After I heard this two CD set, I said to myself, "Oh come on, who could ask for anything more from Liza's years at Capitol Records? What a punch this packs!"
Indeed, this two CD set, so ably produced by Scott Schechter, noted Liza Minnelli and Judy Garland historian, is a treasure for Liza's fans. It marks the first time that Liza's record albums Liza! Liza!, It Amazes Me and There Is A Time are on CD together as albums without being cut up or the tracks being shuffled around. This two CD set also is far superior to the single CD The Capitol Years by Liza simply because it's actually COMPREHENSIVE!!!
These songs are wonderfully performed by one of the greatest talents ever known, Liza Minnelli. Her voice is rich, vibrant and exhilarating at every turn. The quality of the sound is excellent and the songs offer up beautiful musical arrangements.
I love the sensitivity with which Liza delivers "Try to Remember;" and her performance of "Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out" is very well done. There is the lesser known, older song "M'Lord" that she sings really well; and the CD ends with the classic and humorous "Say Liza (Liza With a 'Z')."
The liner notes boast an essay by Scott Schechter and the package design is tastefully done.
Liza fans will find this collection irresistible and an absolute must-have for their collections.
I also highly recommend this two CD set for fans of quality pop vocals. It's an excellent retrospective of Liza's work in the studio during the years she worked at Capitol Records. Viva Liza!
on August 1, 2006
The prospect of having all of Liza Minnelli's studio recordings for the Capitol label is irresistible. Ms Minnelli recorded for the label for 4 years starting in 1963, resulting in three stunning albums, various singles and a number of unreleased tracks. All these have been collected for this 2 CD set.
Let's begin with what's good about this set...and there is an abundance of wonderful features to it. The best, of course, is hearing the legendary Liza May at the very outset of her career and experiencing firsthand the promise she exhibited as a teenager. From the 17 year old at the outset of her tenure with the label, Liza's growth as a singer is charted through these 55 tracks that deliver some very accomplished singing from one so young. Even at this very tender age, there was a maturity and earthy elegance about Liza's singing and choice of material that belies her youth. Her exuberance is infectious and the effortless way in which she uses her voice, especially in the upper range on softly floated notes is astounding. It's easy to see why four decades later she is the revered entertainer that she is.
It's also wonderful to have the three albums (Liza! Liza!/It Amazes Me!/There Is A Time) in their entirety at last on CD with the tracks sequenced as they were on the original vinyl lps. Add to this the many fine tracks that were conceived and released as singles and here is a set that demands repeated listening. The singles, which have been out of print since originally released, include some real gems. For example, there are four songs from the score of Liza's Broadway debut "Flora The Red Menace" which were arranged in a very contemporary 1960's style allowing them to exist outside the context of the show. "I'm Not Laughing" and "Imprevu", are just two examples of quality songs that deserve to heard again.
Then, there are nine tracks that are released here for the first time:
Walk Right In/Why Do You Do Me Like You Do
My Little Corner Of The World
We'll Be Together
The Many Faces Of Love
Everybody Loves My Baby
Marriage Is For Old Folks
Come On And Baby Me
All the above are excellent performances from Liza and we should all be grateful that at last we get to hear them.
Finally, the remastering of these performances is excellent and makes even the familiar album tracks seem fresh and new. For instance, there is a hand clap during "The Travelin' Life" that I've never heard before though it's one of my favourite Liza cuts and one I listen to often.
What's not to like about the set? Not much but for Liza-files like me there are some things that irk: The packaging includes replicas of the three original album covers although the artwork of "There Is A Time", featured on the back of the CD jewel case, is not seen in full. Also, the rear album sleeves are not duplicated nor are the original liner notes included. Then, there is little discographical information and what is included is hard to follow. The essay is hardly enlightening leaving more questions than it answers. For example, "There Is A Time" is a concept album of French or French influenced songs though this is not hinted at in the section of the essay concerning this release nor is the obvious comparison with Streisand's French album "Je mapelle Barbra" released the same year mentioned. Also, why did Liza leave Capitol Records in 1966 and move A&M? You won't find out by reading the essay here. Finally, why call the collection "The Complete Capitol Collection" when clearly nothing from "Judy Garland And Liza Minnelli At The London Palladium", the 1965 live Capitol album is included? Surely, "The Complete Capitol Studio Recordings" would have been more appropriate and correct.
