March 12, 2012

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It’s Liza Minnelli birthday today. The actress/singer/dancer was born March 12, 1946 in Hollywood, California, the only child from the marriage of show-biz legend Judy Garland and film director Vincente Minnelli.

Liza Minnelli

Liza’s career album discography begins in ’64 with her Capitol debut Liza! Liza! and runs right up through 2010 with Confessions (Decca/Universal).

But there’s one that got away: The never-released album Liza recorded in 1971 with producer Rick Hall at the fabled FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

How do we know such an improbable recording even exists? Because the Minnelli/Muscle Shoals sessions left a paper trail through the Burbank CA headquarters of Warner Bros. Records. It begins with this memo from Rick Hall to WB President Mo Ostin, accompanying a tape of the just-completed album:

From RICK HALL, the wind-up and the pitch to WB President MO OSTIN.

Mo passes the tape along to WB a&r man Ted Templeman, the ex-Harper’s Bizarre singer/guitarist turned Warner staff producer of the Doobie Brothers, Van Morrison, Captain Beefheart, and Little Feat. Ted likes a lot of what he hears…but there’s just one “difficulty.”

TED TEMPLEMAN listens to the Minnelli/Muscle Shoals tracks.

Mo Ostin hands Rick Hall a ticket to “Pass-adena,” gently murmuring something about having too many female artists on his label already:

MO to RICK: Not this time, good buddy, but keep in touch...