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Cabaret And All That Jazz, The Anthology
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  • The challenge in assembling a comprehensive anthology of Liza Minnelli's recordings is that, whether making solo albums or performing on cast or soundtrack albums, Minnelli has appeared on a large number of record labels during her career, labels since acquired by the diminishing number of major labels, but still separate from each other and not much interested in licensing tracks to their rivals or third parties. Thus, the British reissue firm Salvo draws 37 of the 38 selections on this two-CD set from Sony Music Entertainment, which is to say that they derive from Minnelli's off-and-on associations with Columbia and Epic Records, 1972-1992, associations that followed her stints on Capitol and A&M Records and were interrupted by releases on other labels. Minnelli recorded three studio LPs (Liza Minnelli: The Singer, Tropical Nights, and Results) for Columbia or Epic, plus three live LPs (the soundtrack to her TV special Liza with a "Z", Live at the Winter Garden, and Live from Radio City Music Hall), and one disc on this set is devoted to either type of recording, except that the first CD begins with a live performance of "Cabaret." The rest of this studio disc makes for a difficult mixture, if only because those three studio LPs are anomalies in Minnelli's career. One usually thinks of her as a purveyor of traditional pop, but Liza Minnelli: The Singer is full of soft rock renditions of early-'70s hits for other artists (James Taylor's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight," Stevie Wonder's "You Are the Sunshine of My Life," etc.); Tropical Nights is a disco album; and Results, produced by Pet Shop Boys, uses her as a singer over techno-pop dance tracks. There are, thus, plenty of odd juxtapositions on a disc that mixes up songs from these three albums. The live disc flows a lot better, not surprisingly. The problem there is one of song selection. It may be that the compiler, whoever that person is, was trying deliberately to feature more songs from Live at the Winter Garden, since that LP had never been released on CD as of 2010; in any case, all but two songs from it are on this collection. In contrast, only a couple of songs come from the Radio City album, and of the four songs from Liza with a "Z", none are among Minnelli's better-known ones. This creates the odd result that the compilation has no versions at all of such Minnelli favorites as "Maybe This Time," "Ring Them Bells," and "Liza with a 'Z'," even though they were available for licensing from Sony. Speaking of licensing, one track comes from another label, Minnelli's performance of "New York, New York" from the United Artists Records soundtrack album to the movie of the same name (now controlled by EMI). That's a welcome inclusion, but it would take more licensing from other labels, and a better selection, to make this an outstanding Liza Minnelli anthology instead of what it is, merely a good one. ~ William Ruhlmann
Professional Reviews
Record Collector (magazine) (p.87) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "She's acting out myriad roles, each and every one utterly convincing."
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