It would be reasonable to assume that an album called Liza's at the Palace.... is another Liza Minnelli live album, especially since it follows by a couple of months a stint of live appearances she made at the Palace Theatre on Broadway in the fall of 2008. Actually, however, it was, as the small print in the CD booklet reveals, "recorded...at Legacy Recording Studios, NYC." The spine of the CD jewel box even calls it an "original cast recording," which is how it should be treated, as a studio re-creation of the show Minnelli performed at the Palace. While the absence of applause at the end of each song may be disconcerting, deciding to preserve the show in this manner probably was the better idea. Minnelli, 62 years old and determined to keep dancing on-stage, no doubt gives better vocal performances in this controlled environment than she could have if the show actually had been recorded live at the Palace. Each Minnelli live performance, dating back to her nightclub debut at the age of 19 in 1965, has been an expression of her love of traditional pop and old-time show business, even as the songs have changed, at least somewhat. ("Maybe This Time," one of her signature tunes, may well have been in that first show, and it's here, too.) For this show, she has added some appropriate numbers new to her repertoire, notably the funny patter song "If You Hadn't, But You Did" (usually known simply as "If"), in which a woman, having shot her lover down, explains to his corpse why she did it. Mindful of Judy Garland's legendary performances at the Palace in the early '50s, Minnelli updates her mother's "Palace Medley," itself a compendium of tributes to earlier Palace vaudeville singers. And she spends the bulk of the second disc (bookended with her two favorites, "And the World Goes 'Round" and "Theme from New York, New York") re-creating the legendary (but never recorded) 1940s nightclub act of her godmother, Kay Thompson, the multi-talented MGM vocal coach, with a quartet of male singers standing in for the Williams Brothers. This provides Minnelli with a form to do what she does best, evoke and revitalize a golden age of entertainment.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2