Friday, January 25, 2002

Music Review: Liza with a “Hmmm . . .”

(CD review published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #174, January 25, 2002)

Liza Minnelli Ultimate Collection, Hip-O Records (A Universal Music Company) 314 556 504-2

Some day a record company will come out with a fabulous Liza Minnelli compilation that will do her justice. This isn’t it, although none of the currently-available Minnelli compilations are much better. Two tracks from her early years on Capitol are historically interesting: “Try to Remember” from her 1964 debut album and “Together (Wherever We Go),” a duet with her mother, Saint Judy Garland. A few of the thirteen tracks from her pre-Cabaret years on the A&M label are pleasant; my favorite of these is “Love Story” by Randy Newman, and “Simon,” by Liza’s husband-at-the-time Peter Allen, is here available on CD for the first time. But seven tracks, one-third of this CD, are from Minnelli’s New Feelin’ album from 1970, in which not even Liza could save standards like “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Stormy Weather” and “Love For Sale” from being ruined by Rex Kramer’s cheesy, embarrassing rock arrangements.

The remaining six tracks are the Liza we all know and love (among them “Liza with a Z,” “Ring Them Bells,” “The Singer,” and one track erroneously listed in the CD booklet as “Theme from New York, New York, New York”). But where’s “It Was a Good Time”? Where’s “The World Goes ’Round”? And where’s anything after 1989’s Pet Shop Boys-produced “Losing My Mind”? A great talent like Liza’s deserves better than this. Can we have a nice multi-disc boxed set, please?

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