Liza Minnelli – Results

I think I had always imagined that Liza Minnelli‘s pop career started with Results, and it is, but it turns out it was actually her ninth album in total, and one of her last. Pet Shop Boys were at the top of their game at the time

It opens with I Want You Now, a Pet Shop Boys composition that’s delivered with irritatingly theatrical flair. As with much of this album, the instrumentation comes from Pet Shop Boys‘ 1989 live tour crew, which leads to an eclectic sound at times. This isn’t, honestly, a great opening track, though – at least not for Pet Shop Boys fans – think about it, at this point they had just released their intriguingly dark dance album Introspective, and now this odd excursion into theatrical pop?

Things look up with the second track, Losing My Mind, later re-recorded with a less flamboyant and more nasal vocal by Neil Tennant and included as the b-side to their single Jealousy. It’s theatrical too – it’s a Stephen Sondheim composition – but the production here lifts it and makes it every bit as good as any Pet Shop Boys cover version. For Minnelli, it was her biggest hit, peaking at number 6 in the UK.

If There Was Love (“were there love,” surely?) is next, not necessarily a song that you could imagine Neil Tennant singing, but one that might have even fitted on the second side of Behaviour. Results is undeniably the sum of its part – you have Liza Minnelli with her theatrical influences, and Pet Shop Boys caught somewhere in the late 1980s, between the dance sounds of Introspective and the sombre mood of Behaviour.

So Sorry, I Said is lovely – there really isn’t any other way of describing it. The album’s third single in late 1989, it wasn’t much of a hit. That should have been obvious, really – the 7″ version was just the album version, which is downtempo to say the least – but it’s a sweet, appropriately apologetic song.

Don’t Drop Bombs isn’t exactly the polar opposite of the preceding track, but for the first time on here it’s really a full-on pop song. This is the sound of Pet Shop Boys truly collaborating – it could have been a perfectly good song of theirs, but as a Liza Minnelli song, it fits her well too. And while it may not be the best track ever recorded, with its huge eighties snares, it isn’t at all bad either.

There are a few unexpected tracks on here, and the cover of Tanita Tikaram‘s Twist in My Sobriety is one of them. What it really underlines is that the original song was great, and while I have no memory of what it sounded like for Tikaram, it works well for Minnelli. Even the whistling is forgivable, under the circumstances.

Less forgivable is the cover of Rent, with an orchestral arrangement by Angelo Badalamenti, who, as the silent partner on It Couldn’t Happen Here a couple of years earlier had helped provide one of the most beautiful moments of Pet Shop Boys‘ early career. Here, somehow his work has worked with the overbearing vocal delivery and butchered what was a beautifully melancholic track by turning it into a tacky showtune. It’s gaudy, and somehow even manages to sound insincere. It’s hard to imagine how this song could have turned out worse.

But that’s as bad as this album gets – final single Love Pains was a flop, but covers a disco classic, now as a Hi-NRG track. I could do without the key change under the circumstances, but it’s not bad. Then the cover of Tonight is Forever, from Pet Shop Boys‘ first album Please, is somewhat over-the-top, but works well, and is definitely well placed as the penultimate track on here.

Finally, I Can’t Say Goodnight is a new Pet Shop Boys composition, a broad jazzy, summery song, which has clearly been written especially for this album. Courtney Pine‘s saxophone solo in Left to My Own Devices on the duo’s 1989 tour may have been interminable, lasting for several decades at least, but his work here is well placed, and complements the vocals and backing well. The slow 6/8 rhythm gives it a typically murky feel which works well. It’s a good closing track.

Pet Shop Boys have since described Results as a PSB album with Liza Minnelli on vocals, and that isn’t unfair. In a sense, that means it will satisfy nobody, as fans of neither act are really likely to cross paths often, but even so, there are moments on this album when it works pretty well, so it shouldn’t be ignored outright.

You probably don’t need the 4-disc remastered edition of Results, but it’s certainly definitive – and can be found here.

Mercury Music Prize 1995-1997

By the mid-1990s, the Mercury Prize was firmly placed as a reliable guide to the albums worth hearing of that year. Certainly there were omissions – indie always seemed to be overrated, while the pop and R&B inclusions were a little unpredictable, but there are still a huge number of great albums in the lists below.

