Customer Reviews: The Ethel Merman Disco Album
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HALL OF FAMEon February 23, 2004
Ethel Merman's infamous disco album, simply called THE ETHEL MERMAN DISCO ALBUM, has now been reissued on the Fynsworth Alley/Varese Sarabande label, following years of being one of the most coveted and sought-after LP's for Broadway fans.
The unstoppable Miss Merman belts out a handful of her biggest songs including tunes from GYPSY as well as her legendary, star-making turn "I Got Rhythm" from GIRL CRAZY.
She's backed up by a chorus of singers as well as the droning, monotonous beats of the disco synthesiser. Merman apparently recorded her vocals separately with a piano accompaniment and her vocals were then mixed into the disco arrangements.
Surprisingly, this album is quite fun, though Broadway fans are likely to be the only ones who'll really enjoy hearing these classic showtunes in an entirely different light.
A great how about a reissue of Mae West's infamous but oh-so-enjoyable GREAT BALLS OF FIRE album???!!!??...
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on January 31, 2003
Anybody intending to buy this album because they want to hear the great Ethel Merman sing some GOOD disco is out of their mind. If you want good disco, stick to Donna Summer -- this album is definetly not your speed.
If, however, you want an album you can enjoy after a few glasses of wine (or is that whine?) this is the album for you. Ethel Merman, best known for her turn on Broadway -- one of the all-time great Broadway divas -- attempted to rekindle her dwindling career with of all things . . . a disco album! In usual Merman style, she barrels through these songs at breakneck speed, not even pausing to breath. Breath, of course, is not necessary for the Merman. She sang on pure adrenalin, gusto and verve.
Marvel at how she kicks up the beat in "I Get a Kick Out of You"!
Unwind as she competely destroys the rythym in "I've Got Rythym." Who could ask for anything more?
This album is worth its weight in gold for its kitch value. If you know anything about Broadway and the Merman, buy it and enjoy! All others should probably stay away -- unless you have a strong stomach!
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on November 9, 2004
I've owned the vinyl for years, and it never ceases to make an impression on visitors, who can scarcely believe such a thing existed. Although it is one of those late-era disco pieces that sounds forumulaic and the programmed beat canned, it IS indeed listenable because of the strength of the underlying broadway classics (by Irving Berlin, others) and the novelty of Merman's unmistakable voice & delivery. Be popular! Everyone wants to hear it, often more than once! I keep mine in a glass case alongside my Michael Jackson -brand soda can, bigfoot tracks, Sea Monkeys other cultural curiousities, until it's time to "boogie."
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on March 29, 2003
When Merman recorded this album in 1979, she was actually enjoying a resurgence in her popularity. Her autobiography was published the year before, and was a best seller. She and Mary Martin had done a one-night-only concert in 1977 that brought no less than five full pages of attention in the New York Times. Ethel was booked four years in advance with her concerts with symphony orchestras. And yes she was doing Merv Griffin, Johnny Carson, The Match Game and Hollywood Squares. The point is, Merman was very aware of publicity, and keeping her name current as opposed to being a nostalgia act. Thus, this disco album. Whether Merman was in good voice (she was), whether Peter Matz orchestrations were original and supportive (they weren't) didn't matter. Just the names Merman and Disco linked together gave Ethel another year's worth of free publicity. She understood the business of show business. She had the performing talent of a genius. When she had her illness in 1983, she was booked to appear on the Oscars, Tonys and Emmys all in the same year. She died the legend she always was. If you want to hear Ethel sing her signature songs (and it really is too bad she didn't record "Blow Gabriel Blow" here; I honestly think that could have been a disco hit) including the rarely recorded "Something For The Boys" with a dance beat, then rush to get a copy of this CD. There are all too few recordings of Merman in stereo as most of what is available on CD was waxed back in the 1930s and 1940s. Forget comparing this album with anything else and enjoy the party!
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The Ethel Merman Disco Album is probably not a CD that you should go running after anytime soon. Sure, Ethel Merman had lots of adoring fans; and yes, disco music made lots of people happy as they danced their cares away. But put the two together? Oh, wow, what a disappointment. My three stars is a generous rating for this CD. This is a CD of two polar opposites that just can't fit together. However, just in case you do want this album, the quality of the sound is excellent and the artwork is very well done.

"There's No Business Like Show Business" does indeed feature that awesome disco beat that I love--but not with Ethel Merman singing. It's just too much of a gap to listen to both of these sounds together. Ethel does, however, have excellent diction and this bolsters her singing; and the disco beat sounds great.

