2008's Rhino-issued Jackpot: The Best Bette was the Grammy-winning vocalist and Emmy-winning actress' first career-spanning compilation since 1993, and it served as an excellent window into her often eclectic career, touching on nearly all of her stylistic forays. 2015's Gift of Love is a more myopic take on the greatest-hits package, offering up an amorous 18-track set devoted entirely to Midler's love for balladry. As the humble love song has served as the legendary diva's bread and butter since the '70s, it should hardly come as a surprise that Gift of Love is well stocked with hits. Any proper Midler collection would be incomplete without the holy trinity of last-call karaoke balladry that is "The Rose," "Wind Beneath My Wings," and "From a Distance," and Gift of Love doesn't disappoint, delivering those modern standards early on in the proceedings. It also serves up some less ubiquitous gems, like her spirited 1983 cover of Marshall Crenshaw's "My Favorite Waste of Time" and her sultry, jazzy rendering of the Marvelettes' Smoky Robinson-penned "The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game." For the most part, Gift of Love sticks with the benchmarks, with the aforementioned triple threat, "Every Road Leads Back to You" (from For the Boys), and 1995's "It's Too Late" and "As Dreams Go By," the latter two of which appeared on the platinum-selling Bette of Roses leading the charge. Fans looking for a more diversified retrospective should probably check out Jackpot (also a Rhino release), but as the perfect soundtrack for a campy romantic evening or a boozy post-breakup meltdown, one would be hard-pressed to find anything better.
A Gift of Love Review
by James Christopher Monger