Mercury Music Prize 1995

Nominees:

  • Guy Barker – Into the Blue
  • Elastica – Elastica
  • PJ Harvey – To Bring You My Love
  • Leftfield – Leftism
  • James MacMillan – Seven Last Words from the Cross
  • Van Morrison – Days Like This
  • Oasis – Definitely Maybe
  • Portishead – Dummy
  • Supergrass – I Should Coco
  • Tricky – Maxinquaye

Winner: PortisheadNoel Gallagher famously thought he should have won for Definitely Maybe, but he turned out to be wrong.

Mercury Music Prize 1996

Took place on 10th September 1996.

Nominees:

  • Artists for War Child – Help
  • Black Grape – It’s Great When You’re Straight… Yeah!
  • Peter Maxwell Davies / BBC Philharmonic – The Beltane Fire / Caroline Mathilde
  • Manic Street Preachers – Everything Must Go
  • Mark Morrison – Return of the Mack
  • Oasis – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?
  • Courtney Pine – Modern Day Jazz Stories
  • Pulp – Different Class
  • Underworld – Second Toughest in the Infants
  • Norma Waterson – Norma Waterson

Winner: Pulp. Presented to Jarvis Cocker, who then immediately handed over the award to Brian Eno and Tony Crean for the Help project.

Mercury Music Prize 1997

Took place on 28th August 1997, at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.

Nominees:

  • The Chemical Brothers – Dig Your Own Hole
  • Beth Orton – Trailer Park
  • Primal Scream – Vanishing Point
  • The Prodigy – The Fat of the Land
  • Radiohead – OK Computer
  • Roni Size / Reprazent – New Forms
  • Spice Girls – Spice
  • Suede – Coming Up
  • John Tavener – Svyati
  • Mark-Anthony Turnage – Your Rockaby

Winner: Roni Size / Reprazent

Further information

The BRIT Awards 1989

Oh yes, 1989. The single most important year in the history of the BRITs. Broadcast live from London’s Royal Albert Hall, it’s the pop music event of the year. Samantha Fox and Mick Fleetwood famously presented for the first year that it was even called the BRIT Awards.

If you think that pairing a miniature Page Three model with an enormous Fleetwood Mac baldy might be a bad idea, you have little idea of the shambles which would follow. So disastrous was it, that the event wouldn’t be broadcast live for another decade. But on the plus side, we can watch the whole thing thanks to YouTube. So let’s sit back and enjoy the event of a lifetime in full. Part 1:

The show opens relatively poorly with Gloria Estefan, before the bizarrely paired hosts stumble on stage, eventually find their way to the microphones, and stumble their way through the show introduction.

Best British Single

Phil Collins arrives to put the hosts out of their misery, but disappointingly fails to kill either of them. Julian Lennon, although announced by the hosts, does not. Nominees:

  • Deacon Blue – Real Gone Kid
  • Fairground Attraction – Perfect
  • Robert Palmer – She Makes My Day
  • Tanita Tikaram – Twist In My Sobriety
  • Tom Jones & Art of Noise – Kiss

Cue some embarrassed filling by the hosts while the winners try to find the stage.

Winner: Fairground Attraction.

Best British Group

Presented by the fabulous The Fo… the wonderful The Four… the brilliant The Four Tops. Oh, it’s Boy George. Nominees:

  • Christians
  • Def Leppard
  • Erasure
  • Pet Shop Boys
  • Wet Wet Wet

Winner: Erasure.

Best International Male Solo Artist

This time, with a bit of culture (you know, because he was in Culture Club) it’s Boy Geo… oh, OK, The Four Tops. Nominees:

  • Alexander O’Neal
  • Luther Vandross
  • Michael Jackson
  • Prince
  • Terence Trent D’Arby

A clean sweep for… why on earth did he feel it necessary to bring race into it? The Four Tops steal the award, claiming they’ll pass it onto the winner “at some point”.

Winner: Michael Jackson.

At which point Fairground Attraction start doing bird impressions.

Best International Female

In possibly the worst introduction yet, we learn that Madonna has been busy glorying in her bask. Presented by Michael Hutchence and John Farris out of INXS. Nominees:

  • Anita Baker
  • Enya
  • Kylie Minogue
  • Tracy Chapman
  • Whitney Houston

Winner: Tracy Chapman.

