The Judy Garland Wars – Chapter Five – Scott Schechter, Part One
SCOTT SCHECHTER – PART ONE
The late Judy Garland/Liza Minnelli historian, author, and multi-media producer, Scott Schechter, was perhaps the most maligned of all the major players in Garfandom, even to this day. The incessant, unwarranted personal and professional attacks on him and his work went on for about fifteen years before he tragically died of a sudden heart attack in 2009. That didn’t stop the Garfreaks from continuing their attacks right after his death and up to this day.
In the late 1990s, there had been a kind of drawing of lines between what would become known as the Schechter Camp and the Fricke Camp. Author John Fricke was very prolific on The Judy List, as were his friends, the late author Steve Sanders, and to a lesser degree the late author Al DiOrio. All three were very early subscribers to the List. Scott wasn’t far behind, but he did not engage with the List as much as the other three. Scott’s fall from grace played out on The Judy List because the List was the main discussion forum online at the time. There were other discussion lists and boards, but because the The Judy List had the blessing of its three “grand hoohahs” (Fricke, Sanders, and DiOrio), it was the most popular with the Garfans and Garfreaks.
The presence of all four of these players, as well as many semi-famous collectors and armchair historians, made The Judy List a wealth of information. For the first time, fans could truly interact with each other, almost in real time, and get answers from the people directly involved in the product they were discussing and buying. Best of all, the List provided the chance for the experts (self-appointed and otherwise) to dispel a lot of the rumors and conjecture that had been swirling around the Garland legend for decades.
But there was also a dark side to its force. As with social media today, and especially with Garfandom, there was the drama. Lots and lots of drama. Some of it was silly, some of it was valid, but all of it was entertaining. When the List ended in 2002, the competition between the two camps continued on the various discussion groups, lists, and boards that popped up in its place. Some are still active, to varying degrees, but most been effectively replaced by social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, et al).
Scott began his rise to prominence in the mid-1990s with his “Garlands for Judy” magazine followed by his work as producer and historian on (eventually) many Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli media projects. He was a very energetic and passionate contributor to The Judy List and unlike the other three, he wisely stayed away from the ongoing drama, even when it was directed at him or his product. He really did take the high road.
In 1998 and 1999, two things happened that would cement his image as the black sheep of Garfandom’s major players and the target of endless criticism: 1) The release of “The Box” (a 1998 CD/VHS set); and 2) His attendance at Lorna Luft’s (Judy Garlands daughter) premiere weekend of her Judy Garland tribute show “Songs My Mother Taught Me.” The release of “The Box” was seen as direct competition to the Fricke Camp’s laurels and his attendance at Luft’s show was a debacle that’s described in detail in the next chapter.
I did not know Scott at this time. I also did not contribute to the List at all. I read the digests when I could, but I did not become a regular contributor until after these events. I didn’t meet Scott, nor have much interaction with him, until 2002 when he was in San Francisco promoting his new book “Judy Garland – The Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Legend.” From that day forward, he was always supportive of The Judy Room and all of my endeavors. He never wavered as a real friend. Sadly, I can’t say the same about most of the other “names” out there who only liked someone when they were getting something out of them.
NOTE: All quotes and transcripts from The Judy List have been copied verbatim from the List archives, as made available for download on The Judy List website for several years running prior to its demise. These archives include personal email addresses and full names. I have x’d out the email addresses and removed the last names, replacing them with just the first name only or the first name initial – excepting the names of celebrities, known authors, media producers, web masters, those with published works, etc.
Also note that “[snip]” means that a paragraph or section of a post has been removed as being irrelevant to the subject at hand.
For more about Judy Garland’s extensive discography,
check out The Judy Garland Online Discography
featuring more than 2,000 pages of information, photos,
details about Judy Garland’s records and CDs – and more!
On June 8, 1998, Scott excitedly broke the new to the List about the upcoming CD/VHS boxed set, simply titled “Judy.” This was his first work as a producer (in this case co-producer) and consultant on a major Garland multi-media release:
Subject: Some Great Garland News!
From: Scott Schechter <GARLANDS63@aol.com>
Date: Mon, 8 Jun 1998 17:48:54 -0400
I’ve got some very exciting news for all of us, that I’d like to share with you here. It was announced in today’s LIZ SMITH column: The rights to the entire TV Series (including audio, video, broadcast, etc) have AT LAST been sold, and the material is being kicked-off via a comprehensive 4-CD Box set and VHS Video, due to be released on Tuesday, October 13th. I am fortunate to be Co-Producer on the extensive project.
I’d like to take a moment to first say how sorry I am that I have not been able to share this great news with you earlier, during the nearly 6 months I’ve been involved. “The Powers That Be,” have wanted to keep things under wraps until the right time, and we decided to give Liz Smith the “exclusive” first “announcement.” (As you know, Liz has always been super-supportive of all things in the “Garland Family,” and it’s been a great pleasure to deal with her office over the last several years.) So, thanks for your understanding about that.
Now to what I can tell you about our plans. This initial project will include not only audio — and video — highlights from the TV Series, but also an audio OVERVIEW of Judy’s career.
I’d love to be able to mention exact tracks or song titles, but we are still in the process of deciding exactly what will be on the release. (I’m sure you agree that this could easily be FORTY discs, let alone FOUR, and STILL not even scratch the surface!) We are hoping to include as much material that has NEVER been released on CD (or even LP for that matter), wherever possible. Obviously it will be difficult to not have some material that has already been available, but we will try our best to have some things that perhaps even YOU don’t have (even on audio cassette! 🙂
There will also be a 60-page color booklet, which will include never-before published photos from MILTON GREENE’s archives, AND several essays on Judy, including a couple by legendary singers, who have agreed to talk about Judy’s impact on them, for this project. (I have contributed at least one essay myself, on why Judy affects me, and what she has given me, and taught me. Not an easy task, is it? I had initially composed this long list of Judy’s accomplishments, but was told that I must also write something “from the heart,” and something “VERY personal.” …. “Which is a terrible thought, you know” 🙂 ….. (I kept thinking “Why ME? I’m NOBODY! I mean, who CARES?!” … But I did as I was asked …. The response was quite overwhelmingly positive, however I don’t mind telling you that it feels a bit odd to have been so open about my life — and Judy’s impact on it — for “all the world” to read ….. “I’m rather worried” ….. Well, now I’ll TRULY be able to say : “Have you had enough, as the Republicans used to say? You know as much about me now as I do myself.” 🙂
I am working with some of the finest talents — and human beings — I’ve ever known, at 32 Records, who not only “get” Judy (obviously, or they wouldn’t be going through the GREAT DEAL of “time and expense” that they have “gone through” to bring you this material), but are extremely well-respected in the music industry. They include — perhaps supremely — producer JOEL DORN, who has worked with everyone from Bette Midler to Aretha Franklin, and who has won Grammy Awards in the process.
I hope that you will be pleased with the end results on this first release, and on all the future projects I’ll be involved in on the TV Series material (including hopefully even DVDs! …. We’re not sure about the Laser Disc format yet, however, as many in the industry seem to see it as “dying,” due to DVDs.)
In fact, I’d actually like to hear your suggestions for what material you’d love to have included, on this first set in particular, and especially for the career overview CDs (any rare, or unusual material that may not have been heard or heard OF?? …. and NO, I don’t mean the “imaginary” recording of Judy singing the score of “Mame!”) Please send those to me privately, labeled “SUGGESTIONS,” to my e-mail address : Garlands63@aol.com.
While I know there are a few people who don’t feel that the TV Series presents Judy at her best, I personally feel — as I always have — that it is the finest overall work of her entire career : Judy at her peak. Perhaps those people who have not been thrilled previously, WILL have their socks “knocked- off,” when they hear and see her from the original master materials. (I have been spending a lot of time listing to the original DAT masters of the Series, and the sound seems almost in Stereo, it’s so rich, deep, and clear : true High Fidelity here! …. There have also been a few things I’ve come across so far that I’ve never heard before, or even heard mentioned before, and I hope to be able to bring as much of this material to you as possible.)
Thanks for listening and for sharing in the excitement …. and for all the personal support always. Please send those “Suggestions” to me ASAP (as time is of the essence here; Please also forgive me in advance if I don’t have the time to respond now to all the mail, until after the project is completed and the CDs and videos are being manufactured.) (Obviously, for those who subscribe to my “Garlands For Judy” magazine, the June issue will be a JULY issue this year. I greatly appreciate your understanding.)
All Best and Warmest,
The news of the acquisition and possible upcoming release of Judy’s 1963/64 television series for the first time ever in home media format had everyone excited.
Subject: > Some Great Garland News!
From: “heidi” <XXX@hotmail.com>
Date: Tue, 09 Jun 1998 08:37:52 PDT
Scott, this is indeed wonderful news!!!!
Will we also have the opportunity to purchase the shows in complete format? I remeber when I was small seeing a couple on PBS and really enjoyed them. I would love to get/see the whole set. Thanks for your dedication which is making this possible. I think we will all agree that this has been a long time in coming. I thrill at the thought of getting a chance to view/hear new Judy material.
Subject: Exciting Garland News!
From: Ted <XXX@geocities.com>
Date: Tue, 09 Jun 1998 14:50:12 -0400
That’s great news! Yippee!! Mid-October, that means we only have to wait four months! I thought it would be years! I’d love to see a “Judy and Friends” [In 2005 the Savoy Jazz label would do just that] album — all the great duets she did on the show.
Just to inform everyone, this will be my first ever experience with Judy — the TV series. I’ve never seen it. In fact, all I’ve ever heard are the two Barbra Streisand duets! I can’t wait!
Subject: Re: Some Great Garland News!
Date: Tue, 9 Jun 1998 17:06:27 EDT
What exciting news!!!
Who purchased these rights? Will we be able to buy and/or see all the TV shows in their entirety as well as outtakes? Just the thought that someone else will own them and may have an outlet to show them…. It’s great !!!
I can’t wait until October for the first of what I hope is many different offerings. Thanks for the info, Scott. I know you;ll see that a good job is done.
By the way, what is the significance of the 13th of October?
Subject: Great Garland news? AWESOME news!!
From: XXX@facstaff.wisc.edu (Dave)
Date: Tue, 9 Jun 1998 22:37:38 -0500
Scott Schechter’s news about the TV series—the fact it may finally see the light of day—is THE best news I’ve heard yet in the 19 months this list has been in existence. When he says the TV series presents Judy at her peak, he is not kidding! Wow.
Some questions I have, though: 1) Scott, when you talk about broadcast/video rights to the TV series, does that mean you have access to Sid Luft’s ORIGINAL MASTER videotapes? We are not talking about any 16mm or 35mm film transfers here, are we?
For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, most of Judy’s TV shows have not been seen in their original video format for 20-plus years or more. They were transferred to film instead, and it is these film transfers that have been widely distributed (and trust me, they are vastly, VASTLY inferior to the original videotapes). For instance, the Barbra Streisand episode where Judy and Barbra are singing “Happy Days/Get Happy”—I have never seen that segment in its original videotape format. It’s always a film transfer. If Scott now has access to the original videotapes, that would be a really amazing piece of news right there.
Okay, question #2 for Scott: You said that you were co-producer of the entire project. Does this mean you are involved in the video release as well as the compact disc release? Reading between the lines, I got the impression that the main agenda right now is the 4-CD box set (the 60-page booklet, etc.) But I was wondering if there are any concrete plans as to what the video release is going to be like. (i.e., like how many tapes, any cable or network broadcasts on the agenda, any complete shows in their entirety—such as the 1-hour solo concerts?—or it is going to be all compilations?, etc. etc.)
As far as selecting mostly performances that have not been previously heard: Well actually, even a lot of the songs that HAVE been heard, they’ve been released in such haphazard versions in recent years—speeded up, slowed down, or overly-equalized and distorted and God-knows-what, or audio tracks taken from (sorry for harping on this) film transfers, which are far less “real” in sound quality—- I tell you what, if you put some songs on there that people might already have, but if you put them on there in their original speed, with full quality sound—that would not be a bad deal even if people have maybe heard the songs before! They won’t have ever heard them as they were meant to be, and that’s a big difference. Especially if you mixed them in with genuine rarities that have been hidden all these years.
