Liza Minnelli

There Is a Time

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In the 21-month break between the release of Liza Minnelli's second album, It Amazes Me, in March 1965 and her third, There Is a Time, in December 1966, she became a Broadway star, winning a Tony Award for the musical Flora, the Red Menace, launched her nightclub career, and starred in the TV musical The Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood, among other things. She also cut some singles, but like It Amazes Me, they didn't reach the charts. When Capitol Records signed her in 1963, the label must have envisioned Minnelli as a successor to her mother, Judy Garland, and a competitor to rival Columbia Records' Barbra Streisand. But by 1966, the record industry had been entirely remade by the British Invasion, which marginalized performers like Minnelli in record stores, whatever their renown in other media. There Is a Time did nothing to change that, but that's not to say it wasn't a good LP. It was, to put things simply, Minnelli's French album. She had enlisted Peter Matz, Streisand's arranger/conductor, for her first two albums. Streisand had moved on to Ray Ellis; Minnelli now hired him, too. They came up with an album's worth of songs by the likes of Charles Aznavour, Michel Legrand, and Jacques Brel, plus a ringer, "I (Who Have Nothing)," which was actually Italian, and some songs with French connections, such as "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise," a Gershwin standard from the '20s later sung in An American in Paris (1951), a film directed by Minnelli's father, Vincente Minnelli, and "The Parisians," from Gigi, a Lerner & Loewe film set in Paris. (There was also the requisite Kander & Ebb copyright, "See the Old Man," to give royalties to the singer's favorite songwriting team.) The material turned out to be singularly well suited to Minnelli's deeply romantic, bravura style. It also came to seem prescient. Minnelli anticipated the Off-Broadway musical revue Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris by performing two songs that would be used in that 1968 show, "Ay Marieke" (aka "Marieke") and "Days of the Waltz," which, with a different English lyric, would be known as "Carousel." (Its original French title is "La Valse Mille Temps.") Also strangely familiar in later years was "M'Lord," which sounds like a blueprint for "Mein Herr," the song Kander & Ebb wrote for Minnelli to sing in the movie version of Cabaret in 1972. Minnelli was still only 20 years old when she recorded and released There Is a Time, but she comes off like an old pro on a well-chosen set of songs that are a good match for her performing style.

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