"Everything's Coming Up Roses" comes from Gypsy; and when Ethel sings this she really makes good--what a fine performance! Ethel Merman was born to sing numbers and classic pop vocals such as this tune. She performed in Gypsy at one point, too! The disco beat again sounds fine but the two of them together create a cacophony that I just can't get into--sorry, folks! In addition, there's also "I Get A Kick Out Of You." "I Get A Kick Out Of You" has Ethel singing at her very best--but why this with disco? No wonder Ethel recorded her vocals with just a piano accompaniment and then later on had these songs of hers copied and pasted onto the disco soundtrack! She was wise to know it would not sound good.

There's nothing wrong with Ethel Merman's singing on this CD--and the disco music is equally well done. Just not together, please, guys? This time I'm begging. Sigh. No relief in sight for me!

"Some People" comes from Gypsy, I believe; and Ethel Merman sings this with panache and lots of positive energy. She never misses a beat although one or two of her high notes don't seem to quite make it. Nevertheless, Ethel's performance remains a good one. Isn't it wonderful to have even more of that disco beat along with her singing? And do I want fries with that?

"Alexander's Ragtime Band" is a number that Ethel easily aces as she sings this to perfection--and beyond! This musical arrangement seems to work a little better than the others because of the horns in the musical arrangement. Oh, thank goodness--a small reprieve is much better than none!

" I Got Rhythm" has a better arrangement, too, thanks to the piano that runs through parts of this tune instead of the disco beat barreling through at a breakneck, nonstop pace. The CD also has a bonus track of Ethel doing "They Say It's Wonderful."

Hey, I hope you enjoy this album more than I did! I was frequently cringing when I listened to this--and I love so many different types of music, too! I personally think this the other reviewers are right--this is for diehard fans of Ethel Merman who want everything she did; and fans of show tunes may want to check this out as well. Other people like me? Well, I guess I better ease on down the road!
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on March 6, 2003
You gotta luv the 'ol gal for jumping on the disco bandwagon with everyone else in 1979. If Ann Margaret, Cheryl Ladd, Charo, John Travolta, and even Arthur Fiedler could do it, why not the original Broadway Babe herself? I remember seeing her on Johnny Carson in 1979 to promote this LP. She was tickled pink she had just made this album and was carrying on about how wonderful this opportunity was to resurrect her recording career, and that she was already back in the studio cutting more tracks for a second LP, because as she put it- "There are hundreds of showtunes to record!" Wonder where those other trax are today? Perhaps the bonus cut on this cd is actually from those sessions? I loved Ethel and simply feel that she recorded this album in the spirit of fun, and that is how the listener should take it. All the songs were the ones she sang back in the day, and kudos to her for doing them. You couldn't have expected her to do covers of "Love To Love You Baby" or "Knock On Wood". Although, I wonder how she could have handled "Mac Arthur's Park"? I like the fact that her big, booming voice, although sometimes bordering on obnoxious, was in top form for her age then. Perhaps this was a personal statement on her part to let everyone know the 'ol gal can still belt it out better than any other Diva on broadway. Interesting enough, Jennifer Holliday of Dreamgirls fame, once said on the Rosie O'Donnell show that when Dreamgirls became a huge hit on broadway, celebrities like Streisand and Merman came backstage to see her. Streisand gave her praise and advice: "Don't ever lose weight, you'll lose the voice". And Ethel Merman herself dissed Jennifer by telling her all the comparisons that critics were making of Ethel and Jennifer was pure hogwash and how dare they even think to compare Jennifer's voice to hers, why it was an insult! So, who knows.... maybe Ethel recorded this album to let everyone know she still had it and was staking her claim to the title.
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on January 24, 2005
This is the best album I've heard in years!

I am both a showtune and disco lover... and I absolutely loved this album! So do all my friends!! I so highly recommend this album to all music lovers-- and light hearted people who enjoy life!
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on August 16, 2004
This has got to be the most horrible album ever recorded. It's absolutely fascinating in it's awfulness. I couldn't stop listening to it for days. A "must have" for fans of bewildering recordings.
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on February 8, 2003
I don't for one minute believe that this LP was meant to be neither serious nor a challenge to some of the great disco performers of that era. I view it more as a novelty item like the recording done by William Shatner. I enjoyed it just knowing that old Ethel could still belt out a tune at her age. I hope she had fun making it because I had fun listening to it. If you don't like Ethel Mermen then don't bother buying this CD but if you're a fan then take it for what it is, an old woman at the end of her career just trying to kick up her heels. You go Ethel!
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on February 7, 2003
Yes, it is a travesty. But it is an obscure classic of the Disco era belted out by the Queen of show tunes! You'll laugh yourself into hysterics the first time you hear it, and your friends won't believe it's for real. I know - I have one of the very few original copies released on vinyl 25 years ago, and it's a collectors' item. Every time I have played it for friends, it has paid for itself ten times over. Even if you weren't dancing in the disco era, if you love the Merm, Show Tunes and dance music, you and your friends will love this CD.
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