(My favorite example of Judy’s music being distorted beyond all recognition is the fact that I know of at least two Judy Garland albums that contain “Sweet Little Alice Blue Gown” from the Christmas show—only it isn’t Judy singing it, for pete’s sake. It’s Liza!! (And the albums never indicate that, either).)
Another thing that crossed my mind, Scott: A few of Judy’s songs on the TV series—not very many, but a few—were actually pre-recorded and then she lip-synced them for broadcast. Does this mean you have access to these pre-recordings, or just the actual “show” videotapes? The reason I ask is because if you could get the pre-recordings, without audience applause and all that— they could be considered Judy’s only “studio” recording sessions during 1963 and early 1964— a rarity if there ever was one!
Finally—to end this with a somewhat non-Judy-related item: Lena Horne’s new CD, “Being Myself”, was released last week and, hey folks, it is awesome!! Horne is 80 years old now, going to be 81 this month incredibly enough, and she is still at the very top of her form. If you are a fan of modern-day bluesy/jazzy pop vocals at their best, you have to run—don’t walk—and snatch up this album. (Hint for finding it: most stores are carrying it in the jazz section, not the easy-listening or “vocals” section.) So what’s the Judy Garland connection here? (I figure there really should be one). Okay, well….on the album, Horne does a remake of “How Long Has this Been Going On”, which as we all know, was a big Garland hit at Carnegie Hall and also appeared on Judy’s 1960 “That’s Entertainment” album.
List owner and moderator stepped in and spoke for Scott:
Subject: Re: Great Garland news? AWESOME news!!
From: Mark <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998 18:04:40 -0400
In a message dated 6/9/98 11:37 PM, Dave Hill (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote:
>Some questions I have, though: 1) Scott, when you talk about
>broadcast/video rights to the TV series, does that mean you have >access to Sid Luft’s ORIGINAL MASTER videotapes? We are not
>talking about any 16mm or 35mm film transfers here, are we?
Knowing that Scott is very busy and may not answer prompts me to answer your question (even though I hate to answer a question specifically asked of someone else), although I’m sure he may elaborate.
Scott has told me that he will be working from the video remasters made from the original 2-inch videotape and the DAT remasters for audio. Great news, ain’t it? 🙂
Washington Blade writer and critic David Torresen provided the press release:
Subject: “Judy” boxed set
From: David Torresen <XXX@washblade.com>
Date: Tue, 07 Jul 1998 14:17:54 -0400
I just received a promo CD and press release for a 4-CD boxed set called JUDY due for release on October 13 by the “all-new” 32 Records. Here’s what’s in store (and I quote):
A 4-CD chronological profile to highlight Judy Garland’s legendary career on album, stage, radio, film and television. The comprehensive overview will begin with Judy performing at the age of seven as a member of The Gumm Sisters and follow the internationally-adored pop icon’s work through the end of fer life. Rarities and never before released Judy Garland tracks. “Live” concert performances of Judy singing many of her greatest hits. VHS video footage of highlights from Judy’s 1963-64 television program, “The Judy Garland Show,” most of which has not aired since its original CBS broadcast over three decades ago. Duets with Tony Bennett, Ethel Merman, Bobby Darin, Ray Bolger and more. 60-page book including liner notes/essays by Will Friedwald, noted Judy Garland historian/archivist Scott Schechter, Judy’s conductor/arranger Mort Lindsey and surprise interviews with major recording artists. Rare and never-before-seen photos from the collection of famed photographer Milton Greene. Produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Joel Dorn and Adam Dorn. Co-producer: Scott Schechter.
In stores October 13, 1998. 32 Records; 250 West 57th Street;
New York, NY 10107. (212) 265-0740.
Scott: Please tell me Peggy Lee is also among the featured duets!
For some odd reason, a member by the name of “Alfred” got bitchy. It wouldn’t be the only time:
Subject: Re: The JUDY List Digest – 07/17/98
Date: Sat, 18 Jul 1998 02:04:53 EDT
In a message dated 7/18/98 12:51:44 AM, you wrote:
<<Mark was nice enough to tell me I could mention the Carnegie
Tribute tapes again. >>
Are these for real, like the upcoming complete TV show video/CD package that hasn’t been mentioned again on these pages?
Scott provided more details, which really got everyone excited:
Subject: Information on the up-coming Box Set
Date: Tue, 8 Sep 1998 23:50:31 EDT
I thought you might enjoy the following information on the upcoming Box Set.
“JUDY” …. Released by 32 RECORDS on October 13th, 1998
4 CDs; VHS Video; 100-page Book
Produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Joel Dorn (Bette Midler’s first album, which included “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”; Robert Flack, including “Killing Me Softly”; and Aaron Neville), his son Adam Dorn; and Co-produced by Scott Schechter.
About THE COMPACT DISCS ******************************************
The music is presented chronologically, and spans the entire 40 years of “The Legend’s Legacy” (i.e : the material that still exists.) While every year of her career is not represented here, “JUDY” is the most comprehensive career overview on Garland ever released on CD, and was approached as an audio documentary of her voice and talent.
Discs One and Two are an overview of her life and career leading up to the historic TV Series. (Represented on these first CDs are early performances; radio broadcasts; as well as recordings made for Decca, MGM, and Capitol; Work in the studio is mixed with performances in front of audiences, including songs from the two most legendary concert halls she worked at : Carnegie Hall and the London Palladium.)
Discs Three and Four focus mainly on “The Judy Garland Show” (for which 32 Records now holds the exclusive audio and video rights.) The set closes with a look at how Judy was still able to reach for greatness at the end of her life. The majority of the tracks from the TV Series are solos; there are a few select highlights of Judy singing with other legends.
Among the talents who are also heard with Judy on “JUDY”: Harold Arlen; Wallace Beery; Tony Bennett; Ray Bolger; Bing Crosby; Bobby Darin; Roger Edens; Al Jolson; Gene Kelly; Peggy Lee; Oscar Levant; Liza Minnelli; among others.
All of the sound has been digitally remixed and remastered, from digital sources whenever possible. The best source-materials were always sought out and utilized, and you can be assured that even the songs you have heard before will have a new brightness and depth to them (This might be most apparent to you on the TV Series material For years, Garland fans have had to make due with either pirate copies or poorly executed “legitimate” releases that always used inferior sound materials as their source — including crackles and pops in transfers from LPs to CDs. For the the first time, “The Judy Garland Show” has utilized original DAT masters (Digital Audio Tape), and even improved them a step further. The result is incredibly rich, deep sound, that often seems almost like stereo, allowing Judy’s vocal prowess on the Series to be judged accurately for the first time.)
A total of TWENTY-EIGHT (28) songs are making their CD debut here; HALF of those have NEVER appeared on ANY audio release (INCLUDING LP.) There is also one song that has NEVER been heard by both the general public AND even most of the die-hard fans: a recently discovered OUTTAKE from a recording session in the 1950’s.
About THE VIDEO: ***************************************
The 32 minute VHS video presents some highlights from “The Judy Garland Show.” There are 9 songs here : eight solos and one duet.
Of these nine songs, FIVE are making their home video debut; none of them have been nationally broadcast on network television in 35 years, and ALL of them are here for the FIRST TIME since 1963-1964 in their original VIDEO TAPE format, as opposed to the kinescope or 16mm film print transfers that have been prevalent for the last three decades. (The only “film” elements here are two vintage TV commercials we included, that aired during the original broadcasts; one was obviously done as a “tribute” to Judy.)
The video was produced from the digitally remastered D2 videotapes.
About THE BOOK ****************************
The 100-PAGE book includes reflections on Judy by : Will Friedwald; ARETHA FRANKLIN; MORT LINDSEY; Camille Paglia; and Scott Schechter (who also wrote the background information on the songs found in the Track Listings section of the book.)
There are also many previously unpublished photos throughout the book, including several from the estate of the famed photographer MILTON GREENE.
“JUDY” will be available at Tower Records and other chains and outlets on October 13th; List price is $79.98; Available for a special price of $64.98 (plus shipping) direct from 32 RECORDS by calling : 1-800-771-9553 ..
Thanks for reading the info; More to come later.
Discussion about the set ranged from excitement about the contents to more discussions about the series footage. Some people wanted more video rather than just 32 minutes. “I was somehow expecting more TV series material than just 2 of the 4 discs” said one member, ignoring the fact that the theme of the set was to provide the first comprehensive overview of Judy’s entire career. That member continued with “I’d hate to think this 32 minutes is all we’re going to see.” Scott addressed all of the questions in a very detailed post, adding a quick post addressing Lorna’s involvement:
Subject: No Subject
Date: Mon, 14 Sep 1998 18:59:39 EDT
Now to the “JUDY” Box questions that came up.
Stephen, any retailer who has ordered the Box WILL have them ready for sale starting on Tuesday, October 13th, 1998. RYKO handles the distribution for 32 RECORDS, and as they are a pretty large distributor, there shouldn’t be a problem with finding “JUDY” in stores ON the 13th (especially at some of the bigger chains, like Tower Records, HMV, etc.) I don’t know if Tower and the other stores will be offering a discount off the suggested list price, however. I have also just been told that because 32 Records does not want to offend the retailers that sell their product, they can NOT offer the $15.00 discount to the general public. (I think this is understandable; they certainly do not want to be seen as being in “competition” with their stores.) However, I am starting talks with “32” about offering still offering something of a discount to JUDY LIST readers, through a link with Lorna’s Web Site that I manage, along with possibly some other key sites : I’ll keep you posted on that. I do understand that a price reduction may still not mean anything to those of us who hate to wait. (Who wants to wait for the mail? As Carrie Fisher wrote in “Postcards From The Edge” : “Instant gratification takes too long.”) The plan was NOT to mail out the Box UNTIL the 13th : However, Iam working with their shipping department to see if they can either send out the orders they have at LEAST a day earlier (on Monday, October 12th); AND also offer Overnight shipping, so that those who want to have “Judy” ON the13th, can. It seems this should work out; I’ll keep you posted.
Dave, I believe in just about all of the information that’s been released about “Judy” — either here or in Liz Smith, Newsweek, etc — it has been clear that the set would be a career “overview” that would “include highlights from Judy’s legendary TV Series.” (However, I think JUDY LIST readers are the only ones who know it’s “50/50”: Two CDs on her career, and two on the Series.)
And Dave, of COURSE 32 minutes of video is not ALL you are ever going to see on the Series. 32 Records would not have gone through the expense and the effort involved in buying all the broadcast /home video/and audio rights to the TV Series, JUST to release a 32 minute “bonus” video with the CDs.I’m grateful that they’ve hired me to work with them on all this material (which includes a vast amount of rare buried treasures), and I will share the plans for MORE Judy as soon as I possible can (although I’d say it’s a safe bet ALL avenues will be utilized, including broadcast and various video and audio medias; As I said, the company went through a great deal to acquire the shows : it would make sense for them to utilize every avenue in order to get the most out of the materials.) We’re still concentrating on the marketing of the Box, so it’s too soon to make any decisions about future projects. Stay tuned.
Thanks to all who have expressed the kind words of support. I hope that everyone WILL “support” this project by trying to buy a copy. I realize that the expense involved, at $79.98, does NOT make this an “every day” type of purchase, but more of a “Holidays” / “Birthday” / “Gift” type of item to keep in mind. As I said on my earlier posting, even the material we may already have (and I realize many of us have just about every NOTE our lady uttered) should at least SOUND BETTER than we’ve ever heard before (especially the TV Series songs.) And as I’ve ALWAYS said, if we
want to see MORE Judy released, we should support all of the releases that come from the companies that own more of her material. If we want to see MORE of the TV Series released, we must show 32 Records that they did not make a mistake in investing in this material ; That people WANT to see (and own) Judy’s TV Series.
I’m also thankful for a particular person’s show of support for “Judy”: Lorna Luft has graciously agreed to do publicity for us, and since most of you know how I feel about this singularly talented person, you can imagine how grateful I am that we have her vote of confidence in what we’re doing.
