This is without a doubt a must-have for Garland fans. Not since 1998’s “Judy” boxed set has any one release covered such a wide range of Judy’s career. And done so with such class.
The set is packaged in the “old style” sturdy double jewel case with a beautifully printed 28 page booklet in both French and English, with liner notes written by co-producer Lawrence Schulman.
The following are some highlights and favorites after a couple of initial listens:
[a complete track listing is at the end of this review]
The first disc covers Judy’s film and commercial recordings from her 1929 film shorts through her 1956 Capitol LP “Judy”. It’s a good mix, with a few surprise. Here are my favorites:
“Blue Butterfly” and (prophetically) “Hang On To A Rainbow” were both recorded in November/December of 1929 (no actual date is known). These are Judy Garland’s earliest film solos, and the earliest known recordings of Garland’s voice. She sounds like a typical little girl, yet powerful even at this tender age. The sound quality is very good, especially when considering that these are taken from the original Vitaphone discs (the actual film footage has yet to be discovered). It’s amazing these have survived for almost 80 years! Lucky for us Vitaphone used a disc method for their early sound film, so even though the film doesn’t survived, the audio does.
Next up is Judy’s first single for Decca Records, the 1936 “Stompin’ At The Savoy“. At the time, Garland was the youngest artist ever be signed to a recording contract. That previous fall of 1935 she had just signed her first contract with MGM Studios. This single was recorded in New York just two days past her 14th birthday while she was on an MGM promotional tour – even though she hadn’t made an MGM film yet. Bob Crosby & His Orchestra accompany Judy on this and the flip side “Swing, Mr. Charlie”. Judy was such a newcomer that Crosby declined credit on the record, not wanting to be associated with an unknown little girl singer! Just 7 years later Crosby & His Orchestra would appear (and accompany) the newly minted MGM star Garland in her 1943 film Presenting Lily Mars – with full screen credit of course!
All of the Decca recordings on this release are remastered from from original 78rpm discs. Due to this, they all have a sort-of “old record” sound that I found quite enjoyable. It gives the recordings a vintage quality, and I could hear a few vocal inflections in Judy’s voice that I don’t recall hearing in previous CD releases.
“I’m Just Wild About Harry” is taken from a very rare Brunswick 78 disc (#02969B). Judy recorded for Decca Records on July 29, 1939 but it was never released in the United States. It was only available in the U.K. on the Brunswick label in 1943, until 1984 when Decca Records included it on the wonderful LP “From The Decca Vaults”. The sound quality here has a bit of a loud “blast” to it, but it’s still enjoyable.
MGM Records tracks:
I thoroughly enjoyed all of the MGM soundtrack entries. The sound quality on all of these tracks is very good, with the original mono coming through crisp and clear. These differ from the “official” Rhino soundtracks released over the past 10 years in that they’re remastered directly from the original MGM Records 78s. MGM Records, due to the time constraints of the 78s of the day, presented abridged or altered versions of songs that in most cases differed from how were performed in the actual films. One could consider these to be the “singles” versions of the songs. If available, Rhino Records used the original pre-recording session masters – which also (in many cases) differed slightly from how the songs were performed in the film and also how they were presented on vinyl by MGM Records.
“Over The Rainbow” (The Wizard Of Oz – 1939): Sure, this has been reissued countless times over the years, but it’s still a favorite. And infinitely better than the Rhino Records version with that annoying volume increase on Judy’s second “someWHERE”. Why Rhino has never fixed this in the 10+ years since they first released their “restored” soundtrack is beyond me! As much as I enjoy Judy’s later renditions of this song (see second CD below), this will always be my all-time favorite.
“Who?” (Till The Clouds Roll By – 1946): Judy filmed this number while in the early stages of her pregnancy with Liza, and found it amusing to be running up to a plethora of chorus boys asking the question “Who?”. It’s one of the best numbers she ever committed to film. Again, it’s great to have a high quality version of this MGM Records “single”.
[NOTE: The 1946 album for Till The Clouds Roll By is the first official movie soundtrack album ever produced with songs taken “directly from the soundtrack” of the film. The idea of the newly formed MGM Records.]
“You Can Do No Wrong” (The Pirate – 1948): A great but underrated Cole Porter song. Judy’s rendition is, of course, perfection.
“Better Luck Next Time” (Easter Parade – 1948): Irving Berlin’s super-sad song effectively conveys the loss we’ve all felt at least once in our lives. This MGM Records version is, for my money, better than the expanded Rhino Records version.
“Get Happy” (Summer Stock – 1950): This was the last number Judy recorded and filmed for MGM. The fidelity on this remastering is the best to date that I’ve heard of its many appearances on CD.
