||From the Vault...
"Classic Album Collection"
© Golden Stars Records
Polish National Dance
In E-Flat Minor
Maiden's Wish Samba
As Time Goes By
The Story Of
Concerto No. 1
I Don't Care
(As Long As You
Care For Me)
Tales From The
I'll Be Seeing You
Concerto No. 2
Yakety Yak Polka
Begin The Beguine
Slaughter On Tenth Avenue
The Old Piano Roll Blues
Indian Love Call
Mexican Hat Dance
Rhapsody By Candlelight
Alexander's Ragtime Band
Claire De Lune
Beer Barrel Polka
Nocturne In E-Flat Major
Liberace related sites:
"Classic Album Collection"
Whether you liked him, loved him, or even disliked him, Liberace was a true showman. Sure, he was different, sure, he was musically gifted,
sure, he was gay. So? Like many talent musicians like him, he should be easily recognized for what he did best in the entertainment world: That was
playing the piano.
Growing up, and observing his outstanding stage persona, Liberace was gifted by playing the piano. Classical piano at best. Probably another close
outstanding piano player to him, is Rick Wakeman. Just listening to Liberace's music (and even Wakeman's classical albums), there was nothing like it.
Liberace marks his debut this week as a WSVNRadio Album Pick of the Week, with his 3-disc set of original albums, and other tracks. The original albums are:
Liberace At The Piano (1954), Liberace By Candlelight (release date unknown?), An Evening With Liberace (1955), and Liberace At The
Hollywood Bowl (1955). Liberace At The Piano reached #1 on the Billboard Album Charts for one week. It was his only #1 achievement.
The first disc's 12 tracks are from Liberace At The Piano. Not a bad track here (same for this entire set)... Classics like "Stardust,"
"Easter Parade," "As Time Goes By" are here. What impresses the most are his songs where he showcases "fast-styled" playing: "Carioca," "Maiden's
Wish Samba." For the Classical fan, Liberace puts his touches on Listz's "Liebstraum," great classical works on "Polish National Dance In E-Flat
Major," "Warsaw Concerto," "Eighteenth Variation Theme From The Story Of Three Loves," "The Rosary." On the topic of Classical, "Malaguena"
is powerful, magical, Classical. Beethoven's "depressing sounding" (c'mon, you know this song, you've heard it a million times), "Moonlight Sonata"
is here, and no, it doesn't make the album bad, it's just another common popular Classical song that has been performed by many, and Liberace does extremely
well on it, as well as the other tracks here.
The remaining 4 tracks on Disc 1 starts Liberace By Candlelight. And as it's title, this is a great assortment of Classical pieces easily setting
the background entertainment for dining. "Tchaikovsky's Piano Conerto No. 1" is considered a Classical classic (another one you've definitely heard
of). "Autumn Nocturne" is a great track for romantic dining, and "Tales From The Vienna Woods" is another great track to have in the background
while enjoying the special occasion dinner. "I Don't Care (As Long As You Care For Me)" not only has Liberace's piano playing, he also sings!
Not to say Liberace was as exceptional as a singer to his piano playing, it was a good idea for him to stick with piano playing. His singing isn't really
bad (but it could have); just to say his singing (and there a few of those on this entire set) -- is quite tolerable, yet it's his instrumental piano playing
truly stands out. Looking at the credits of each song, there were some written by Liberace -- "I Don't Care (As Long As You Care For Me)," "Yakety Yak
Polka," "Rhapsody By Candlelight," "Liberace Boogie." "Chopsticks" says it was by him, but I think this one was an arrangement, as most piano players
record their versions of well-known songs by previous composers, and arrange them in their own ways.
Disc Two continues on, with Liberace By Candlelight: Another vocal track by him, it would be a theme song for him, the popular "I'll Be
Seeing You." Composer Listz gets the nod again on "Listz's Piano Concerto No. 2 Franz Listzt may not have been as popular as Beethoven,
Tchaikovsky, and the likes, yet Liberace (as well as Rick Wakeman) recorded their versions of the composer's compositions. Although he lived 74 years,
Listz did develop a huge body of music, and some, like Liberace and Wakeman, were fortunate to intoduce Listz's music to future generations. (Wakeman
recorded an entire album to Listz -- Listzomania, featuring Roger Daltrey.
And for those who are familiar with 19th Century classical music, "Jalousie (Jealousy)" is a track where most will remember. Likewise, another
popular song that was introduced in the Big Band Era, "September Song." (I was first introduced to this song by Willie Nelson's version, from his
album of old standards, Stardust.)
