Life is a Cabaret: The Top 12 Liza Minnelli Albums

By Ben Rimalower
23 Nov 2013

Cover art

"Liza With A Z"

1972 was a really great year for Liza Minnelli, between her Oscar-winning triumph on screen in "Cabaret" and this Emmy-winning TV special, filmed live on Broadway. Most of my friends can recreate the entire broadcast without missing a beat. Although she'd already won a Tony Award and given concerts all over the world, this was the first full bloom of the Minnelli talent, undoubtedly due in no small part to the cultivation of director-choreographer Bob Fosse, who, together with writer Fred Ebb, knew just how to milk her raw energy and passionate verve.

She opens with "Yes," Kander and Ebb's infectious paean to positivity (captured on film exquisitely by Fosse in what must be regarded as a legitimate entry on his regrettably short roster of great films). Then, a stunning trio of songs — “God Bless The Child,” “Say Liza (Liza With A Z)” and “It Was A Good Time” — exploit (without being exploitative of) Minnelli's unique blend of obscurity and renown due to her famous family history. This is a front bookend to the closing medley of songs from "Cabaret," with stops in between for 1970s funk, musical comedy and minstrel, all of which Minnelli seamlessly integrates into her freshly minted persona. I suppose if you're only going to listen to one Liza Minnelli album, this ought to be it; although if you appreciate "Liza With A Z," I think you'll need at least some of the other recordings on this list.

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