1953 Columbia Records singles:
“Heartbroken“, “Go Home Joe”, “Send My Baby Back To Me“, “Without A Memory“
In 1953, Judy signed a contract with Columbia Records. Only the four singles included here and one LP (the soundtrack to 1954’s A Star Is Born) came from the short-lived association. Originally recorded on April 3, 1953 in mono, the singles didn’t make much of a splash when originally released. They had been reissued a few times on LP over the years, plus on one CD released by Sony in 1999 called “The Ladies Of Show Biz” and featuring these 4 tracks by Judy and several by Carol Channing (an interesting coupling if there ever was one).
As presented here, these tracks are the real jewels of this first disc. They were restored by the late Robert Parker in 2002. Per the liner notes, they were remastered into surround sound using “PRO LOGIC” decoding, from circa 1953 Columbia DJ vinyl 78’s that Parker had recently purchased. They sound AMAZING! The best I’ve ever heard these tracks sound. They’re not “true” stereo, but they sure sound that way. Very clear and robust.
I really enjoyed this second disc. All but one track (“Zing! Went the Strings of my Heart“) are new to CD, and most are very rare. All are radio performances. The sound quality varies due to the variety of sources. This is to be expected on any anthology of radio performances from the 1930’s through 50’s. In many cases the only surviving records we have of these vintage shows are old “air check” discs. In other cases, the discs have been transferred over the years to tape or CD-R which are the only records left. Remember, these old discs are brittle and were never meant to last forever anyway.
[NOTE: Some of these performances have been available on The Judy Room MP3 page, but they sound better here!]
I could just list all of the tracks, as I really enjoyed them all, but so far my favorites are:
“My Heart Is Taking Lessons” from “Good News of 1938” (April 21, 1938), a fun ditty that Judy does tongue-in-cheek as only she could.
“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” from a promotional record made by MGM for broadcast on the radio to promote the film Everybody Sing, 1938. Again, this sounds great – and Judy has obvious fun with the song.
[My hunch is that this is from the MGM pre-recording session October 24, 1937. It was standard for MGM to send out discs to radio stations containing “air trailers” that usually included songs – and sometimes outtakes – from the pre-recording sessions.]
“Daddy” from “The Chase And Sanborn Hour” (September 7, 1941), a very typical 1940’s swingy type of song that Judy puts over with ease.
“Over The Rainbow” from “Music For A Sunday Afternoon” (July 4, 1943)
This is a fantastic version of the timeless song, with a male chorus coming in to repeat part of the song before Judy comes back for the ending – very nice!
“Smiles” – this song, unfortunately, has been remastered at a slower speed. The producers of the set have told me that this was a mistake and that wrong remastered track was put in. Chalk it up to “human error”. Nothing is perfect and on a set this good, it’s easy to overlook one clunker.
THE FINAL ANALYSIS:
Again, a definite “must-have” for Judy fans, Judy fanatics, and the “Judy curious”. This set has something for everyone, and effectively presents the many facets of Judy’s voice. Everyone listening to this will enjoy hearing her go from child vaudevillian to superstar – an amazing progression from a once in a lifetime talent. And a wonderful anthology that celebrates Judy’s genius at her very best.
01 – BLUE BUTTERFLY* (Johnny Tucker/Joe Schuster) 1929 2’01
A Holiday in Storyland, First National-Vitaphone Pictures (1930). Court métrage Technicolor bichromatique, 1 bobine. Avec “The Three Kute [sic] Kiddies” au générique, dont Frances “Baby” Gumm, soliste, du trio The Gumm Sisters. Burbank, novembre 1929. – VITAPHONE 3824.
02 – HANG ON TO A RAINBOW* (Bud Green/Sammy Stept) 1929 1’08
The Wedding of Jack and Jill, First National-Vitaphone Pictures (1930). Court métrage Technicolor bichromatique, 1 bobine. Avec The Vitaphone Kiddies au générique, dont Frances “Baby” Gumm, soliste, du trio The Gumm Sisters. Burbank, novembre 1929. – VITAPHONE 3826.
03 – STOMPIN’ AT THE SAVOY (Andy Razaf/Edgar Sampson, Chick Webb, Benny Goodman) 1936 2’25
Bob Crosby and his Orchestra. New York, 12 juin 1936. – DECCA 848 A/Matrice 61165-A.
04 – OVER THE RAINBOW (E.Y. Harburg/Harold Arlen) 1938 2’13
The Wizard of Oz (Le Magicien d’Oz), MGM (1939). M-G-M Studio Orchestra. Herbert Stothart, chef d’orchestre, arrangement. Murray Cutter, orchestration. Culver City, 7 octobre 1938. – MGM E3464 ST (1956)/montage de prises 5 + 6.
