Results, Liza Minnelli’s 1989 album made in collaboration with Pet Shop Boys and recently given a deluxe reissue by Cherry Red Records, should have been a breakthrough for both artists involved. In a just universe, it would have kickstarted a career resurrection for the former, ushering in a new chapter that found her wrapping those distinctive vocals around fresh pop music. And for Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, they could have had a tidy sideline helping bring singers of the past into the present (something they also attempted to do with Dusty Springfield one year later).
In this world, though, despite the chart success that Results scored in Europe, both acts went back to their respective lanes: Minnelli would go on to star and sing in the lukewarm musical comedy Stepping Out in 1991; Pet Shop Boys spent 1990 writing and recording their masterful album Behaviour.
Results represents then is a brief but glorious pop conflagration, a chance for Tennant and Lowe to give a symphonic makeover to two of their best songs (“Rent” and “Tonight Is Forever”) while also playing with a couple of songs written by others (Stephen Sondheim’s “Losing My Mind” and the bold choice of Tanita Tikaram’s “Twist In My Sobriety”), and for Minnelli to step outside her comfort zone of Broadway favorites and jazz standards. It was a baldly commercial endeavor that worked.
What makes that such a rarity is that, outside of Anne Dudley’s orchestral re-arrangements, no one tried to change themselves to fit the project. The music that the Pet Shop Boys conceived for this represents the exact creative midway point between their 1988 album Introspective and Behaviour. “I Want You Now” and “If There Was Love” have the healthy 303-driven throb of the then-contemporary acid house scene, and tracks like “Losing My Mind” and “Love Pains” are continuations of the same dramatic synthpop that they applied to their own work. They even get a little daring with the “Sobriety” cover, turning the steady thrum of the original into swirling, sexy midtempo pop complete with a “Liza With a A Z”-referencing rap from A Certain Ratio drummer Donald Johnson.
Not that we should have expected anything more from her, but the glory of Results is that Liza remains Liza throughout. There’s no effort to try and keep up with the pop divas of the day. If anything she restrains herself from reaching for the cheap seats with her performances, going low and moody on the Sondheim cover and the lightly swinging closing track “I Can’t Say Goodnight.” There’s a touch of skyscraping Streisand-like drama on “Love Pains” and “Don’t Drop Bombs,” but those are the exceptions more than the rule. But to get to to the true heart of the album, head directly to the cover of “Rent,” which turns a slightly cheeky pop song into a dark expression of a kept woman thanks to Minnelli’s breathy vocal turn and the moving sweep of the string section beneath it.
Your interest in this album will truly be tested by whether or not you decide to indulge in this four-disc boxed set. The two bonus CDs included offer up little more than the many remixes created to accompany the singles from the LP. The true attraction, beyond the nicely remastered version of the original album, is the DVD which compiles the videos Minnelli made for the singles and a TV appearance from the U.K. where she performs “Love Pains.” Sure, it’s missing other treats like Liza’s appearance on Arsenio Hall or the extended interview she and Pet Shop Boys did with Terry Wogan, but it’s still worth it to see how she squeezed herself into the late ‘80s, MTV-driven promotional world. And it reiterates the disappointing truth that she didn’t feel the need to continue down that road. What delights we missed out on.