The Essential Judy Garland – Capitol CD review

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Let me start by saying that I LOVE this recent Capitol single CD release “The Essential Judy Garland”. The sound quality is great, and the song selection is good.

Essential JudyThat being said, I wish Capitol would just go ahead and release a COMPLETE boxed set of all of Judy’s Capitol recordings. As much as we fans enjoy these new compilations, I think I speak for a lot of fans when I say ENOUGH ALREADY! How many compilations do we need that have maybe one or two tracks that are “new” and the rest simply “newly restored” (again!). Best to go to iTunes and simply buy the songs you don’t have yet.

However, what distinguishes this CD from being “just another compilation” is that it includes a few really RARE tracks. Namely, “It Never Was You” and “Why Was I Born?”

“It Never Was You” is a previously unreleased outtake from Judy’s final film, 1963’s I Could Go On Singing. This take was recorded on May 9, 1962 but was not used, as it was decided to film Judy singing the song live, on set. This outtake is a revelation. Judy’s vocal is amazingly soft and beautiful. Putting to rest any complaints from people that she only sang overly emotional or show tune-y songs.

“Why Was I Born?” is an alternate take from the famous “London Sessions” of August 1960. This particular song being recording on August 3, 1960. This alternate version has some slightly different phrasing by Judy, and while it’s wonderful to hear, you can see (or rather, hear) why Capitol chose the take that would eventually be released. The release take is a more straightforward rendition of the song.

What the liner notes do not mention, but the sharp ear of a Garland collector might notice, is that “Happiness Is Just A Thing Called Joe” is an alternate take, and the first two lines of “By Myself” are different than the previously released versions. This makes one think that perhaps there are more unreleased “goodies” in the Capitol vaults? Don’t they know what they have?? Shouldn’t this have been mentioned in the liner notes?? I think so! It seems as though Judy’s Capitol catalog is still getting shoddy treatment.

Maybe when Capitol finally gets around to releasing a “complete” boxed set of all of Judy’s work for the label, they’ll do like MCA did with “The Complete Decca Years” and include a disc of alternate and previously unreleased material. Here’s wishing…

That pretty well sums up my thoughts about this new CD. Again, the sound quality is great. Which just whets the appetite for Capitol to get in those vaults and remaster all of Judy’s recordings. And it’s a nice selection of songs for a compilation.

Just one more thing: I wouldn’t call this “The ESSENTIAL” Judy Garland. I think they gave it that name to try and distinguish it from the other compilations out there. If you’re looking for the “ESSENTIAL” Garland Capitol recordings, it’s best to go on eBay and look for the 1992 3-CD boxed set “The One And Only”.

The track listing is as follows:

1. Life Is Just A Bowl of Cherries
2. I Happen To Like New York
3. Comes Once In A Lifetime
4. If I Love Again
5. The Far Away Part of Town
6. Zing! Went The Strings of My Heart
7. You Go To My Head
8. The Man That Got Away [live]
9. I Get The Blues When It Rains
10. Come Rain or Come Shine
11. Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home
12. It Never Was You [previously unreleased version]
13. Lucky Day
14. Happiness Is Just A Thing Called Joe
15. Hello Bluebird
16. By Myself
17. April Showers
18. Why Was I Born [alternate take; previously unreleased]
19. Rock-A-Bye Your Baby (With A Dixie Melody)
20. Over The Rainbow [live]


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