16 Biggest Hits

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Liberace blended high culture, flamboyant showmanship, and virtuoso musicianship, and in so doing brought the classics to the masses with his florid, romantic, and often humorous style. 16 Biggest Hits has a selection of Liberace's Columbia recordings from 1952-56, the period during which he charted his half-dozen hits. Only four of his six hits are included -- a Christmas medley and a collaboration with Jo Stafford are omitted -- but the program is very strong, mixing Liberace's diverse instrumentals ("Beer Barrel Polka," "Warsaw Concerto," "Twelfth Street Rag") with serious vocal numbers ("September Song") and overtly humorous pieces like his highfalutin' interpretation of "Chopsticks." The live recording of "Liberace's Boogie," in particular, is still hilarious 50 years on, and goes a long way toward showing latter-day skeptics what Liberace's popularity was all about. Liner notes would have been nice, but 16 Biggest Hits is nonetheless an immensely entertaining document of an immensely popular entertainer.

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