Subject: Lorna’s Publicity for “Judy” Box
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 17:44:37 EDT
Wanted to let everyone know about a few of the things Lorna will be doing to help us promote the “Judy” Box (everything is not completely set yet, naturally)
Among the TV shows will be “CBS This Morning” on Monday, October 12th; also Fox News, etc.
Lorna will also be at our in-store event at Tower Records, Lincoln Center, on Tuesday, October 13th, 6 PM.
By the way, I checked that Website that is selling “Judy” for $56.77 : They have the wrong LIST PRICE : they were $13 off the List Price, and I’m sure once they correct that, the price will go up. I don’t know that 32 RECORDS will be able to “beat” some of these prices (although one chain said they were going to sell it for $80.98 : a dollar ABOVE List Price) but they ARE willing to ship out orders early, on the 12th, if they are received by Friday, October 10th.
Also : we just got in the finished Box, and I’m very happy with the way it turned out. Both the sound and the packaging are incredible, and I counted 130 different photos in the 102 page full-color book. The sound and picture on the video is also remarkable. I’m still digesting it all myself, now that it’s been officially “born,” and I’ll let you know my further thoughts as they pop into my beezer (“BEEZER?!!!”)
All Best and Warmest,
Harris provided more info and a plea to members to support the release, correctly noting that sales of the set would impact the availability of future releases. Max Preeo provided an oddly testy post, followed by “Alfred” again in two posts in a row, with Harris stepping in to let “Alfred” know he was out of line. Scott also addressed the issue, in his only terse post about the set:
Subject: Re: The JUDY List Digest – 09/30/98
From: XXX@prodigy.com (MR MAX O PREEO)
Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 23:55:10, -0500
— [ From: Max O. Preeo * EMC.Ver #2.5.3 ] —
Subject: The “JUDY” Box
<<I wanted to thank Alfred for doing such a thorough job on the
track listings on the “JUDY” Box. A couple of things he did not
mention, however : On Disc Two : The “Swanee” outtake is
complete : from the start of the take, to the completion (Judy
makes a minor flub at the very start, and spends awhile roaring
with laughter, then becomes the complete professional, nailing it
on the next attempt after some joking with the control room.)>>
The outtake may be “complete” as far as this bit of tape is concerned, but just so listers don’t think they are going to get an *alternate take* of the *complete “Swanee”*, it should be noted that the 1:33 track begins with the line “Your wanderin’ child…,” then Judy breaks up laughing. After some studio chatter she picks up the ending lines again and continues through the final held note of the song.
<<And NOTHING was said about the BOOK : 102 COLOR pages,
and there are 130 different photos, many never before published,
including TEN photos from MILTON GREENE’s estate (of which
SEVEN have NEVER been published anywhere.)>>
But you posted that information previously. It seemed clear from Alfred’s posting that, because the question had been asked several times and was never answered, he was reporting what *songs* are on the CDs/video, *not* reviewing the set.
[Editor’s Note: Max…and others…I asked Scott to repost the rest of the information about the Box Set for those that may have missed it the first time. He *was* reluctant to do so. 🙂 –mlh ]
Subject: Promotion notion
Date: Fri, 2 Oct 1998 00:17:59 EDT
In a message dated 10/1/98 9:11:23 PM, you wrote:
<<That’s why it’s so important for *us* to show our support of their continuing Judy Garland efforts and BUY THE CD BOX SET (the first 90 days of its release will be most critical in sales analyses ->>
If this is the case, then keeping the debut of the box the secret it has been on this list, means that the secret is being kept from the larger-buying public out there. Imagine if an expensive movie (relative to the expensive price tag of this box) was being launched this way, with no advertising at all. Who would know to go see it? Who would have a chance to anticipate its release? Who would have a chance to create word of mouth on it? It would have been the smarter thing to have funelled some of the cost of production into some prominent promotion, the way the current rock and pop stars (who really don’t need it) are given.
Subject: More box stuff
Date: Fri, 2 Oct 1998 00:33:38 EDT
In a message dated 10/1/98 9:11:23 PM, you wrote:
<<[Editor’s Note: Max…and others…I asked Scott to repost the
rest of the information about the Box Set for those that may have
missed it the first time. He *was* reluctant to do so. 🙂 –mlh
Consider adding my reaction to this (which you can imagine) to my post about the elitist, secretive way (read Bad Business) this box is being brought out.
Subject: “Judy” Marketing….
From: Mark Harris <email@example.com>
Date: Fri, 2 Oct 1998 08:33:12 -0400
>Consider adding my reaction to this (which you can imagine)
>to my post about the elitist, secretive way (read Bad Business)
>this box is being brought out.
Elitist? Secretive? That’s strange….Scott’s given us an accounting of the latest status of this box set since it’s conception eight months ago, or so. When people would sling questions at him during this time about the progress, he would always answer (not always immediately, but he DOES have other business to occupy his time than The JUDY List) questions. As I search on the web for other Judy titles brought out this year, I’ve found that only the upcoming Rhino “Best Of” release has a listing of tracks PRE-release.
The way I understand it, Scott is a co-producer of this set, not an employee of 32 Records. He is not in a position to announce things that the company hasn’t yet made common knowledge. (Correct me if I’m wrong, Scott.)
Steve Sanders hasn’t told us what’s going on with casting in the movie project he’s working on. John Fricke didn’t tell us details of the content of the Biography until just two days before it aired.
Give it a rest, Alfred. I believe your personal antipathy towards Scott (and, indirectly Lorna, whom he champions) is coloring your attitude towards the marketing of this box set much more than any real resistance to the actual marketing campaign.
Subject: Comments about the Marketing of the “Judy” Box
Date: Fri, 2 Oct 1998 12:45:04 EDT
I’d like to thank Mark for his perfectly worded and dead-on assessment of Alfred’s comments about the marketing (or in Alfred’s mind, the LACK of marketing) of the “Judy” Box.
First, Mark did get my situation with 32 Records correct : I was hired as a Co-Producer of the Box : I am NOT an employee of 32 Records, and right again, Mark– I could only say what the label felt comfortable with being said at any given time, as things still needed to be cleared up legally, etc. (as I believe I said myself here, a while back, Alfred)
Even if I was an “outsider,” I would say 32 Records has done a great job ALREADY at getting a buzz out about the Box : Two major mentions in LIZ SMITH’s column ALONE is pretty spectacular in my book, especially when one of them is a RAVE REVIEW (Wednesday, September 23rd column : I must have missed Alfred’s reprinting of that review on the Judy List! 🙂 …. Add to that items in USA TODAY, Entertainment Weekly, AND NEWSWEEK Magazine (complete with a photo of Judy), and I’d say we’re doing pretty well.
Keep in mind the release date is still 11 days away, and there is lots of time to get people to the stores (we don’t want them there TODAY, do we, when there is no Box for them to buy?!)
Look for upcoming TV shots on “Entertainment Tonight”; “CBS This Morning” ; “VH1”; and many other shows I’ve heard mentioned (everything should be confirmed next week, and I’ll let you all know here.)
32 Records has hired one of the largest and most legendary PR firms in New York to handle the publicity for the Box, and the label has also planned a major print advertising campaign which will often feature large COLOR ads in magazines, etc.
Of course the real “jewel” in the marketing “crown,” is having the official blessing and support of Lorna Luft, who will be doing a major amount of publicity for us — as will Joel Dorn, the Producer, who has worked with Bette Midler, Aaron Neville, et al, and won several Grammy Awards. (I have been, and will be doing, some PR myself as well.)
As if all that is not enough (of course for me, personally, it’s all a step down from having LORNA on your team) 32 Records is setting up a new and seperate JUDY WEBSITE all about the Box and we will be doing major marketing on the internet, including of course all the key Judy Websites — including Mark’s JUDY LIST Site, of COURSE!
Does all this meet with your approval, Alfred? I hope so, although I’m sure you’ll let us ALL know about it HERE if it doesn’t. (And why do I feel that it WON’T?! 🙂 May I make a suggestion not only to Alfred, but to anyone else who feels a need to “bring a room down?” (as “The Sweeny Sisters” used to say on “Saturday Night Live” …. Anyone remember them always singing “The Trolley Song?” 🙂 — —
If you must attack someone personally, why not just send it DIRECTLY to the person you are attacking (since everyone’s e-mail address is listed) INSTEAD of using the JUDY LIST as a shield. Also, although I know many people enjoy seeing others attacked for NO REASON, I think most of the Judy Listers here would RATHER talk about JUDY than comment on people going at others throats (or joining in.)
So, please Alfred, if you’ve anything to say about me, PLEASE send it to me directly (Not that I’m promising to respond — or even to read it. …. God DID invent the “Delete” button for a REASON, after all.) Thank-You.
Also : for Karen’s posting about the low price offered on the Box at some of the Web Sites: I can assure you the sites that are showing these low prices on the set are wrong IF they show a List Price of LOWER than $79.98. (Some of the List Prices I have seen on these music sites have been $66.77! What a STRANGE List Price!)
If you order the JUDY Box direct from 32 RECORDS, you will be able to PRE- REGISTER for the PROBABLE up-coming JUDY VIDEO SERIES (we are still planning exactly what to do, but that is one of the things being considered) , AND (we’re still working on this) possible get a BONUS Video or CD —
Call 1-800-771-9553 for more details.
All Best and Warmest,
The set was released on October 13, 1998. There was radio silence from “the big three hoohahs” of the List: Fricke, Sanders, and DiOrio. This could be due to the fact that also in October 1998, Rhino Records released a single CD titled “Judy Garland – Her Greatest Hollywood Hits,” produced by George Feltenstein for Turner Entertainment/Warner Bros. Fricke and Feltenstein had a long association of working together on various video, laser disc and compact disc releases.
For a while, discussion about the set centered on joy with the contents and the desire for more series video. That’s understandable. The series hadn’t been seen, officially, for years. Many of the younger fans hadn’t seen any of it aside from what was on the various video compilations, and the wonderful 1983 PBS documentary “Judy Garland – The Concert Years” (which just happened to be one of Fricke’s very first official jobs as a Garland consultant). Discussions went back and forth about whether the series should be released exactly as it aired, with the added bonuses of commercials and outtakes, or edited to remove the non-Judy segments that might not appeal to the younger crowd, or in compilation format.
Subject: Re: The JUDY List Digest – 10/31/98
Date: Sun, 1 Nov 1998 00:17:07 EST
i really wish they would release the TV shows AS THEY WERE originally shown for all of us who didn’t get to see them first time around. with comercials and everything who cares it’s all historically important. my 1yr old eyes and ears in 63 didn’t even get a chance to see them since my mother was VERY BUTCH and she loved westerns so you know what they had on at my house some dumb show called Bonanza? so the powers that BE, please release them as IS. don’t screw around with them. just leave em alone and release them all. everyone and every second of out takes you can find too. i would definatly buy them all. but not if they are all cut up and edited. i hate COMPILATIONS but i LOVE COMPLETE SETS (obsessive compulsive) kenny
Subject: The Wailing Wall
From: SHJ – <XXX@delta.com>
Date: Sun, 01 Nov 1998 01:45:20 -0500
START RAMBLE (my train can’t stay on one track tonight – sorry!):
Scott – the box set is absolutely MARVELOUS. It is, from the outside of the box to the inside of the bottom of the video case a site to behold. The material that was selected is OUT of this world! I’m accepting the video as I think it was intended, a video SAMPLER, or a teaser of the great things that are on the horizon. As for me, I’ve been in a truly FOWL mood since my friend died (she was only 32 years old) – and I’ll tell you – my new ‘get-out-of-it’ when I’m bottoming, is that ‘Swanee’ cut. That cut alone was worth the price of the set. Life is too short – none of us are guarenteed ANYTHING – so, COME ON PEOPLE – laugh, listen, sing along and enjoy it and more than anything else, just be GLAD you have it! Whereas on the other hand ‘The Last Dance,’ as always makes me want to open a vein! The ONLY song I was sad not to see on the TV show discs was of course, ‘Carolina in the Morning’ for purely selfish reasons! 😉
Tony’s friend said it best for me when he wrote, “God, Why do people get so worked up about something that was meant to be good and pleasurable?” “……Let the music stand and quit “nattering” about every little “flaw.”” God, I already LOVE this man! I’ll leave the “Queens” comment alone for a minute…… I want to – but I won’t.
