Bette Midler

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy

Composed by Don Raye / Hughie Prince

Song Review by

The two minutes and twenty-six seconds regenerating this energetic Andrew Sisters hit from 1941 became a #1 Adult Contemporary hit for Bette Midler in the summer of 1973. Atlantic 45 rpm #2964 was her second hit single and first Top 10 on the pop charts, beating the Top 15 showing of the version that was popular 32 years before. It's a real period piece produced by Barry Manilow, Ahmet Ertegun and Geoffrey Haslam, arranged by Arif Mardin, with a vocal arrangement by Marty Nelson. But here's the clincher, it is The Divine Miss M herself on all vocals! Despite having her Harlettes available the song becomes a brilliant vehicle to silence any criticism of Bette's ability to sing with the best of them. This isn't a modernization, it's a period piece with Bette Midler as The Andrews Sisters backed by drummer Ted Sommer on those great horn parts, Don Arnone on guitar, Dick Hyman playing the old-style piano with Milton Hilton on the essential bass. "He was a famous trumpet man from old Chicago way" the serious musician turned into a clock who has to wake the boys up with reveille. The camp is not in its reverence, it is in the audacity to tackle such a selection, the vocal sound straight out of an old Victorola with big band jazz embracing the old world pop.

This rendition is a dance tune with amazing scat from the quickly emerging talent, so very different from everything else on the ten song eleven track debut lp. The singer is saying "8 to the bar" not "H to the bar" as the mondegreen - misheard lyric - is alleged on this tune which was nominated for a Best Song Academy Award in 1941. 1977's Live At Last take is an amazing re-creation of Midler's studio track from 3 years before, though this time there really is a big band behind her and other singers - her famous Staggering Harlettes (all different from those who appeared on the first album) to help The Divine one become the famous forties trio. It's total musical energy creating a tremendous platform for the actress/vocalist. A neat little reprise on the live version brings the intensity back in instant replay, the only thing that differentiates it from being almost a carbon copy of the original - a very tough thing to do, and done so well by Bette.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Divine Miss M 1972
No Image 1982 Embassy
Experience the Divine Bette Midler: Greatest Hits 1993 Atlantic 2:19
3 for One 2000 WEA International 2:25
Diva Las Vegas 2000 WEA International
All the 70's 2003
Various Artists
Warner Bros. 2:19
Rhino Hi-Five: Bette Midler 2005 Atlantic 2:17
The Best Bette 2008 Rhino 2:18
Simply the Best Seventies Rock 2009
Various Artists
Warner Bros. / Warner Music 2:25
No Image Atlantic
No Image
Various Artists
Sony Music
blue highlight denotes editor's pick