar on St. Patrick's Day downtown just off the West Side Highway that usually has bands play, OR the DJ spins pop-rock music from the 70's and beyond including the videos projected on every screen in the place.  I'm not sure exactly how it works... is it satellite?  Anyhow, middle of the night and the familiar strut of "Beast of Burden" comes through the speakers, but it's a little different... and then, 'no, that's not Mick...' I look up to see... Bette Midler?

Well, I have somehow successfully avoided ever hearing this version of the song, which was included on her 80's pop-rock album "No Frills" from 1983.  And what a shame.  I can't profess to be much of a Bette Midler fan... well, music anyhow, I have always LOVED her 80's movies "Ruthless People" and "Outrageous Fortune," which I practically know by heart.  But homegirl sings the shit out of this song, I quite like it.

It does help that "Beast of Burden" is just, well... like "Under My Thumb," a killer song.  So oddly... in that bar last week, the video I saw was this one...

The video basically just has Bette (who looks great) in front of a stage curtain giving a pretty hard, thought also kind of funny, performance of the song.  Then about halfway through it (sort of) goes color and some costumed weirdos show up... man the 80's were crazy.  But upon reading up on the album, I read that the video featured a cameo from Mick Jagger himself and that it was nominated for MTV Video Awards in the Best Female Video, Best Video Choreography, and Best Stage Performance Video categories.  Huh?  Where's Mick?  Is he in one of those costumes?

Ah... no, take a look below and you'll see another video altogether that does include Mick and a funny spoken word bit between the two of them in the beginning. (And here you see Bette's brash, 80's persona that you see in the movies I mentioned above... and I suppose in the middle of "Beaches" before it gets all cancer.)  It's worth a look.

I haven't heard the rest of "No Frills," her sixth studio album, though apparently was a surprise low charting effort for her here in the States (four years after the success of "The Rose," and "Divine Madness!") aside from being well received (and her most successful to date) in Continental Europe and Scandinavia.

I also never heard the ballad "All I Need to Know" which appears on the album, and was later recorded by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville just five years later as "Don't Know Much," which went to #1 on the Adult Contemporary charts (Bette's version peaked at #39) and was an international hit.

Apparently the album also flirts with a little New Wave, maybe I need to track this down...  PLEASE check out the video below for lead track "Is This Love?" which is a live performance for an HBO special.  Holy 80's!


Beast of Burden (w/Mick)

All I Need to Know

Is This Love?

1 comment:

BriGuy said...

Glad to hear you discovered this forgotten gem. This was post-Jinxed Bette - the movie bomb the temporarily derailed her career. This single and the No Frills album didn't turn things around, and she was on her way to holding hands with La Toya at USA For Africa. That said, I do remember the Beast of Burden video getting a "premiere" on MTV and was in heavy rotation. I'm sure Mick's appearance had a lot to do with that.

Another really good track from the No Frills album is her cover of Marshall Crenshaw's My Favorite Waste Of Time. Other than the songs you mentioned, the rest of the album is pretty forgettable.

Now that Bette's biggest hits have all been giant sappy ballads, it's easy to forget that she was a rock chick too. She seems to be well aware of this - her comments as she inducted Darlene Love into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame hinted that she is feeling overlooked. I think they will get around to inducting her eventually.