05 – I’M JUST WILD ABOUT HARRY (Noble Sissle et Eubie Blake) 1939 2’02
Victor Young and his Orchestra. Victor Young, arrangement. Hollywood, 29 juillet 1939. BRUNSWICK 02969 B/Matrice DLA 1851-A/UK (1943).
06 – BUT NOT FOR ME (Ira Gershwin/George Gershwin) 1943 3’14
George Stoll and his Orchestra. Hollywood, 2 novembre 1943. – DECCA Album 362/DECCA 23309 A/Matrice L 3250-A.
07 – HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS (Hugh Martin et Ralph Blane) 1944 2’45
George Stoll and his Orchestra. Hollywood, 20 avril 1944. – DECCA Album 380/DECCA 23362 A/Matrice L 3387-A.
08 – ON THE ATCHISON, TOPEKA AND THE SANTA FE (Johnny Mercer/Harry Warren) 1945 3’14
Lennie Hayton, chef d’orchestre et de choeur. Conrad Salinger, orchestration. Kay Thompson Chorus. Hollywood, 10 septembre 1945. – DECCA Album 388/DECCA 23458 A/Matrice L 3958-A.
09 – WHO ? (Oscar Hammerstein II, Otto Harbach /Jerome Kern) 1945 2’49
Till the Clouds Roll By (La Pluie qui chante), MGM (1946). M-G-M Studio Orchestra and Chorus. Lennie Hayton, chef d’orchestre. Kay Thompson, arrangement vocal. Conrad Salinger, orchestration. Culver City, 9 octobre 1945. M-G-M K82 4/K30431-A/Matrice 46S3018/prise 3.
10 – YOU CAN DO NO WRONG (Cole Porter) 1947 3’03
The Pirate (Le Pirate), MGM (1948). M-G-M Studio Orchestra. Lennie Hayton, chef d’orchestre. Conrad Salinger, arrangement et orchestration. Culver City, 6 février 1947. – MGM 21/MGM 30098 B/Matrice 47S3431.
11 – I WISH I WERE IN LOVE AGAIN (Lorenz Hart/Richard Rogers) 1947 2’46
Eadie Griffith et Rack Godwin, accompagnement pianos. Hollywood, 15 novembre 1947. DECCA 24469 A/Matrice L 4565-A.
12 – BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME (Irving Berlin) 1948 3’02
Easter Parade (Parade de printemps), MGM (1948). M-G-M Studio Orchestra. Johnny Green, chef d’orchestre. Conrad Salinger et Roger Edens, arrangement. Conrad Salinger, orchestration. Culver City, 17 janvier 1948. MGM 40/MGM 30187-A/Matrice 49S3023.
13 – GET HAPPY (Ted Koehler/Harold Arlen) 1950 2’51
Summer Stock (La Jolie fermière), MGM (1950). M-G-M Studio Orchestra with male sextette. Johnny Green, chef d’orchestre. Saul Chaplin et Skip Martin, arrangement. Skip Martin, orchestration. Culver City, 15 mars 1950. MGM 56/MGM 30254 B/Matrice 50S3076/prise 12.
14 – SEND MY BABY BACK TO ME** (Jessie Mae Robinson) 1953 2’11
Paul Weston and his Orchestra. Hollywood, 3 avril 1953. Paul Weston, arrangement. COLUMBIA 40010/Matrice RHCO10464.
15 – HEARTBROKEN** (Fred Ebb et Phil Springer) 1953 2’41
Paul Weston and his Orchestra. Hollywood, 3 avril 1953. Paul Weston, arrangement. COLUMBIA 40023/Matrice RHCO10465.
16 – WITHOUT A MEMORY** (Bob Hilliard et Milton Delugg) 1953 2’48
Paul Weston and his Orchestra. Hollywood, 3 avril 1953. Paul Weston, arrangement. COLUMBIA 40010/Matrice RHCO10466.
17 – GO HOME, JOE** (Irving Gordon) 1953 3’03
Paul Weston and his Orchestra. Hollywood, 3 avril 1953. Paul Weston, arrangement. COLUMBIA 40023/Matrice RHCO10467.
18 – THE MAN THAT GOT AWAY (Ira Gershwin/Harold Arlen) 1953 3’39
A Star is Born (Une étoile est née), Warner Bros. (1954). Warner Bros. Studio Orchestra. Ray Heindorf, chef d’orchestre. Skip Martin et Ray Heindorf, arrangement et orchestration. Irving “Babe” Russin (ts), Buddy Cole (p), Hoyt Bohannon (tb), Nick Fatool, (dm). Hollywood, 4 septembre 1953. – COLUMBIA 40270/Matrice RHCO10931.
