What does it sound like?:
When this album was released back in 1989, it was considered something of a bold, even daring, step for Liza Minnelli. Best known musically of course for her performances of show tunes and standards, we were presented with this electro pop album produced by The Pet Shop Boys and Julian Mendelsohn. In fact, not content with producing, Messrs Tennant and Lowe also wrote seven of the ten tracks. Indeed, there is a very Pet Shop Boys sound throughout the album, a sort of dance-oriented pop completely out of Minnelli’s normal operating parameters. Her version of Rent is given a successful makeover from the familiar PSB’s version, but it’s two covers of other artists’ material that really stand out for me. Her takes on Tanita Tikaram’s Twist In My Sobriety and Sondheim’s Losing My Mind are the best things on the album, where her vocals combine perfectly with the new musical context in which these two already well known songs are placed. So all in all, this is a largely successful meeting of two disparate musical worlds, melding synth pop with Minnelli’s dramatic vocal styling and delivery.
The original album has now been added to by a further two cds, which give no fewer than twenty one mixes of just three songs. While some of these have never been available before, they do rather labour the point with the seemingly endless repetition of minor variations! In fact, unless you’re really a fan of these types of extended mixes – and I’m not – I can’t see it being listened to more than once.
There’s also a DVD with various promo videos released at the time. Again, I’m not really a watcher of music DVDs, unless they’re of the documentary type, so this isn’t something I can imagine watching again. Perhaps fans will feel differently.
Finally, there is also a very good forty page booklet, with lots of detail on the making of the album. This is actually quite an interesting read, even if you’re not particularly a huge fan of the artists involved.
What does it all *mean*?
Hard to believe it’s getting on for thirty years since this came out. The original album is all you need really though, an interesting and pretty well carried off experiment, and there’s no denying Minnelli has a super voice. The remaining two cds and the DVD are strictly for fans only.
Goes well with…
Electro pop, synths, dancing.
Might suit people who like…
Pet Shop Boys, Human League, poppy electro bands in general – and Minnelli’s voice of course.