Just as every new Judy project hit’s the street, some’ll hate it and some’ll love it, just like Mark said. (Just WHERE did that man get all the wisdom he keeps spurting forth?? 😉 ) Also, I’m SO glad that Mr. Mark continues to give us this ‘Wailing Wall’ to talk about such things – but I do feel bad when we seem to take those personal turns – ok, the CAT fights (I have another name – but I don’t think Judy sang about that/those). To think of the time energy and money that went into such a project – and the best part, getting her name back out there like I haven’t seen in a LONG time can NOT be a bad thing!
I agree with David and Tony regarding the series material. Each and every show should be made available, either individually or as a set (OUTTAKES INCLUDED!) – THEN make compilations available for those other people that just want a taste. Judy’s interactions with these ‘less-than-stellar’ performers could in fact teach a few of the people on THIS list on how to play better with others. No matter their ‘Hollywood’ status, according to Steve Sanders BIBLE on the subject, she knew that their own performance would do nothing but help her show, and her – and treated them with the respect and the help that they needed and deserved. Above all else we’re here because we love the lady – so that alone should DEMAND a mutual respect from each other, whether we like each other or not. In essence we’re representing her (or at least her ‘fan-age’) for anyone that goes to Marks website and read any of the archived lists! I’d also like to mention, my ideal tape would be two shows per tape – in the DATE FILMED order – instead of the BROACAST order….. Then we can WATCH the seven different hair styles develop before our eyes!
END RAMBLE. —
Subject: the tv series on video
From: Alan <XXX@internetmci.com>
Date: Sun, 01 Nov 1998 10:29:01 -0500
I am very excited about 32 Records releasing Judy’s tv series. I think Scott’s idea to re-vamp the shows as they were originally taped is good, but I agree that they should be released the way they originally aired. This is the way they were presented to the original TV audience and I don’t feel 32 records should re-write history. I can’t wait to get the VIC DAMONE show when it’s available. Scott, what is the material that has been cut from this show? We’ve heard that there will be out-takes from show #24 included on the tape. Will they be inserted into the proper place in the show or will they be added to the end of the tape. In any case, it is VERY exciting. After collecting videos on Judy for 20 years its like a dream come true. Good job, scott.
Subject: Judy & The Recovery Process
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 1998 11:17:49 -0500
Hello Gang !!!
Just received the Judy Box Set …. and my absolute compliments to Scott and 32 Records for such a fine project!! Coming from a completely UN-technical background, I really don’t understand a lot of what others are say, technically, about the Set …. all I can say is that I LOVE IT !!
It could not have arrived at a better time …. the same day I came back from a 3-day stay in the hospital …. what a wonderful surprise and will definitely contribute to my recovery process!!
The Swanee outtake is absolutely wonderful ….. I can’t tell you how many times I have played that back and laughed …. Judy’s laugh has always been so infectious to me!!
The inside collage in the CD holders are fantastic …. what a well-done collection of Judy through the years!! I’m concentrating on the CD’s first ….. not a word about the video or book yet — but if the CD collection is a reflection of the others, I certainly won’t be disappointed!!
I had an idea about the Swanee outtake …. would it be possible for someone to compile a tape or CD’s worth of Judy outtakes such as Swanee ……. everyone seems to enjoy those light, spontaneous moments that Judy had (they work WONDERS for me) …. what a wonderful thing to have a compilation of the hilarious moments!! Just an idea.
Well, the pain killers are kicking in, so I’ll end before I start typing in Pig Latin or something weird. Again, my sincere compliments and THANKS for a beautiful product for ALL to enjoy … what a wonderful tribute to “Our Gal”!!
My Best to All,
There was a lack of discussion about the set for a while. The re-release of The Wizard of Oz in theaters, in a newly restored, and stereo, edition took up most of the discussions. Some theaters featured the special dye-transfer processed print of the film and others only had the non-dye-transfer version. The former was the one to see, with one list member relating how she drove over 100 miles to see it. As expected, talk about the “hanging Munchkin” and whether the film would or would not, or should or should not, have the deleted Scarecrow dance inserted, were topics again – among other Oz related topics.
Scott provided an answer to a member on November 14th, followed by Al DiOrio breaking his silence about the set to forward a People Magazine review.
Subject: Re: The JUDY List Digest – 11/14/98
Date: Sat, 14 Nov 1998 23:25:11 EST
Jeff E : To answer your questions on the “JUDY” Box
1) As far as PRICE, you’ll have to ask others here on the List about their “best buys” (just be careful that the websites have the correct List price of $79.98.) I’ve seen it for as high as $84.98 at Virgin. I believe if you go to 32 Records Website (www.32judy.com), you will see IF they are still offering the Box at a special price of $59.98 or not.
2) The “bonus” from ordering directly from 32 Records is that you will be able to buy both a Color “Judy” Poster, and the first complete Series Show (Episode #24 : Judy In Concert, with guest Vic Damone) at a reduced price ($14.98, versus a $19.98 “list” price) There are still NO PLANS — as of this moment — to offer the Series videos in stores. Things could change tomorrow, but the last time we talked about it, the label decided to ONLY offer Show #24 to those who have bought the Box DIRECTLY from 32 Records. (Show #24 — and the other episodes — will most likely wind up in stores, but not for “awhile,” last I heard.)
3) If you buy direct from 32 Records, you WILL indeed get to order the additional videos of all 26 Episodes, as we complete them.
All Best and Warmest,
Subject: People Magazine
Date: Sun, 15 Nov 1998 18:50:11 EST
The new issue of People Magazine, out this weekend (Kate Moss on the cover) includes a revue of the boxed set. Unfortunately, the reviewer (Ralph Novak) doesn’t seem like much of a fan. His review:
“Garland was nothing if not a colorful performer, and this four-CD set tracks her career from her days as the 7-year-old prodigy of the Gumm Sisters singing “Blue Butterfly” in 1929 to her final 1969 concert engagement in London. Garland never met a song she couldn’t upstage, and there are plenty of examples of that, most egregiously a bombastic 1963 version of “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Ironically her singing was more sensitive and subtle when she was younger, and her rendition of “You Made Me Love You” from the film Broadway Melody of 1938, provides an especially touching moment. She also seemed to devote special care to “Over the Rainbow”, as she did even in her last London concerts/ Still, the most musically satisfying track is a 1963 TV duet of “The Lonesome Road” with Bobby Darin, whose spirited spontaneity contrasted with Garland’s calculated histrionics.
“Also included is a half-hour video tape of highlights from Garland’s 1963-64 TV program. Among its treats: a duet with daughter Liza Minnelli, then 17. Bottom line: Revealing vocal portrait of an icon.”
Geez! As my aunt would say, “To each his own and a pound of provalone!” But to say this guy doesn’t get her strikes me as the understatement of the century. You know I’m an enormous fan of Bobby Darin’s, having written the only real biography of the man ever published, but to say that their duet is the highlight of the box . . . somebody’s out of their mind.
Battle hymn “egregiously bombastic”? Judy’s style “calculated histrionics”? It has been a long, long time since I’ve read a review of Judy’s work this absurd. I think Mr. Novak needs to hear from a bunch of us.
A few days later after Scott addressed some more questions, a partly negative review of the set was posted. That opened up the gates for people to begin complaining about the packaging and the contents. Scott, ever the optimist, always responded in a positive manner.
Subject: Box set review
From: Mike <XXX@foxstl.com>
Date: Thu, 19 Nov 1998 14:50:40 -0600
I am a freelance journalist and a regular reader of the list. This article about Judy was (finally) published in The Riverfront Times in St. Louis. If you don’t want to read it here, you can go to: http://www.rftstl.com. It is a two-page spread that features a picture of the box set and the classic shot of Judy in ASIB singing “Man…”
I know many of you will disagree with my assessments, but I hope that your responses are respectful. Thanks, Mike
Judy The Obscure
The underappreciated work of Judy Garland receives overdue attention with a new boxed set
BY MIKE ISAACSON
Three days after Frank Sinatra’s death, my car radio was still reporting profound national mourning.
Wanting to offer my respects, I went in search of the landmark Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely. Not knowing the Sinatra world too well, I wasn’t sure it was easily available. Walking into Webster Records, I was dumfounded. Robustly presented and precisely organized, there were multiple copies of everything: the Capitol recordings, the Dorsey Big Band years, the Reprise years, the radio broadcasts, selected videos, a few biographies, and on and on. In a marketing blitzkrieg, here lay a full, respectful and enticing portrait of Sinatra’s life and gifts. In short, a legacy to be tasted.
After I took all of this in, one thought came to mind: “Aw, shit. Poor Judy.”
Since her death in 1969, the control and expression of Judy Garland’s enormous body of work has remained as stormy, ill-kept and haphazard as the final years of her remarkable life. Although the argument is regularly made by writers and critics that Garland was indeed one of the century’s most gifted entertainers, and though reverence for her talent still approaches the religious among some, the backup to this argument, the proof (i.e., her work), has been so mismanaged and dispersed that it has been a hard argument to maintain. Consequently, among the vast array of historic American entertainers and artists, Garland is often dismissed. Quite sadly, she is frequently the victim of vicious camp portrayals of the final years of her life, when her mind and body finally succumbed to a lifelong dependence on drugs – sort of like if we only saw Elvis at his bloated, gun-shooting end. (Of course, Garland’s legacy isn’t helped by the fact that her daughter Liza Minnelli appears headed down the same awful path, but that’s a different article.)
That this late slice of Garland’s life should dominate the public impression of her is indeed tragic and mystifying, because it hardly represents her incredible accomplishments and body of work. Here, in the thinnest synopsis possible, are the facts of her career, adapted from the best survey book available, John Fricke’s Judy Garland: World’s Greatest Entertainer: Judy Garland worked 45 of her 47 years. She made 32 feature films, did voice-over work for two more and appeared in at least a half-dozen short subjects. She received a special Academy Award and was nominated for two others. She starred in 30 of her own television shows, garnering a total of 10 Emmy Award nominations, and appeared as a guest on nearly 30 more. Between 1951 and 1969, she gave more than 1,100 theater, nightclub and concert performances, winning a special Tony Award for the first of three record-breaking Broadway engagements at the Palace Theater. She recorded nearly 100 singles and more than a dozen albums. Judy at Carnegie Hall received an unprecedented five Grammys in 1962 (including Album of the Year), remaining at No. 1 for 13 weeks and staying on the charts for 94 weeks. Her radio work encompassed several hundred broadcasts, and she sang at countless benefits and personal appearances for the military.
There’s much more, but you get the idea. The woman was supremely talented, and the public clamored for that talent. Once established as a national treasure as Dorothy in MGM’s The Wizard of Oz, Judy Garland worked long and hard. The intense demand for her lasted through three decades (1930s-’60s), when popular tastes splintered, rocked and rolled, transformed mediums (film to TV; singles to LPs; big band to jazz to rock) and hurled many lesser talents onto the trash heap. The respect for Garland’s singing, acting and dancing among her peers has never been less than profound, and it is often argued that she is one of the top five greatest singers of popular songs in this century.
So last year, when word began to circulate of a planned four-CD set that would encompass her entire career and would include a book and videotape, hope began to spring that finally the legacy would be tended to properly. The task wouldn’t be easy. Because of continual mismanagement throughout her career, and as Hollywood media companies have gone through multiple buyouts and morphing, Garland’s work is strewn all over the place. For her singing, there are Decca (now MCA) recordings, Capitol recordings and dozens of European and independent label knockoffs and bootlegs. The radio work is mostly on obscure British labels. The films are on MGM (now Turner), Warner and Fox, and the television shows have been sliced up and tossed everywhere. Astounding concert performances are passed around on bootleg tapes. Of all of these entities, only Turner-Rhino, Capitol and Decca have made attempts to preserve and present Garland’s talent. The rest are all a form of exploitation, some quite sick.
