Here's news. movie, stage and television actress Bernadette
Peters debuts on record as a first-rate pop torch singer:
Melissa Manchester with soul, Bette Midler on pitch. Her album
has already spawned the hit single "Gee Whiz," a
laid-back, doo-wop version of Carla Thomas' 1961 smash that
makes Peters' piping, little-girl voice seem almost like a
cutesy novelty. There are also a couple of Barry Mann and
Cynthia Weil rock tunes in which she sounds slightly trashy
and out of her depth. The Peter Allen songs on side two are
really more her style.
In fact, the whole second half of Bernadette Peters is
just about perfect, from the star's semi-C&W rendition of
Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller's "Pearl's a Singer"
to a wistful recap of Harry Warren and Mark Gordon's romantic
"You'll Never Know." But the best cuts are in
between. "Other Lady," written by Lesley Gore (!)
with Ellen Weston, tackles an age-old problem with as much
devastating eloquence as Maggie Roche's "The Married
Men," and Peters delivers it with the proper brooding
introspection. Allen's compositions, "Only Wounded"
(co-written with Carole Bayer Sager) and the torchy "I
Never Thought I'd Break" (co-written with Dean Pitchford),
feature the finest singing on the LP.
Though Brooks Arthur's production is understated and
beautifully orchestrated, the vocal tracks sound somewhat odd.
They have a dry quality -- as if recorded live -- and the
unusual absence of airbrushing echo places heavy demands on
the chanteuse's sultry soprano. That Bernadette Peters rises
to the occasion makes her performance that much more
Rolling Stone, 1980