Disc Two then begins An Evening With Liberace. (I was researching the year of release on this one, and most sites were saying unknown. I did find
one listed as 1953, but that remains a question mark.) Fast piano playing takes the stand on "Yakety Yak Polka," and on another classic, "Begin
The Beguine" -- the latter I have always heard much slower version than that here, by Liberace. Liberace sings on "Cement Mixer (Put-Ti, Put-Ti),"
and the Classical piano style returns on "Slaughter On Tenth Avenue." "Tico-Tico" is another fast paced track, as it slightly resembles the song
"Flight Of The Bumble Bee" aka "The Green Hornet Theme." (I could easily see/hear Liberace's version of the Green Hornet theme, as it was by
the rock version ("Bumble Bee Boogie", performed by B. Bumble & The Stingers). Classical style on "Sophisticated Lady," fast piano style on
"Cumana," the classic "Chopsticks," and Liberace sings on "The Old Piano Roll Blues." The last two tracks are from An Evening With
Liberace, and closing out the second disc of this set -- "Indiana Love Call" -- which is an instrumental version, where I am used to hearing this
song vocally by Nelson Eddy & Jeannette McDonald, where most people refer the title of this song as "When I'm Calling You." The last track is
another fast piano style -- "Mexican Hat Dance."
The last disc shows what could just be the REAL entertaining factor behind Liberace -- a concert from the Hollywood Bowl. (This album would be reissued
as a 2-disc set, as the original Liberace At The Hollywood Bowl consisted of only 7 tracks. The original 1954 concert was two and a half hours long.)
As seeing him on TV while growing up, I am sure his concerts were just as superb watching him perform. What makes the entertaining factor of Liberace,
was how he would talk to the audience before each song. His humor was just as unique as his character personality... He chats quite long with his audience,
enjoying how the audience accepted his humor. For example, he introduced his band, and explained how his music critics did not like him, for four minutes.
During some of the songs (as you hear on this set), he interrupts his playing, or he talks along while the band plays. Nowadays, most people of today's
age would refer to him as more of a "comedian" -- or ever worse, how most people learned of how he lived his life (being gay, although he denied it most
cases), and how he died, of AIDS, people clearly did not like how he lived in the flamboyant lifestyle. (More on this here...)
Of the seven tracks from the original Hollywood Bowl concert, he sings on two: The classic "Alexander's Ragtime Band" (most famous by
Al Jolson, from my knowledge), and "Cement Mixer," as he did earlier here on this CD set, from An Evening With Liberace. The remaining
tracks shows his live expertise of piano playing, whether it be fast, or just as in the standard Classical mode. Liberace may have been "unique," and
"different," but he proved to everyone he could play the piano better than anyone.
The remainder of the third disc has three more songs from the Hollywood Bowl concert, labeled on this set as From Hollywood Bowl Encore.
A 4-minute medley of music by Chopin -- "Waltz In D-Flat Major," "Minute Waltz," "Nocturne In C Minor," "Waltz In A-Flat," "Polonaise In A-Flat Major."
He puts his own touches on the next two tracks, "Hey, Liberace," and "Liberace Boogie." The last two tracks, one from Piano Reverie,
the classic Leroy Anderson composition, "Blue Tango." The last track was from Liberace Plays Chopin -- "Nocturne In E-Flat Major.
Piano Reverie was released in 1955, consisting of six tracks. These tracks all appeared on either Liberace By Candlelight and An Evening
With Liberace. (I'm not sure if they were the exact versions, most likely so, since all three albums released in the same time period.
Liberace Plays Chopin was released from Canada, no release year was shown, and I'm not sure if this is the actual release where the track "Nocturne
In E-Flat Major" is not listed on the Canada version, when I researched it.
As for his "entertaining the audience" in between and during his songs: He had an opening welcome message before the first song, a "let's get
acquainted" monologue, his views on his critics, talking about his brother George, (who was the band orchestra leader for the concert), "the wonderful
art of playing latin percussion instruments," "speaking of Milwaukee...," various spoken intros, "inspiration and encouragement," "Mom, take a bow" (his
mother was always in the first row of his concerts), and a closing theme. Not only was the audience entertained musically, Liberace's words of influence,
encouragement, and whatever else he could think of, was also a contributing entertainment factor.
Whether you either liked him or not, Liberace was a true genius, as a musician. His unqiue piano playing was gifted. His character and personality
was also another factor. Towards the end of his life, there were many gay rumors. He denied he was gay, sued, and won from this accusation. But in the
end, the rumors were true, as he died of AIDS on February 4, 1987. He was 67.
The last ten years of his life was featured in the movie
Behind The Candelabra. The storyline of the movie was based on the
secret affair between Liberace (played by Michael Douglas) and Scott Thorson (played by Matt Damon). This secret affair was based on Thorson's memoir,
Behind The Candelabra: My Life With Liberace (1988). I saw this movie, and my "review" of it, is pretty bizarre. The life Liberace lead towards
this time was living a flamboyantly and somewhat dangerous lifestyle -- going to gay clubs, having other gay men, and risking his career. Of course, there
are many homophobics who would trash Liberace's character, and how he died. If everything in this movie was actually true (I'm referring to the other HBO
movie on Phil Spector [portrayed by Al Pacino] -- where at the beginning of the movie, it was stated that most, if not all the facts in this movie may or
may NOT be true). Well, since this was based on Thorson's memoir, I guess it all was true. Liberace may have lead a life and lifestyle disagreeable to many,
but his "claim to fame" was his music. He should be remembered for his music, but sad to say, he will be more remembered on how he died. The same goes for
Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and I'm sure there are other celebrities I cannot remember at the top of my head at this time.
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