So, with this background, great hopes awaited judy, produced by the Grammy-winning Joel Dorn and his son Adam Dorn, and recently released by New York independent label 32 Records (call 800-771-9553 to order). To its credit, the set bursts with affection and appreciation for Garland, and it will no doubt be a premier holiday gift. Yet comparing execution to intent, judy is another flawed and frustrating presentation of Garland’s work.
Once again, a significant opportunity is lost.
Of the four CDs, two are audio recordings taken from Garland’s 26-episode 1963-64 CBS television show. For years, songs from these shows have been showing up in drugstore bargain bins on cheapo label Laserlight, sold off piecemeal by Garland’s third husband, Sid Luft, perhaps the person most responsible for the gross mismanagement of her work and legacy. Sounding crappy and presented even crappier, these discs were often seen by the casual buyer and probably turned off a lot of people who thought to risk $5 and sample Garland. The chief accomplishment of judy is that somehow 32 Records acquired the rights to these television tapes, and they are for the first time cleaned up and presented in a respectable-sounding manner. This is a good thing, for, contrary to legend, Garland did great work for the series, and these shows now serve as the best representation of her ability to electrify live audiences.
The vigor of her talent was often there in the television show, and three specific cuts – her “Get Happy/Happy Days Are Here Again” duet with Barbra Streisand, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Old Man River” – rank as some of her best work.
Yet, in trying to capture the totality of Garland’s career and contribution, judy is often silly and misguided. The accompanying book is nearly worthless – a ridiculous interview with Aretha Franklin (huh?), an embarrassing essay by an idolatrous Garland fan, and a jazz critic’s feeble examination of her gifts. The book’s silly design, lack of historical record and faulty discussion of her work only reinforce Garland as a creepy cult figure. The videotape offers about 30 minutes’ worth of numbers from the television show, but it is spliced oddly and gives you no information such as show number, broadcast date or reason a song was selected. Many other video selections better present her talent. The packaging is sleek, and there are some rare photos, but the teardrop cover reinforces the “Judy as a tragic figure” lunacy, and the liner notes for specific songs are hysterically reverent, not objective and thoughtful. Particularly misbegotten are some of the selections on the first two CDs, which historically would cover the bulk of Garland’s career. Culling mostly from tapes of obscure radio broadcasts and concerts, mixed in with some legitimate licensing from Turner, Capitol and MCA, these two discs barely manage to capture the stormy power and excitement Garland offered at the peak of her career. Some of her all-time greatest songs are absent (“The Boy Next Door,” “Look for the Silver Lining,” “Singing in the Rain,” etc.), and the multiple uses of “Over the Rainbow” are ridiculous.
Perhaps there is simply too much, and objections are unrealistic. With a career so monumental, and with work in so many media, putting together the definitive survey set of the work of Judy Garland may be impossible. Maybe her artistry is destined to remain scattered bits and pieces, and, in such a context, judy is certainly a primary piece. But the only indisputable tragedy to be associated with Garland is that a performer whose work certainly ranks alongside Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald as having a legitimate artistic role in the 20th century is now almost oblivious. As Sinatra himself said of his favorite singer, “Judy will have a mystic survival: The rest of us will be forgotten – never Judy Garland.” Now seeking someone with a brain, a heart and some courage to prove Frank a prophet.
Apparently, the always-negative “Alfred” saw this as his cue to fling a little mud, even though by his own admission all he had experienced of the set was the cover art!
Subject: Mike’s Box-Set review (packaging)
Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 01:19:35 EST
I’ve yet to see the video or hear the disks, but I agree with the assesment that the design of the box (itself), so black and dreary, with the further dreariness of having the tear motiff (made worse by having a happy Judy inside) is a profoundly unflattering way to present Our Girl by people who love her and should Know Better.
And I go along with the comments regarding the design of the booklet, a cheezy attempt at an MTV look that comes off more like Hullabaloo. SO innapropiate for Judy Garland. My favorite graphic packaging for Judy, so far, is the beautifully realized Turner/Rhino Collector’s Gems from the MGM Films. From front to back cover through the booklet, so well layed out, it’s beautiful and glamorous and has tremendous presence. Which is just as Judy should be remembered.
Naturally, those posts put the set back in the spotlight:
Subject: Re: Isaacson In Right Church, Wrong Pew.
From: “Gary” <XX@psnw.com>
Date: Thu, 19 Nov 1998 22:23:42 -0600
Mike Isaacson’s article for “The Riverfront Times” was an example of journalism at its most confused. He begins with the premise that Judy’s work is unsung and obscure and then compares her to singers who were brilliant but save for Sinatra were almost entirely one dimensional.
While Mr. Isaacson makes some noteworthy points in his article about Judy’s haphazard treatment by releasing companies and the nefarious individuals who “managed” her career in later years, he is way off the mark regarding her legacy and place in show business history. Despite his indignation that Judy has failed to garner a proper place among his short list of luminaries, I have to ask, “Where the hell have you been these last thirty years since Judy left us?” Jarring comments such as “…the only indisputable tragedy to be associated with Garland is that a performer whose work certainly ranks alongside Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald as having a legitimate artistic role in the 20th century is now almost oblivious”, leaves one to conclude that he was either unconscious or not born to witness such high water marks as the many retrospectives of “The Wizard Of Oz”, the prominence of Judy’s work in the “That’s Entertainment” series, the re-release of “A Star Is Born”, a panaplea of books by insightful and well researched authors (Hi Al, John and Steve!!!), the PBS special and the A&E Biography, the tribute at Carnegie Hall last June, and on and on and on. Now we are poised to witness the long awaited reissue of “The Judy Garland Show” which I hope will put an end to the notion that Judy’s last decade of life was an embarrassment. Judy’s contribution to television has never been close to being equaled. If she did nothing else in her entire career except “The Judy Garland Show” she would still out rank the achievements of Elvis Presley and Ella Fitzgerald (both of whom I admire and enjoy but the comparison is basically one of catfish to caviar).
The author makes the admission that he was unfamiliar with the “world of Sinatra” early on in his piece and it is obvious that he is equally unacquainted with the world of Judy Garland save for what he was gleaned from hearsay and perhaps a few squabbles on “The Judy List”. I feel mean spirited pointing this out here since the tone of the article was one of incredulity that Judy had not received her proper place in history but the facts are that Judy is anything but obscure and probably will outlast every single celebrity of this century because of her timeless talent, likeability and genuine charm.
Subject: Re: The JUDY List Digest – 11/19/98
Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 07:54:36 EST
> The book’s silly design, lack of historical record and faulty
> discussion of her work only reinforce Garland as a creepy cult
Interesting point. The focus on Joel Dorn’s Jeopardy-like enthusiasm in proving that he knows more than Mort Lindsey (He actually says “Don’t sell me short, Mort!” and thinks anyone cares) and Scott’s coming-of-age-in-Judyism almost makes the devotion of fans a larger story than Judy’s work itself. I’ve noticed that unless I’m talking to like-minded devotees, people tend to be turned off by my obsessiveness with Judy but genuinely intrigued by discussion of her artistic merits. Maybe Scott and 32 Records could make future liner notes more dispassionate, more about the work, less (or nothing at all!) about the Dorns, and leave Scott’s 14 to 30-something years to his forthcoming memoirs . . . for which I volunteer to edit out ALL CAPITAL LETTERS FOR GOOD! (emoticon with wink and capital kiss to Scott: ;-X)
Subject: Re: Mike’s Box-Set review (packaging)
From: Ted <XXX@geocities.com>
Date: Sat, 21 Nov 1998 16:41:28 -0500
> I’ve yet to see the video or hear the disks, but I agree with the
> assesment that the design of the box (itself), so black and
> dreary, with the further dreariness of having the tear motiff
> (made worse by having a happy Judy inside) is a profoundly
> unflattering way to present Our Girl by people who love her and
> should Know Better.
I agree. Turner/Rhino are really the only major *compilations* that are Judy: Judy was glamorous, stylish, and very artistic. She was a dynamo. Yes she had an extremely tragic, and sad life. And I understand how some people believe that by playing up the tragedy aspect, the fact that she produced such incredible music/performances/etc. is even more astounding. But why can’t Judy have happy, fun, bouncy designs, like Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald get?
Subject: Re: Isaacson In Right Church, Wrong Pew.
From: Ted <XXX@geocities.com>
Date: Sat, 21 Nov 1998 16:51:28 -0500
> He begins with the premise
> that Judy’s work is unsung and obscure and then compares her to
> singers who were brilliant but save for Sinatra were almost
> entirely one dimensional.
I don’t think Ella Fitzgerald was one-dimension at all. Well, talking about her singing, anyway. Are you saying that other than Sinatra, all Elvis and Ella did was sing? As opposed to Judy and Sinatra, who also gave great screen performances? Then I guess I could agree with *that point*.
I do agree that the world at large ISN’T oblivious to Judy. Look at such public displays as the high interest in “The Wizard of Oz” (whether in the theaters or on television), her BIOGRAPHY episode and the new “judy” box (positive or negative, all the commentary says something about people knowing who she is). Plenty of my fellow students at school have heard of her (in fact, I’m giving one of my friends the new Rhino CD for Christmas).
One more thing…
> Judy…probably will outlast every single
> celebrity of this century because of her timeless talent,
> likeability and genuine charm.
I don’t think she’ll outlast them (in the sense that they disappear but she doesn’t), but she’ll certainly rank right beside them, and won’t disappear either!
P.S. Gary — these aren’t meant to be personal criticisms (I certainly don’t want to start another flame war). I was just disagreeing with certain points in your post, which was very well-written and well-thought-out. —
Subject: Re: The JUDY List Digest – 11/20/98
Date: Sat, 21 Nov 1998 20:07:55 EST
Mitch : I agree with much of your take on the book inside “Judy.” Especially as it comes to my essay. I had not originally been given any guidelines, so I wrote what I thought was a meaningful piece on Judy’s artistry and on her legacy : what she accomplished during her lifetime (all the “firsts” she achieved in the industry, the effect she had on other artists and on her audiences), what she left us, and why the world continues to be thrilled by her (and will be, till the end of time.) When I turned the piece in, the label raved, and I thought I was home free. Then they said : “but it’s not what we want.” I did try to argue that no one would want to read about me, or (frankly) care about my life, nor did I relish sharing personal information (such as my relationship with my father.) The box (and the book, or at least my piece in it) was supposed to be about her, not me, I argued time and again. Joel kept insisting he wanted something by me to show the effect Judy could have on someone’s life at a young age, and thus the piece was born, and it’s one that I think achieves that goal and has at least some humor and heart to it, from what many other fans and non-fans have said (including the NY Post, if you’ll recall.) (By the way, when I brought the first rough draft of this second piece into his office, Joel pronounced it perfect and refused to allow me to change anything, including the overdose of caps. He insisted it should stay the way it is, as he said it “sounds” like me, and shows the Schechter enthusiam, as I do tend to “punch” certain words when I talk …. or when I write, as everyone here knows all too well.)
As you also know, of course, Joel Dorn obviously had all the final says on “Judy.” It was his baby, his project, his record company. Most of those calls I agree with ; some I do not, which he is aware of. (For example, you know the Paglia piece would have been the first thing to go, if I had been in charge! ) We “debated” many times over the course of the 7-8 months we spent working together. Some of those debates I won ; most of them he won, which is as it should be. (See my second sentence in this paragraph.) If it were my record company, the final project would have been different, just as it would be if anyone else — including anyone on the List — were producing it, and I think that is what all of this “hoo-ha” on the List over this project really comes down to. (“You can please some of the people some of the time” & ” If you want something done right, do it yourself,” are two of the sayings that come to mind.) For the record (as I’ve said before here), I immensley enjoyed working with Joel and Adam Dorn. I’ve rarely known kinder, funnier, or more compassionate people in the industry (And they genuinely love Judy Garland, to boot.) During those months, I laughed and enjoyed myself much more than I yelled or argued (although cutting some of the songs from the final rundown did often feel like I was losing a finger each time it happened.) Joel, Adam, and everyone else at the label has become like family, and I’m so proud to be working with them to present and preserve even more of “The Legend’s Legacy” for the future.