19 – JUDY AT THE PALACE (Roger Edens) 1955 6’16
Miss Show Business. 33 tours. Jack Cathcart, chef d’orchestre. Harold Mooney, arrangement. SHINE ON HARVEST MOON (Nora Bayes et Jack Norworth)/SOME OF THESE DAYS (Shelton Brooks)/MY MAN (Albert Willemetz, Jacques Charles/Maurice Yvain; paroles anglaises: Channing Pollock)/I DON’T CARE (Jean Lenox/Harry O. Sutton). Los Angeles, 29 août 1955. – CAPITOL W676/Matrice 14367.
20 – MEMORIES OF YOU (Andy Razaf/Eubie Blake) 1956 3’38
Judy. 33 tours. Nelson Riddle, chef d’orchestre, arrangement. Los Angeles, 26 mars 1956. CAPITOL T-734/Matrice 15273.
**Inédit sur CD en version intégrale/First release on CD in uncut form.
**Restauration Robert Parker (2002) inédite, DOLBY PRO LOGIC surround/Robert Parker remastering (2002) first release, DOLBY PRO LOGIC surround
01 – BROADWAY RHYTHM** (Arthur Freed/Nacio Herb Brown) 1935 3’55
Radio, 26 octobre 1935, The Shell Chateau Hour.
02 – ZING! WENT THE STRINGS OF MY HEART (James F. Hanley) 1935 3’34
Radio, 16 novembre 1935, The Shell Chateau Hour.
03 – ON REVIVAL DAY* (Andy Razaf) 1936 3’00
Radio, 6 août 1936, The Shell Chateau Hour.
04 – SMILES** (J. Will Callahan/Lee M. Roberts) 1937 2’50
Radio, 9 mars 1937, Jack Oakie’s College.
05 – MY HEART IS TAKING LESSONS* (Johnny Burke/Jimmy Monaco) 1938 2’15
Radio, 21 avril 1938, Good News of 1938.
06 – ON THE BUMPY ROAD TO LOVE* (Al Hoffman, Al Lewis, Murray Mencher) 1938 2’29
Radio, 20 octobre 1938, Good News of 1939.
07 – SWING LOW, SWEET CHARIOT* (Negro spiritual) 1938 1’50
Radio. Spot promotionel (extrait) pour le film Everybody Sing, MGM (1938).
08 – GOODY GOODBYE* (James Cavanaugh/Nat Simon) 1939 2’24
Radio, 7 novembre 1939, The Bob Hope Pepsodent Show.
09 – IN SPAIN THEY SAY “SI-SI”* (Ernesto Lecuona, Al Stillman, Francia Luban/Ernesto Lecuona) 1940 2’19
Radio, 9 avril 1940, The Bob Hope Pepsodent Show.
10 – LOVE’S NEW SWEET SONG* (Judy Garland/David Rose) 1941 1’12
Radio, 26 janvier 1941, Silver Theatre, épisode: Love’s New Sweet Song.
11 – THE THINGS I LOVE** (Harris et Barlow) 1941 2’25
Radio, 7 septembre 1941, The Chase and Sanborn Hour.
12 – DADDY** (Bob Troup) 1941 2’16
Même émission que The Things I Love.
13 – MINNIE FROM TRINIDAD* (Roger Edens) 1942 3’51
Radio, 18 juin 1942, Command Performance #18
14 – THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC* (Johnny Mercer/Harold Arlen) 1943 2’35
Radio, 4 juillet 1943, Music for a Sunday Afternoon. Andre Kostelanetz, chef d’orchestre.
15 – OVER THE RAINBOW* (E.Y. Harburg/Harold Arlen) 1943 4’14
Même émission que pour That Old Black Magic.
16 – EMBRACEABLE YOU/THE MAN I LOVE* (Ira Gershwin/George Gershwin) medley 1943 4’14
Radio, 28 août 1943, Command Performance #81.
17 – SOMEBODY LOVES ME* (B.G. De Sylva, Ballard Macdonald/George Gershwin) 1944 1’05
Radio, 11 juillet 1944, Everything for the Boys.
18 – SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME* (Ira Gershwin/George Gershwin) 1944 2’41
En direct, 8 octobre 1944 lors d’un dîner du Comité du Parti Démocrate de Hollywood, Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles. Johnny Green (p).
19 – LOVE* (Hugh Martin et Ralph Blane) 1945 3’25
Radio, 11 avril 1945, Mail Call Special #38.
20 – YOU AND I* (Meredith Wilson) 1951 1’27
Radio, 11 février 1951, The Big Show.
**Inédit sur CD/First release on CD.