Liza Minnelli

Simply the Best

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The album title simply isn't true. This compilation, assembled by the German branch of Sony Music Entertainment's Columbia Records label, draws on recordings Liza Minnelli made for Columbia that were released on four LPs between 1972 and 1977 -- the studio albums Liza Minnelli, The Singer (1973) and Tropical Nights (1977), and the concert albums Liza with a "Z" (1972) and Live at the Winter Garden (1974). This period did mark a commercial high-water mark for the singer as a recording artist, with three of these four albums reaching the U.S. charts. But the material is an odd mixture, and this compilation doesn't even choose the best of what was available. There is a heavy reliance on Liza Minnelli, The Singer, with nine of that album's 11 tracks taking up more than half the selections here. On that collection, Minnelli simply recorded pop/rock songs that happened to be on Top 40 radio in 1972-1973, among them ones that have become standards, such as "You're So Vain," and others that are rarely heard in their original versions even on oldies radio. Another four tracks come from Tropical Nights, which is arguably Minnelli's weakest LP, a misbegotten attempt at an R&B/disco approach. That leaves only three tracks from the live albums -- "Son of a Preacher Man" and "Cabaret" from Liza with a "Z" and, from Live at the Winter Garden, "If You Could Read My Mind" (actually a medley with "Come Back to Me" from On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, although you won't learn that from the CD package). Liza Minnelli's Columbia catalog is a mixed bag, but it is possible to construct a much better selection of it than this one.

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