I don’t believe I’ve much left to share here on this subject, except to say that as the final product stands, I am about 95% happy with the total package. Again, there are certainly things I would change about “Judy” if I could, but I do believe that the Box is at least somewhat better for my having been involved. (This next section should be read with tonque FIRMLY in cheek : Mitch, thanks for the generous offer of editing assistance on what you called my “forthcoming memoirs.” I don’t think the world is ready for it, dear friend, but I’m flattered at your suggestion. I’D MUCH rather read the next Lorna Luft book than one about me, and would be happier with both your vast talents and Pocket Book’s pockets directed towards making THAT idea a reality.)
By the way, a Happy Birthday wish today, to LL.
All Best and Warmest,
Subject: Mike’s box set review
From: Jens <XXX@csi.com>
Date: Sun, 22 Nov 1998 02:23:37 +0100
Gee, I’m glad finally someone had the courage to criticize the Judy box set.
To be honest I am very disappointed about it, too :
For instance: -the packaging and design (that tear!!!!!!!! Those LSD colors that hurt the eye!!!!!!!!!!)
-the length of the CD’s (with every CD running just over 40 minutes 3 CD’s would have been enough). Rhino put almost 80 minutes on the last Judy CD, so why can’t 32Records??????
-the cutting down of duets (there is more to the Darin-Garland duet than 2:14)
-the video, which leaves the viewer with a wrong impression about the show itself. I mean, why didn’t they choose one of the comedy songs (Smoke gets in your eyes, which is hilarious) and some of the chats with Judy and her guests?
-the sound quality (of the TV-Show tracks) which is not what I expect from “master tapes” even if they are more than 35 years old.
-the ridiculous list price of c.$70 and shipping fees (add. $35) to Europe by 32Records. I’m glad I got it much, much cheaper at CDnow (and they show the right list price, too!!!)
This box set is nothing but a teaser. For someone who hasn’t seen the shows in their entirety it might be a revelation. For those who know the shows this box is nothing more than any of Sid’s LP and CD projects with the same material – this time only without Sid’s name on it. Once again Judy’s fans have been ripped off like so many times before.
“Once again, a significant opportunity is lost.”
That really sums it up.
Thanks for reading,
Subject: Re: Mike’s Box-Set review (packaging)
From: Ted <XXX@geocities.com>
Date: Sun, 22 Nov 1998 16:34:49 -0500
<<I disagree, Ted. Judy did NOT have an “extremely tragic and sad
life”. Lorna and Liza both have stated this over and over. There
were PARTS of her life that were tragic, but on the whole she
seemed to have been a very happy woman. I think you’re
unintentionally validating the cliches by thinking this statement
is true. Judy’s RESPECTED biographers all have tried to point out
the woman’s “joi de vivre” (I don’t know a lick of French but that
LOOKS right) through their work….take THOSE books (and her
daughters’ reminisces) to heart and the Shipmans of the world with
a grain of salt.>>
Fine then, let me rephrase that. Judy did have, IMO, much more than her share of unhappiness in her life. And it started so early, with her having to be on the road with Ethel’s traumatizing behavior (the packing and pretending to leave bit), her Dad’s early death, the low self-esteem the studio gave her, the drug problems, five failed marriages, the abortion. It just seems like Judy had way too much unahppiness in her life, especially when she gave so much happiness to the world. I hope I’ve articulated what I’m thinking in my head. 🙂
John Fricke finally broke his silence on the subject to respond to Scott’s recent post in typical Fricke-speak:
Subject: Re: Boxed In
Date: Sun, 22 Nov 1998 19:07:36 EST
It’s fine to hear that Joel and Adam Dorn are kind, funny, compassionate, and “genuinely love” Judy Garland. However, in the case of the box set, none of those qualities add up to the knowledge, taste, musical discretion, or sensitivity necessary to provide her with the showcase she deserves and could/should have.
From: “christopher” <XXX@btinternet.com>
Date: Mon, 23 Nov 1998 08:28:25 -0000
There are so many ways of presenting Judy’s work to the public – those who have been at the top of the Judy merchandise business for so long have done wonderful things in keeping Judy’s memory alive. But I do think that the “Judy” CD /video box is a valued contribution to that process too. I for one love what Scott and friends have done with “Judy”. The graphics are fuss-free and easy to read, the tributes seem appropriate and the quality of sound reproduction is especially clean on the earlier recordings. I am hopeful that the interest generated by “Judy” will pave the way for more people to experience the amazing work that Judy did within her 63/4 TV series.
Subject: WARNING: You aren’t going to like this….
From: Mark Harris <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, 25 Nov 1998 20:24:09 -0500
Here’s a review I found online from this week’s “Boston Phoenix”. It’s a review of the 32 box set and a paragraph about the new Rhino release. The bad part is, it’s less a review of the box set and more a replay of the old, tired-out melodrams that seems to judge Judy’s (not THAT Judge Judy’s) talent as filtered through what was PERCEIVED as her pitiful personal life and traumas. It doesn’t really promote or denigrate the box set, but clearly shows the reviewer doesn’t “get” Judy’s concert persona.
There’s no e-mail address for the reviewer given, but there is an address to send feedback if you want: email@example.com
Judy, Judy, Judy
All the things Garland was
by Steve Vineberg
When you watch the ebullient, chubby-faced teen Judy Garland in musicals like Pigskin Parade and the 1938 Broadway Melody and, of course, The Wizard of Oz, or in her storybook ingenue roles in the ’40s, it seems almost impossible that she’d end up as the fervently over-the-top belter of the ’50s and ’60s. That shocking transition is chronicled in the new box Judy (32 Records): four CDs accompanied by a half-hour video of excerpts from her TV show, which aired in 1963-’64. No wider-ranging sampling has ever been taken of Garland’s career. The first disc begins with the tunes she sang at seven, as half of the Gumm Sisters vaudeville act, in a pair of 1929 Warner Brothers shorts; the final disc concludes with her rendition of “Over the Rainbow” in a London concert appearance less than six months before her death in 1969, at 47.
The Gumm Sisters sides are really just curios for serious Garland collectors — the girls sound like baby copies of the Brox Sisters and other popular close-harmony female groups of the era. But this first (and best) disc offers a dozen wonderful recordings of Garland between 1935 and 1947 — her golden period. The voice you hear on “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart” is already so full-throated and controlled that the hint of baby talk in some phrases keeps catching you off guard. The number begins as a ballad and then swings, halfway through, into a junior-miss version of a boogie-woogie; its subject isn’t really romance (Garland was 13) but the joy of singing.
You’ll find most of the songs you might expect on this disc: “Stompin’ at the Savoy” (her first single); “Over the Rainbow”; “For Me and My Gal,” with Gene Kelly; “The Trolley Song,” from Meet Me in St. Louis. And the justly famous dramatization of an adolescent crush (from the 1938 Broadway Melody), “(Dear Mr. Gable) You Made Me Love You,” with its sudden, startling leap from little-kid awe to a declaration of emotional commitment belted out in the last verse (“I don’t care what happens/Let the whole world stop”). But there are also items you haven’t heard before, from ’40s radio shows: “All the Things You Are,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and a lovely rendition of Gershwin’s “Liza,” which is dedicated to her eight-month-old daughter.
Judy was assembled by diehards, so it weighs more heavily on her concert years than on her career as MGM’s leading musical-comedy heroine. I don’t share the general enthusiasm for the Garland of A Star Is Born (1954) and beyond, bleary-faced and desperate for audience approval, one hand clutching a mike for dear life, the other curled against her hip, come-hither style. The accepted wisdom about the later Garland tracks is that as her voice deteriorated under the strain of chemical addiction and psychic distress, as she quavered more and more on held notes and garbled more and more final consonants, her feelings came through more nakedly than ever before — and there’s no denying that’s true. But the spectacle of a woman coming apart at the seams isn’t,
perhaps, for everyone.
Disc two offers a number of pleasures: “Get Happy,” from the underrated Summer Stock; Harold Arlen’s great torch song “The Man That Got Away,” from A Star Is Born (the earliest and least troubling of her diva recordings); “How About Me” and “Me and My Shadow.” But the neurotic underlayer in her singing gains the upper hand for good around 1960 — in this collection, that happens on “Who Cares” — and never loses its hold.
The last two discs are dedicated to The Judy Garland Show, which is legendary among her fans, but on most of these tracks she sounds pretty bad. (And, as the video clips attest, she looks worse.) The odd tune is sweetly modest (“When Your Lover Has Gone,” on the video) or genuinely affecting (“Cottage for Sale”), but she shoots for too many boffo refrains, and it’s painful to hear her rip through songs she once glided through, like “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe.” She shouldn’t have attempted “Shenandoah,” and her wet-eyed version of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” is embarrassing. (It’s even more jarring on the video, where her trademark gestures, designed to hug the audience to her, are weirdly at odds with the lyric.) And her duets with guests like Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett, Barbra Streisand, and daughter Liza Minnelli always feel forced, competitive.
If you have the same difficulty with the psychodramatic side of Garland as I do, you may find another new CD, Judy Garland in Hollywood (Turner Classic Movies), a tonic. It offers two dozen performances from Garland’s movies, beginning with “The Texas Tornado,” from the 1936 Pigskin Parade, and ending with three numbers from 1963’s I Could Go On Singing. There’s little overlap with the Judy box, and you may have forgotten she ever sang some of these songs, like “F.D.R. Jones” (from Babes on Broadway), Jerome Kern’s “Look for the Silver Lining” (Till the Clouds Roll By), Rodgers & Hart’s “Johnny One Note” (Words and Music), Arlen’s gorgeous heartache of a song “Last Night When We Were Young” (In the Good Old Summertime), the “Friendly Star” duet with Gene Kelly (Summer Stock). When she performs “Happy Harvest,” the joyous Judy Garland of the “Stompin’ at the Savoy” days seems to return in grown-up form. That’s how I prefer to remember her.
Focus quickly shifted from the set to that Boston Phoenix review:
Subject: Re: WARNING: You aren’t going to like this….
Date: Wed, 25 Nov 1998 23:12:29 EST
Mark, That review reads like it came from the keyboard of a deaf man.
Subject: The idiotic review
From: Katja <XXX@yahoo.com>
Date: Thu, 26 Nov 1998 00:25:04 -0800 (PST)
Oh, boy were you right Mark when you said we won`t like what that Vineberg guy has to say. I certainly didn`t! Never have I heard such idiotic things said about the tv-series. Not only was I shocked to read that he thought Judy sounded bad but that he also thought that she LOOKED bad. I`ve always thought Judy was incredibly beautiful in most of the series episodes. Unfortunately, (or perhaps fortunately, for him) I don`t have time to give Vineberg a piece of my mind, but I certainly hope some of you do. Now I think I`ll try to calm myself down by listening to Judy`s BEAUTIFUL version of “Shenandoah”.
Subject: “Judy Judy Judy”
From: Mark Harris <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, 26 Nov 1998 16:30:05 -0500
(Also sent to the feedback address given)
To Whomever Reads The “Feedback” at the Boston Phoenix:
Although I can understand the absolute ridiculousness of getting a “Garland diehard” to write a review about the 32 Records box set entitled “Judy”, couldn’t you have at least gotten someone that could’ve reviewed THE WORK instead of Judy Garland herself?
The article seems to me to be nothing more than a personal opinion about the woman; NOT a review of the box set. Instead of nattering on about Judy’s “coming apart at the seams” (which seems to be the popular slant on her life by those who don’t “get” her), why couldn’t we have had more of a review about the material presented?
Above all, I would really love to hear why Mr. Vineberg seems so charmed with the young Judy’s obvious joy and emotion, yet seemingly abhors those very same traits when the older, more mature Garland expresses them. Judy Garland was ALWAYS looking for audience approval, not just after A Star Is Born. So what? The same could be said for just about anyone that becomes a public entertainer.
