Liza Minnelli

Live at the Olympia in Paris

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Taken from a performance in December 1969 and originally intended only as a French release, Liza Minnelli's first solo concert album Live at the Olympia in Paris appeared in the U.S. in 1972 as a contractual obligation release concluding her tenure with A&M Records, in between her appearance in the movie musical Cabaret (the concluding song on the LP) and her U.S. television special Liza with a "Z" (which resulted in her second solo concert album, released within a matter of months); the title song for that special, a piece of special material she had been doing for years, also appears here, albeit sung in French. Because Minnelli had been performing a successful nightclub and concert act since 1965, it is surprising that no documentation of it was made on record for such a long time. (She did appear on one of her mother's live albums, the Judy Garland/Liza Minnelli LP "Live" at the London Palladium, released in 1965.) This one, while it covers much of the act, isn't really definitive, since it is given a French orientation, even if the singer (who briefly attended the Sorbonne) seems embarrassed by her rudimentary French. The material is a curious mixture of old pop standards and current pop/rock material, a mixture addressed right at the start when she combines "Consider Yourself" from the musical Oliver! with the chorus of the Doors' "Hello, I Love You" before veering off into "I Gotta Be Me." A medley of "Everybody's Talking" (from the current hit movie Midnight Cowboy) is done as a medley with "Good Morning Starshine" (from the current hit musical Hair), then followed by Billie Holiday's "God Bless the Child." "Married" from Cabaret gives way to Sonny & Cher's "You Better Sit Down, Kids" (from marriage to divorce), and so on. Somehow, all of this is stitched together by the singer's own enthusiasm. She is so vivacious and bubbly that she simply tramples all contradictions and even pleases an audience that must be as appalled as she is with her French accent. Whether belting out the Al Jolson standard "My Mammy" or taking possession of "Cabaret" (both songs that must have had associations with her mother, who had died earlier in 1969), Minnelli displays a magnetic appeal that comes across on record even as it had in person and was beginning to on film and television.

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