Best British Album

Presented by Carol Decker and Mike Rutherford. Nominees:

  • Aztec Camera – Love
  • Fairground Attraction – First of a Million Kisses
  • Pet Shop Boys – Introspective
  • Steve Winwood – Roll With It
  • The Pasadenas – To Whom It May Concern

Winner: Fairground Attraction.

Best International Group

Whose turn is it? Um… no idea, let’s just fade the hosts out. Presented by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme out of 10cc. Nominees:

  • Bon Jovi
  • Fleetwood Mac
  • INXS
  • U2
  • Womack & Womack

Winner: U2.

Next up, Yazz, who sat on top of the chart for five weeks. Which must have been uncomfortable. Then Mark Knopfler and Alan Price bang on about the BRITs School for a bit.

Best British Newcomer

In an interesting move designed to completely outfox (ha!) the presenters, Ronnie Wood and Bill Wyman turn up with a mystery third person, without having shown us a list of “possibilities”. So the only nominee we know about is:

  • Bros

What a dreadful acceptance speech. Thanks Mum.

Winner: Bros.

Best International Newcomer

Presented by Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox out of Eurythmics, who seem to have locked the winner in a studio. Nominees:

  • Belinda Carlisle
  • Enya
  • Michelle Shocked
  • Salt ‘n’ Pepa
  • Tracy Chapman

Winner: Tracy Chapman.

Def Leppard turn up for some heavy, heavy metal. And massive perms.

Best Classical Recording

Presented by Courtney Pine and Mica Paris. Nominees:

  • Andre Previn – Violin & Viola Concertos: Walton
  • Jeffrey Tate – Opera Arias – Mozart – Kiri te Kanawa
  • Phillip Brunelle – Paul Bunyan – Britten
  • Simon Rattle – Symphony No 2 – Mahler
  • Trevor Pinnock – Messiah – Handel

Handel has been totally up there for loads of years.

Winner: Trevor Pinnock.

Best Soundtrack/Cast Recording

If we’re not careful then the whole show might grind to an abysmal and moody halt. Which would leave everyone feeling very pleased, probably. Presented by Justin Hayward, someone else out of The Moody Blues, and Belinda Carlisle.

  • Buster (various artists)
  • Good Morning Vietnam (various artists)
  • Hairspray (various artists)
  • Rattle and Hum (U2)
  • The Princess Bride (Mark Knopfler)

Winner: Buster, accepted by Phil Collins and The Four Tops.

Tanita Tikaram then performs in a suit.

Best Music Video

Voted for by viewers of Going Live on BBC1, and presented by Jools Holland, outshouted by Ken Russell. Nominees:

  • Bananarama – Nathan Jones
  • George Harrison – When We Was Fab
  • Michael Jackson – Smooth Criminal
  • The Christians – Harvest for the World
  • Wet Wet Wet – Temptation

Winner: Michael Jackson.

Best British Male Solo Artist

By this stage we’ve pretty much settled into a pretty dreadful style. Presented by Joan Armatrading and Joe Elliott. Nominees:

  • Chris Rea
  • George Michael
  • Phil Collins
  • Robert Palmer
  • Steve Winwood

Winner: Phil Collins.

Best British Female Solo Artist

Presented by Tina Turner, complete with the kind of sexist introduction that you’ve never seen in any tabloid newspaper. Nominees:

  • Annie Lennox
  • Mica Paris
  • Sade
  • Tanita Tikaram
  • Yazz

Winner: Annie Lennox.

Bros follow with a lot of jumping around.

Outstanding Contribution

Presented by the chairman of the BPI Peter Jamieson, who should really have been hanging his head in shame by this stage.

Winner: Cliff Richard. After an appallingly pseudo-religious speech, Cliff deservedly leaves the stage to almost total silence.

Which artist could be singled out to close a show like this? I think we’d agree, no one. Mark Knopfler, Randy Newman and the BRITs Supergroup close the show with a song which even the performers don’t even seem to be enjoying, and finally the thing comes to an end.

Performances

  • Bros – I Owe You Nothing
  • Def Leppard – Pour Some Sugar On Me
  • Fairground Attraction – Perfect
  • Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine – Rhythm Is Gonna Get You
  • Mark Knopfler, Randy Newman and the BRITs Supergroup – Falling in Love
  • Tanita Tikaram – Good Tradition
  • Yazz – Got to Share

Further Reading / Viewing