I also find it difficult to give any credence to a review so full of factual errors. Judy was “one half” of the Gumm Sisters??? Virginia, Suzanne, and Frances adds up to 3. Which HALF was she? “The accepted wisdom about the later Garland tracks is that as her voice deteriorated under the strain of chemical addiction and psychic distress…”??? What? The ACCEPTED wisdom about Judy’s voice deteriorating is that it happened after 1964, when her voice was quite probably physically damaged during an unfortunate incident in Hong Kong. But there’s very little of her work after that period represented here.
Most of the box set is taken from her CBS television series – during which the ACCEPTED wisdom tells us was her very best vocal period (1960-1964), as evidenced by her enormous popularity the in the years immediately following her triumphant and award winning Carnegie Hall appearance in 1961 – the pinnacle year for her vocal quality. To say there was a “neurotic underlayer” in her voice during this period is really a personal opinion much more than the fact it seems to be presented as. You don’t think CBS put Judy on the air because her “glory years” were behind her, do you Mr. Vineberg?
I hope future reviews of Judy Garland material (and more *IS* on the way) will be presented by a reviewer with a bit less of an axe to grind and more of an eye for talent, or at least ATTENTION to the material he/she is supposed to be reviewing. After all, I don’t want to read a recap of the Thanksgiving Day NFL game written by the society editor.
The JUDY List Manager & Webmaster
Subject: the “Judy” box set (and reviews thereof)
Date: Fri, 27 Nov 1998 01:10:45 -0500 (EST)
Wow, that review of the “Judy” box set really was negative, wasn’t it? Yow. I’m usually pretty good at being an objective critic of Judy’s work when I want to be— meaning, not looking at her from the viewpoint of Garland-fanatic but trying to see her work in the same way that any “newbie” might be, maybe someone who has never heard of her. Sometimes, I can sort of understand why the bigger-than-life Garland persona might turn somebody off (usually when that happens, it’s more the material she’s singing rather than she herself). But not in this case. To me, the amazingly high quality of her television work is so obvious and clear-to-see, that it really hits me sideways when somebody doesn’t see it. But some people just don’t, and that’s the way it always has been. No use in getting upset about it.
One of my cousins, who is maybe sixty-ish (and who likes ALL kinds of music), feels pretty much the same way about Judy Garland as that reviewer did: in other words, the feeling that Garland was great when she was young, but when she got older….you get the idea. In my cousin’s words, “I like ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and nobody ever sang a song like she did when she sang ‘Over the Rainbow’. But when she got older, she got whiny.” Although I sort of know what he means by “whiny”, I wouldn’t call it that, and I also have to really disagree with that assessment. Judy did some of her best and most wide-ranging work in the 1960s, particularly in the TV series, which gave her a chance to do all kinds of different songs she never sang before. They almost all sounded great, too.
I also don’t feel she was “coming apart at the seams”, like that one reviewer said. She was just intense, that’s all—- but I personally think that intensity was kind of cool. It let us know the real person inside, and that’s why she sounds so timeless—she wasn’t some particular era in music, but more like a real live person that was “open” enough to let us catch a glimpse of the soul inside.
Well anyway, let’s forget about the few unpleasant reviews—like others have said, some people just don’t “get” her. They don’t know what they’re missin’, but they are entitled to their opinions, I guess.
Subject: 32 Records Box Set
Date: Fri, 27 Nov 1998 09:43:18 EST
I have been reading postings on the Judylist about the 32 Records box, and it seems only recently have certain items shared my opinion that this release is a major disappointment, and just short of an abomination.
It is obvious that a great deal of time and money went into creating this collection. Joel Dorn may be well respected in the record industry, but certainly not for having anything to do with Judy or artists within her oeuvre. Having the opportunity to license tracks from Decca and Capitol to be mixed in with recordings from the TV series should have provided what could have been “the ultimate CD set”. The results are unfortunately quite different. It is obvious that the Dorns were not really familiar with Judy’s body of work, and the real disappointment here is that they did not work with people like John Fricke and/or Steve Sanders who are truly expert in their work, and have been responsible for exceptional audio productions and fine literature concerning Judy.
Instead, they seemed to have been advised by amateur fans. Nothing wrong with being a non-pro and/or a fan, but this does not make one a record producer. The choice of tracks for something like this is going to always be subjective, but obvious jewels from these catalogs were overlooked, mediocre tracks (in comparison to the greats, Judy hardly did anything mediocre) fell in their place, and many tracks had less-than-optimum sound quality. The lack of audio quality control seems to have stemmed from an urge to “rush the damn thing out” rather than do it right.
I agree with many folks who have decried the dark, sad packaging. It is anathema to the essence of the work of this incredible performer. The essays inside run from ridiculous to downright embarassing. They play in to all the stereotypes of “Judy’s tragic life” or the world of Judy-obsessed gnomes who really are caught in the cult of things rather than celebrating her incomparable artistry.
I’m very sorry I spent $80 on this misfire. I can’t see myself playing it very much again.
Scott kept his feelings to himself. He didn’t respond to any of the negative or positive posts. Instead, he alerted the List to a new DVD:
Subject: a new DVD
Date: Fri, 27 Nov 1998 20:32:00 EST
Just wanted to let everyone know quickly, of a new DVD that should be hitting stores next week. “Frank Sinatra – Portrait Of A Legend” contains both “The Man And His Music” (a compilation of trailers and stills mainly), and the 1962 Special (the Colorized version.) The quality is outstanding on the ’62 Special (no pixilazation or any other digital artifacts), and everything is sharp and clear (you can even see the wires holding up the metal frames on the set, during Sinatra’s number early in the show.) (Of course you can also see problems like bleedthrough on the colorized transfer, especially during “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.” However, this is not the DVD — its on the videotape as well.) LaserLight is releasing the disc, so it should sell for $14.99 or less.
Subject: Re: 32 Records Box Set
Date: Sat, 28 Nov 1998 00:13:25 EST
DD, You not playing the box set is your loss not the loss of most of us. I wonder if you really know anything about Judy when you post such an opinion. But you are welcome to your opinion.
Subject: THE JUDY LIST???
Date: Sat, 28 Nov 1998 18:34:21 EST
Fellow JUDY FANS,
I’ve become VERY disillusioned with THE JUDY LIST the past few months. It seems any JUDY project that doesn’t include the names of either Mr Fricke or Mr Sanders is torn to pieces and literally dragged over the coals. While these two gentlemen know a great deal about JUDY they certainly aren’t The “be all” or “end all” to me,. I just don’t get why they are put on thrones like two Queens ruling the legacy of JUDY GARLAND. Frankly, the most prized possessions in my vast collection don’t carry either name.
I’m certain if either of their names were associated with THE BOX that it would be proclaimed one of the greatest treasures one could own on JUDY. HOWEVER since their names are no where to be found I think the harsh criticism is deplorable and certainly unjustified. I belong to a MARILYN MONROE LIST. Whenever any new item comes out on MARILYN everyone on the list is thrilled that there is something new to ad to their collection. It may be a book of photos and if their is one new photo that has not been seen before the fellow members are THRILLED!!! No one ever says I’ve seen all but two of the 669 photos in the book and it’s a rip off. No, the fans write in and are just so pleased and excited that there is something new to ad to their collection. WHY CAN’T WE BE LIKE THAT??!!!
Does anyone know how to spell JEALOUSY…I think it’s spelled “S-O-U-R G-R-A-P-E-S!!! Perhaps the name of this list should be changed to the “JOHN AND STEVE LIST”!!!
Subject: Re: THE JUDY LIST???
From: Mark Harris <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, 28 Nov 1998 20:10:09 -0500
>Fellow JUDY FANS,
>I’ve become VERY disillusioned with THE JUDY LIST the past few months.
I would hope you would be more disillusioned with The JUDY List if people DIDN’T speak their opinions! It seems that the majority here on the List agree with what your opinion seems to be….that the 32 box set was a wonderful addition to their Judy collection. Of course, there are going to be some people who disagree. In this instance, they are certainly in the minority. Don’t let yourself get so upset when something you disagree with is expressed. It takes all different kinds of opinions to make an interesting conversation, wouldn’t you say? I mean, we wouldn’t have HALF the fun we have here if everything posted was “I agree”, would we?
I see what you’re saying and there *is* a grain of truth in what you say. Truthful it may be, it still might discourage others from voicing their opinions, whatever they may be, for fear of being slammed for doing so. Let’s comment on the subject of our mutual interest – all things Judy – and keep opinions about opinions about all things Judy to e-mail, shall we? Thanks! 🙂
The JUDY List Manager & Webmaster
As you might imagine, “DD’s” comment about “amateur fans” elicited some passionate posts. But it was the late Al DiOrio who brought some clarity to the discussion.
Subject: Charlie, Charlie, Charlie
Date: Sat, 28 Nov 1998 23:31:09 EST
Sorry that recent postings on the list about Judy! have offended you so. I doubt if anyone intended to offend anyone. And I’m afraid that my recent post about the four most worthwhile Judy tributes having all come from John Fricke may have triggered this reaction from you.
But the fact is that this list if an ongoing discussion of Judy. Her work, her memory, her life and the continued marketing of her legacy. My preference for some of the work Mr. Fricke is simply based on the fact that the projects listed impressed me by their integrity of presentation, obvious respect fo r Judy’s work and overall success in moving me. And yes, to me, these are qualities that I usually find in John’s work. All of us have fields of expertise . . . or specific careers, etc. And all of us develop reputation s based on that work. We either earn respect through these endeavors or we don’t. John, and for that matter, Steve Sanders have earned the respect of many.
But that hasn’t anything to do with Scott who is a good friend and a nice guy and should be proud of the success of this, his first job in record producing. He’s someone whose opinion I often seek and who I know loves Judy as much as anyone of us. Although I did offer certain criticisms of the boxed set I certainly did not hold Scott responsible for them (and, he agreed with some of them). I don’t know what he could have done differently and what he was stuck with. I don’t know what Judy! would have been like with either John or Steve (or, if you’ll excuse my vanity, myself97a/k/a the other Judy author) involved but I do fear that had the Korn’s handled this by themself without at leas t the participation of Scott representing Judy, we’d have a lot more to comp lain about. Yes, choices and decisions were made with which many disagreed – but it seems many were totally satisfied and that is an accomplishment. Perhaps, based on the reaction to this box, when it comes time for the next project Scott and the Korns work on, they will do somethings differently. Perhaps not.
I know that there are some people on the list who take offense when any one individual (or even a group of individuals) are referred to as Judy experts. So let’s stay away from that term. But I am a “Judy author” for lack of a better term. I am the author of two books on the subject of Judy Garland. As a matter of fact, my own Little Girl Lost was one of the first biographies ever written/published about Judy Garland – certainly the first written by a fan. And yet I continue to call on John and Steve for facts or opiniions about my work, etc. Each of them has seen portions of It’s All For You, as has Scott. All of them have offered praise but eqach of them has also offered criticism or correction or through convincing conversation, given me a whole new view of somethng they may have disagreed with. And all of these contributiions were welcomed, appreciated, and valued. I didn’t always agree and in those area s I went ahead with my own instinct.
As far as I’m concerned we’re all in this together. I value these gentleman’s friendship
In that same digest, Fricke posted his second (and final) post related to the subject of the set. Evidently “DD” was someone important:
Subject: Re: The JUDY List Digest – 11/28/98
Date: Sat, 28 Nov 1998 23:45:37 EST
In a message dated 98-11-28 21:01:47 EST, Ron Badge writes about “David
<< I wonder if you really know anything about Judy when you
post such an opinion. >>
Actually, DD knows more about Judy than most everyone on the List
(as Lina Lamont would say it) “put togither” 🙂
(And no — DD is not Steve Sanders, Al DiOrio, and/or me 🙂
Discussions descended into the usual topics of whose work is better than others, who is or is not the keeper of Judy’s flame. Nothing new, and nothing that wouldn’t be discussed over and over again on the List and future post-List forums, and now social media.
Subject: Re: The JUDY List Digest – 11/28/98
From: David Torresen <XXX@washblade.com>
Date: Sun, 29 Nov 1998 18:28:52 -0500
At 09:00 PM 11/28/98 -0500, Charlie wrote:
Does anyone know how to spell JEALOUSY…I think it’s spelled
“S-O-U-R G-R-A-P-E-S!!! Perhaps the name of this list should be
changed to the “JOHN AND STEVE LIST”!!!
