The year: 1989. The artist: Liza with a Á¢€Å“zÁ¢€. The idea: Bring Liza back into the present out of the standards ghetto sheÁ¢€â„¢d been reduced to by teaming her with the Pet Shop Boys, who would write, produce and play on her new album. The results: Á¢€Å“ResultsÁ¢€. The verdict?
Not half bad.
There are two stories floating around about how this project came to be Á¢€” one has LizaÁ¢€â„¢s then-current recording manager, none other than KissÁ¢€â„¢s Gene Simmons, suggesting the collab. Another version has a Sony exec, quite probably Walter Yetnikoff, sparking the idea. In either case, it was one of those wild ideas that smacked of both desperation and inspiration Á¢€” combine the most camp, gayest sensibilities of the Pet Shop Boys with the most camp, gayest icon short of her mother, Liza Minnelli.
Á¢€Å“ResultsÁ¢€ was a mix of previously recorded Pet Shop Boys tunes like Á¢€Å“RentÁ¢€ and Á¢€Å“Tonight Is ForeverÁ¢€, alongside some carefully selected covers (including a bewildering version of Tanita TikaramÁ¢€â„¢s Á¢€Å“Twist In My SobrietyÁ¢€) and new PSB material. Something in the songs must have breathed some life in olÁ¢€â„¢ Liza, since she toned down much of the histrionics that had plagued her delivery and actually emoted, giving the songs surprising depth. That didnÁ¢€â„¢t mean the album was without its campy moments.
First single Á¢€Å“Losing My Mind,Á¢€ a Stephen Sondheim composition, seems almost unfair to put Liza through, considering her past. But luckily, Liza was in on the joke and delivered a winking performance like a champ. Dance clubs went nuts for it (imagine that), and Liza had a bona fide hit single Á¢€” Á¢€Å“Losing My MindÁ¢€ peaked at #6 on the U.K. charts. U.S. radio, predictably, wanted nothing to do with it.
Now imagine Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford as a Disco Diva and you get the idea behind the albumÁ¢€â„¢s follow-up single, Á¢€Å“DonÁ¢€â„¢t Drop BombsÁ¢€. To wit:
I’d rather not have to hear about
Your other girls on your expense account
I know you carry on, behind my back
With your secretary, you’ll have a heart attack
WhatÁ¢€â„¢s not to love?
But as was noted earlier, it wasnÁ¢€â„¢t all wink-wink nudge-nudge campy fun. The album has some honestly earnest moments, most notably Á¢€Å“Love Pains,Á¢€ a disco hit first made famous by Yvonne Elliman. ItÁ¢€â„¢s shocking to hear some actual grit in LizaÁ¢€â„¢s voice, especially during the chorus Á¢€” itÁ¢€â„¢s a side she should have explored more, instead of marrying gay plastic surgery addicts and popping Xanax.
Á¢€Å“ResultsÁ¢€ is pleasantly surprising. DonÁ¢€â„¢t let the fact that itÁ¢€â„¢s Liza Minnelli scare you off, especially if youÁ¢€â„¢re a Pet Shop Boys fan. The album must have done okay since itÁ¢€â„¢s not only still in print, but there’s now a remastered version, complete with bonus remixes and a DVD of all the videos made to promote the album.
Score: Liza Á¢€” 1, New Wave Á¢€” 0. Decision, Liza.
Minnelli went on to record more standards, Broadway-ish things, but never returned to the pop charts. She did, however, earn major cool cred points by portraying Lucille 2 on “Arrested Development”, the greatest sitcom since “Seinfeld”. So for that, she gets major props.
Á¢€Losing My MindÁ¢€ peaked at #11 on the Billboard Hot Dance Music Sales chart in 1989.
Á¢€Å“Love PainsÁ¢€ peaked at #40 on the same chart the same year.