The packaging flaws aside, in the end it's the music that really matters and what music it is. My advice: if you love Liza grab this set. It's an essential part of any Liza-files collection. If you want to know what all the fuss about Liza Minnelli is about, this is a good place to start.
on August 2, 2006
Kudos to Scott Schechter for all the blood, sweat, tears and years of devotion to this latest Liza treasure..."The Complete Capitol Collection." Brilliant!
There are so many gems here, but having listened to the previously released albums over and over, I was particularly intrigued by the never-released material, and especially "At My Age," which showcases Liza's vocal control and vibrant vibrato. How on earth did this beautiful song not make the cut originally?
The liner notes must be the longest I've ever read...beautifully written with stunning Liza images. Who could ask for more?
Now I wonder when Capitol will release the on-the-shelf restored, re-mastered "Judy and Liza at the Palladium" two-cd set. Come on, Capitol, release it already. You missed the 40th Anniversary (November, 2004) boat...please don't make us wait any longer.
Thanks so much, Scott. What's next...the A&M catalog (w/all the goodies that were never released), the complete Winter Garden Columbia release, with all the songs in proper sequence.
Here's to your continued good health and success and congrats on your recent Germany and Greece concerts, Liza May!
If you love Liza, you'll cherish this amazing DRG release featuring a young legend in waiting.
on August 2, 2006
A big fat "HALLELUJAH" to the folks at DRG for releasing all three of Liza's Capitol albums from the 1960s exactly as they were originally packaged, along with the singles.
The first two albums paired the amazing Liza with the arranging genius of the brilliant but sorely missed Peter Matz, while the third "There is a Time" (heard by these ears for the first time) featured gorgeous settings by Ray Ellis. Messrs. Matz and Ellis are two of my favorite arrangers for singers, period.
A huge bonus was the singles - need I say more?
The only low spot for me was NOT including the fabulous double pow-wow concert album with Mama Judy at the London Palladium - that would have made this package really complete. But Miss Liza is the star here - and Capitol knew that at the time of her signing that a future superstar was in the making.
We should all be grateful to the folks at DRG for making the deal with Capitol and getting Liza's first three albums and all of the singles released in one comprehensive package. It's a great treat for Liza fans to be able to listen to the work from her early years -- when she was young and raw and, really, quite thrilling. The albums are terrific. Liza was in good hands and they found material for her that was targeted toward a sophisticated pop audience and not unlike the material that Barbra Streisand was recording over at Columbia during the same time period. She had the pipes and wasn't afraid to get out front and use them.
The singles are interesting and amusing. They're more aimed at the teen market and it's fascinating to hear Liza doing work projected to the younger crowd. Largely, the singles weren't made to be remembered and they'll get less spin in my iPod than the other stuff, but I'm grateful to get to hear them.
If you're a Liza fan -- this is a must. But, if you've never thought you'd like her, then you should try this collection because the first three albums were astonishingly good and have been overlooked for many years.
on November 9, 2006
This wonderfully entertaining anthology reminds me how much I always loved Liza's Capitol LPs. It's great to have them all together. The singles are fascinating ! Liza had to record lesser material sometimes, but she is always fully invested in what she does. I was a friend of the producer, Scott Schecter, and he's done a wonderful job here. He's a true Judy-Liza expert. This set is recommended both to fans who are new to Liza, and those who need some Liza CDs but don't know what to pick. Good music all the way !
on September 14, 2006
This is a very welcome issue, the three LPs and a raft of rare singles. Liza Minnelli was a teenager and given her vocal style the raw quality just pays off, there is an almost rock energy fed into standards and new material by the likes of Kander and Ebb. This is also the period when she most sounded like her mother, the power. Her instrument only wore down over her career even five years later. (Though the A&M material, due for this kind of issue, has a lot of interest too, particularly her early recordings of Randy Newman). Though "Cabaret" is her height, Fosse was her undoing as a singer and actress, those mannerisms took over. Here she is fresh and surprising; the same kind of difference between the early Streisand and later, though in Streisand's case she got too refeened, her voice airbrushed of feeling. Like early Frank Sinatra, Liza's just a different performer young. Success didn't enhance her abilities. I wouldn't trade this for all her later recordings. Hopefully the "Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood" will be issued, which in spite of some odd Bob Merrill lyrics has a good Styne score and more Liza of this era.