Liza Minnelli

16 Biggest Hits

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Compilation producer Didier C. Deutsch faced special problems in constructing an entry in Sony archival imprint Legacy's 16 Biggest Hits series. For one thing, Minnelli hasn't had any hits in the usually accepted sense of a single that achieves a high placing in the charts, at least in the U.S., though one of her singles, a 1989 dance arrangement of Stephen Sondheim's "Losing My Mind" produced by the Pet Shop Boys, was a Top Ten hit in Great Britain. Minnelli has become associated with a few standards over the years, however, particularly "Cabaret," the title song from the Broadway musical, which she sang in the show's motion picture adaptation, and "Theme From 'New York, New York,'" which she sang in the film for which it was written, even if it took Frank Sinatra's cover to make the song a success. Between 1972 and 1992, Minnelli released six albums and several singles on the Columbia and Epic labels controlled by Sony, but her complete discography, including cast albums, soundtracks, and regular albums, is spread across many labels. The soundtrack for Cabaret was on ABC, for example, while the soundtrack for New York, New York was on United Artists. Thus, Sony does not have access to the original recordings of Minnelli's best-known signature songs. (Thankfully, "Losing My Mind" was released on Epic, bizarre as it sounds in the context of the other recordings.) What Sony does have is concert recordings: Liza with a "Z," the soundtrack to her award-winning 1972 television special; the 1974 album Live at the Winter Garden; and 1992's Live From Radio City Music Hall. Deutsch draws heavily from these albums, pulling four tracks from the first, three from the second, and three from the third, which allows him to include versions of "Cabaret" and "Theme From 'New York, New York'." He also manages to include a song from Minnelli's Broadway musical, Flora, the Red Menace ("Quiet Thing"), and he has located a one-off single she recorded in 1975 featuring two songs she performed as a replacement cast member for the Broadway musical Chicago ("My Own Best Friend" and "All That Jazz"). But much of the record consists of familiar material, from "Bye Bye Blackbird" to "You're So Vain," that, while pleasant enough, has no special connection to the singer and can hardly be thought to rank among her "biggest hits." This is particularly notable since another Minnelli signature song, "Maybe This Time" from Cabaret, is missing despite the availability of more than one live version the Columbia albums. As such, 16 Biggest Hits cannot be recommended either as containing the "best" of Minnelli from the Sony archives or as a representative sampling of her work. (Fans, however, will want to pick it up for the Chicago songs, which have appeared previously on only one budget album.)

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