As the weather warms up and we head further into summer, Liza Minnelli's phenomenal disco album is increasingly finding its way into my stereo. This record is perfect background music for those languid summer evenings spent sipping strawberry daiquiris with your friends by the beach, sweating like a whore but looking fabulous in your (preferably sequined) glad rags. "Tropical Nights" is a must for any Liza fan and also makes a good starting point for those painful homosexuals who dismiss old school divas as embarrassing relics of a bygone era. Throw away that Mariah CD; it's time to get correct!
I adore just about everything Ms Minnelli has ever recorded but one album stands head and shoulders above the rest for me. "Tropical Nights" is by far the most accessible collection of songs that Liza has ever recorded. However, it is not really disco at all. Rather, it was an attempt to modernise Liza's sound for the musical tastes of the late 1970s. There are echoes of disco, particularly in the sublime title track, but for the most part "Tropical Nights" plays like a more upbeat, contemporary Liza album. Therefore, it is all the more bewildering why this record was considered to be such an embarrassment that it was only available in Japan for decades. "Tropical Nights" is nothing like the somewhat undignified disco moments of other Broadway legends. This album is a thing of beauty from beginning to end.
The first song I've uploaded is the gorgeous "I'm Your New Best Friend". This is one of the few songs that has a traditional disco sound. However, the song is still very organic and guitar driven. As with the entire album, the instrumentation is glorious. They don't make them like this anymore.
"Tropical Nights/Bali Ha'i" is one of my all time favourite songs. This is sonic perfection from the crazy brass instruments that open the song, to the "show tune goes disco" sound and the fabulous lyrics. Then there are the strings that take the song to a whole new level in the middle and the wonderfully spooky breakdown towards the end, first with guitars, then drums and finally brass. This song is a true original and it comes highly recommended. I'm yet to play this number to a trannie who hasn't immediately hitched her skirt and started dancing on a table!
Liza returned to a more traditional sound with "I Love Every Little Thing About You", a duet with an uncredited male singer. This is a gorgeous mid-tempo ballad with just a hint of calypso madness. Liza has never sounded more spectacular.
Even if Liza generally makes you want to run for the hills, give these songs a go. You might just be surprised. "Tropical Nights" is now widely available from most online music retailers. Several E-bay stores are currently selling the album for a reasonable price.