In 1979 disco was at its peak—even if this particular group of baseball fans didn’t necessarily agree—and really, the only place for it to go was down. One canary in that coal mine was the release that year by A&M Records of The Ethel Merman Disco Album, a project that none other than the reflexively generous Allmusic.com has termed “absurd.”
Not that they’re wrong. Merman was 71 years old at the time of the album’s release; while her willingness to bend with the youth trends is ultimately admirable, it was always going to be an uneasy fit. Merman’s vocals and the background disco noodling scarcely interact, which makes this all the more interesting as a curio. There was a time when vinyl collectors became frantic to get a copy of this LP, but the Internet seems to have calmed that down—you can now get a copy on eBay for $20.
“There’s No Business Like Show Business”
“Everything’s Coming Up Roses”
“I Get a Kick Out of You”
“I Got Rhythm”
There’s more of the same on YouTube, which I’m sure you don’t need my help to find.
In this clip, Ethel shows Leslie Uggams and Imogene Coca (whom she calls “an idiot”) a thing or two about the true meaning of Christmas on A Special Sesame Street Christmas, from 1978:
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘Ethel Merman of the apocalypse’: Soviet composer Alfred Schnittke’s mind-blowing Faustian bargain