Renowned for her stage presence and live shows, no-one else quite sums up the word showbiz, in a world littered with Z-list celebrities, than Liza Minnelli. Her Oscar winning turn in Cabaret is known throughout the world, and those that love theatre will know all too well about her contributions to the Broadway stage.
One area that Minnelli is known for but hasn’t achieved the same level of success in is her music career. She may generate buzz like no other when it comes to her live performances, after all ‘Liza at the Palace’ won her a Tony award only a few years ago, but her recordings haven’t quite set the charts alight.
Despite having 11 studio albums under her belt, and a whole host of live recordings, she has failed to crack the top ten throughout her career, apart from one time in the late 80s. Many tend to forget about this era of Minnelli, which is why her 1989 album Results definitely qualifies for having been ‘lost in music’.
Over the last year alone Melanie C and Kimberley Walsh have released studio albums filled with their take on classic Broadway and West End songs. However, neither of them come from a stage background; they’ve tried their hand at it quite successfully but are ultimately pop singers.
The concept of an artist putting their own take on Broadway classics is nothing new, as that is exactly what Minnelli did way back in the 80s, with a wide selection of well-known songs fresh from the Broadway back catalogue she knew all too well. However, Minnelli took it one step further and enlisted 80s icons the Pet Shop Boys to completely remix the songs to a synthesised 80s beat; which when coupled with her well known Broadway vocals, we were treated to something unique and unheard of.
It was also her first studio album in 12 years and was a complete departure to what everyone expected. In the UK it paid off, charting at number six on the album charts and spawning the top ten single ‘Losing my Mind’.
Everyone remembers Liza for her belting Broadway vocals and this work has been largely forgotten. It’s important to remember that back in the 80s, Liza successfully hit the top ten with a new and experimental album, which is probably one of her best and one that pandered to her audience the most: her loyal gay fan base.
Lead single, Losing My Mind’ – incidentally, her highest charting track in the UK – is an excellent song about wanting someone so much it makes you feel as though you’re going insane, and encapsulates the entire 80s obsession with dance in just 4 minutes and 11 seconds. In addition to this strong single, there are two other standout tracks.
The first is one that’s been covered by many, ‘Love Pains’, and is an excellent club dance number that would even have people dancing now to the classic club song. Miss Minnelli’s version, although not the most famous, is probably the best as she successful tells the story behind the lyrics, something that could only be done with her award winning acting talents.
Then there’s ‘Twist in My Sobriety’, which incorporates a rap of her famous ‘Liza with a Z’ at the beginning, and hears a much more subtle Liza against the exploding synths of the background. Here we have it all: a story from a belting theatre singer who holds it back for a change, coupled with a rap and 80s dance; she truly is a talented woman.
This album is definitely a hidden gem of the late 80s and for any true Liza fan they’ll know it to be an extreme highlight in her career that they’ll never forget.