Bad ideas really don't come much worse than this, now do they? In 1979 -- the very tail-end of the disco era, if not the beginning of the post-disco era -- A&M thought it wise to make "The Ethel Merman Disco Album." Broadway diva, wobble-voiced queen of show tunes, Merman was 71 when she went in the studio to record disco versions of "I Get a Kick Out of You," "There's No Business Like Show Business" and other songs she'd made her own on Broadway stages. The results are expectedly awful and, needless to say, the album wasn't quite the hit A&M had hoped for. But, like all things awful, it took on a life of its own, being circulated among cheese-music fans for the past 20 years on cassettes and CD-R. Now legitimately released, the thing that's most shocking about "The Ethel Merman Disco Album" is how similar it sounds to the pop disco of the time. Well, it sounds like the disco you'd hear in the lounge on The Love Boat, but Merman's voice, as singular as it was, was appropriately audacious for the style. It's still a terrible album, but after you get past the laugh of the title, it's not any worse than Starland Vocal Band.
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