I have completely refrained from adding my thoughts about the boxed set for a number of reasons — as have others here, I’m sure. For those of you who adore it, I’m glad. I don’t care for it much at all, but I’ve refrained from what some might interpret as “sour grapes” primarily because my own criticisms have already been very well articulated, weeks ago by Max Preeo, recently and eloquently by Mike Isaacson, and also by some others in the “minority.”
I *will* say this about the supposed “two Queens ruling the legacy of Judy Garland”:
I don’t genuflect in John’s and Steve’s direction. It’s simply that John’s and Steve’s writings on Judy are *consistently* thorough, detailed, factual, even-tempered and — most importantly — professional. If either of them released *any* sort of product that I found sub-par, I wouldn’t hesitate to criticize it. And I suspect neither of them would be particularly devastated by my criticisms, especially if they were expressed clearly and calmly.
I also think it’s a little sad that 1998 brought us no John Fricke liner notes. I hope I’ll have *much* more to read from him in 1999.
Loving-Lee – The Peggy Lee Fan Page
Subject: Re: The JUDY List Digest – 11/28/98
From: Mark Harris <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sun, 29 Nov 1998 20:59:00 -0500
In a message dated 11/29/98 6:28 PM, David Torresen (XXX@washblade.com)
<<If either of them released *any* sort of product that I found
sub-par, I wouldn’t hesitate to criticize it. And I suspect
neither of them would be particularly devastated by my criticisms,
especially if they were expressed clearly and calmly.>>
And of course, this was proven by anyone that was “here” when the A&E Biography came out. John was personally held responsible for every comment and quip made by each interviewee, for the music that accompanied the show, etc.
I think we tend to take new Judy projects extremely seriously and
How does anyone’s OPINION become FACT anyway? It seems that people are castigated if they DO like the 32 Records box set or if they DON’T like the 32 Records box set….why must we “grade” each other on our OPINIONS? Why must someone feel that because certain people have and express an opinion that makes them a “ruling queen of all that is Judy Garland”????
Do any of you folks understand how PETTY and STUPID such statements make Judy Garland fans seem?
Do any of you CARE?
I doubt it.
Harris then posted, in the same digest, his frustrations and let everyone know that he wasn’t going to moderate the posts anymore:
Subject: Have at it…
From: Mark Harris <email@example.com>
Date: Sun, 29 Nov 1998 23:26:26 -0500
I give up. It seems that no matter how much I try to keep the conversation on The JUDY List in the realm of civility, there are those who insist on lowering the standard to their own level of communication. By trying to apply the “niceness filters” evenly, I only succeed in pissing some off because they feel something is unfair or unjustly applied. Sometimes I even wish MYSELF that some people could be talked to exactly as they deserve, so at least until the point where enough people either exit (thus, killing all topical conversation) or it gets nasty enough that folks start to censure the combatants in the inevitable rows that will result, it’s “open season”. Be as nasty as you want to be if that’s what makes you happy.
I just can’t keep concerning myself with forcing gentility and refinement on some people who don’t know the meaning of the words. Now I won’t have to bother. Go ahead….knock each other senseless. After you kill The JUDY List, perhaps someone else will take a stab at playing referree to a bunch of jealous old queens (that’s pretty specific…those that don’t fall under that description are rarely part of the problem, come to think of it).
Just remember one thing….there are plenty of PROFESSIONAL people here that hate to see such rudeness connected to Judy Garland. Like it or not, your behavior *is* reflecting on her when it comes to the way new found fans perceive you “old guard” that have to act so petty, self-serving and childish sometimes. Is that what you WANT?
The JUDY List Manager & Webmaster
Through it all, Scott continued to stay out of things by focusing on updates, although he did include a quick plea for civility:
Subject: Lorna on QVC
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 19:53:09 EST
I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving that was fulfilling both emotionally, and in the tummy area.
Just to quickly let anyone who might want to know, Lorna will be on QVC for the “Judy” Box, this coming Friday, December 4th, between 11 AM and 12 Noon. (There also may be some other radio and TV appearances set up for while she’s here, depending on how long her schedule will allow her to stay in the NY area.) (She has some things lined-up shortly after, the following week in LA — including a taping of “The Howie Mandell Show.”)
Also on Friday, “Entertainment Weekly” magazine will publish their review of the “Judy” Box. (They appear to have done their homework, as I had to answer some questions for them last week.)
All Best and Warmest,
Subject: Bay Area Review of “Judy”
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 20:42:10 EST
Finally got a copy of this review / article, and I think it may possibly answer some of the questions / criticisms about “Judy.”
Bay Area Reporter — November 5th, 1998
“Judy” retrospective Box set
by John F. Karr
Were she alive, Judy Garland would have been 76 years old this year. It’s been 60 years since she was making “The Wizard Of Oz,” and nearly 30 years since her death. While Garland’s incredible talent keeps her alive and present for many of her fans, a new generation of Judy-lovers is being courted with the release from 32 Records of “Judy,” a new box set of music, video, and words in her honor.
The first thing you’ll want to know is what’s in this overview of the star’s career. The set includes a splendidly illustrated and not infrequently informative 100-page book of essays, photographs, and detailed notes on the recordings. The 4-CDs of recordings contain the following : CD 1 covers Judy’s emergence from childhood to adult stardom with recordings from her MGM films and the simultaneously made Decca discs. CD 2 documents Judy’s post- Hollywood years as a concert star and hit-maker for Capitol Records. And discs 3 and 4 are devoted to Judy’s last major creative effort, her CBS television show of 1963-64. Of these 32 songs, half are making their digital debut, and half are songs she never otherwise recorded. Finally, there is a 32-minute video of clips from the show itself, adding Judy’s visual impact as the set’s final stamp.
The set gets off to a smashing start with four recordings of Judy solo and in harmony with her sisters, in the only known documentation of her vaudeville years. These are the earliest known solo recordings of Judy Garland, and come from the soundtracks of early film shorts that she made in 1929. They were recorded “live,” and have been as skillfully re mastered as possible. On them, at the age of seven, Judy is off-key, tinny, and hard-edged, not sounding at all like the Judy we know, except that she’s loud. The big revelation comes a minute later, when the 13-year old girl who launches lustily into “Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart” is the full-blown Judy we know. The contrast between the cuts is breathtaking; it made me drop my jaw, and listen to the subsequent three hours of recordings in total Judy-awe. This lead-in alone may be worth the entire price of the set.
At a full price of $79.98, that cost may be a bit steep. The majority of these recordings have been previously available, after all, and although “Judy” is garnished with some obscure and delicious items, a mid-line price would have made the set more approchable. Still, on it’s own terms, the set unquestionably accomplishes its maker’s aims.
THE VISION THING
Producer Joel Dorn, who “discovered” Bette Midler and Roberta Flack and produced their first albums, along with those of a zillion other stars, told me about his vision for the set in a telephone interview last week.
“We bought the Judy Garland televison shows from a broker who bought them from Sid Luft, her ex-husband,” Dorn said. Two side-notes here are that while the broker paid $90,000, Dorn paid three million for the shows, making Luft so furious that a New York Supreme Court judge had to forbid him from continuing to represent himself as their owner; and yes, Dorn’s company plans to market them soon. “When the shows came our way,” he continued, “we decided to buy, because we’re not talking about a bench-warmer here : it’s Judy Garland.”
“And I had noticed that there wasn’t an overview of her entire career. So I thought we could present the music from her TV show as an anchor for the project, and then go back and show Judy from the beginning, and watch the flower open.”
When I criticized the short timings of the set’s CDs, which each top out at not much over half of what a CD can hold, Dorn defended the set’s exclusivity.
“We weren’t trying to do somthing mammoth for the sake of completion,” he explained. “That wasn’t the story we were trying to tell. I wanted to have, in one place, examples of it all.”
So with what appears to be a stingy precison but is actually a tonic from gluttony, the set accomplishes its aim of depicting in one collection, Judy at each stage of her career. The exacting selection includes only eight songs from six MGM movies, only one song (and one outtake) from “A Star Is Born,” eight songs from six Capitol studio albums, and, amazingly, only two cuts from one of the most famous and fabulous records of all time, the Carnegie Hall concert of 1961. Balancing these are the rarities – those amazing (and brief) vaudevillian early film tracks, a half-dozen radio appearances, the “Star Is Born” outtake, one London televison appearance, and just about Judy’s last live performance of “Over The Rainbow,” along with the series soundtracks. And though it’s true that, at 32 minutes, the accompanying video is hors d’oeuvre, remember that the full meal is promised.
Those wanting a grasp of the complete Judy Garland saga will find it in this set, told only in the best recordings, succinctly yet knowledgeably chosen.
As Judy said, I think we should “all just calm down.” (I won’t even go into her New Year’s “gentle” speech, although that would be appropriate.) This is not a cure for cancer or for AIDS. It’s a box set we’re talking about here and even I am getting a little bored with all the “hoo-ha” (i.e. Hoopla) (in this case both con AND pro.)
I’d also like to wish a Happy Birthday today to John Fricke!
All Best and Warmest,
One person, a wise older man who had provided the List with wonderful memories of his time knowing Judy was, aside from a quick mention from Al DiOrio, the only person who pointed out that this was Scott’s rookie effort. Usually rookies are afforded some leeway, but not in Garfandom at the hands of the Garfreaks.
From: “Michael” <XXX@yahoo.com>
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 20:09:56 -0800 (PST)
Hello again friends on the JudyList,
I was quite upset after reading the JudyList of the 27th. However the list of the 29th (or30th, I could be off on the date) made me feel somewhat better.
My compliments to DD who after having written a (IMHO) scathing diatribe, with personal overtones for having the decency to further explain his observations in his posting. It takes a “big” person to re-evaluate a postition and to go to the trouble of clarifying it for those affected.
There is still one point however that sticks in my craw. I truly think it unkind to have referred to “amateur fans” as being responsible for the failure (in his opinion) of the box set. As far as I am concerned there were no amature anythings working on this project. Although it is my understanding that this was Scott’s first project of its kind, he acquitted himself beautifully as a professional possessing wonderful taste in his selections and over all involvement. It is my opinion that if the “big shots” had followed his suggestions more closely, they would have had an even superior product to the already excellent box set. Kudos Scotty!!!
I also wish to support Mark with his decision to “let it all hang out” on the list as far as the negative postings are concerned. I too have been disturbed by the tone the list too often has been taking. My postings on that subject have appeared before. It is my hope that the outcome of Mark’s decision will be a better and more honestly civil list we can all participate in proudly. Perhaps if the ugliness some people espouce is allowed to be seen by all of us, we will be able to send a loud and clear message to the authors of those kinds of postings to “clean up their acts.” All of us who enjoy participating in the JudyList and find value in the exchanging of opinions and ideas in a civil and respectful manner should continue to do what we have been doing all along. Let those who harbour and try to spread negativity be the ones to leave.
I heartily support differing opinions and ideas. Personally, I have learned a great deal from many of the members on the list. Having had the enormous privilege of being able to call Ms. G “friend”, the nuggets of information and the wonderful insights I continue to acquire here mean so much to me that it is hard to state my appreciation and thanks. Hopefully this wonderful forum of “all things Judy” will continue to flourish for many years to come.
Love to all of you,
“The Box” continued to get press in the major press outlets, as shared by various list members:
Subject: Judy Box Set/USA Today
Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1998 10:04:30 EST
If you didn’t see the Weekend edition of USA Today(11/27), there is a complete section on box sets for the holidays. The Judy Box Set is on the front page next to Bruce Springsteen and Hank Williams with a review inside. Under “Classical and Show” here is the text:
“Even the best connected Garland fans are likely to have only 50% of these recordings from her vaudeville days, the 1940s radio broadcasts and 1963 TV series. Remasterings are state of the art and the TV video footage is crystal clear. It’s full of selections she sang only once–but unforgettably–and with collaborators she never again sang with, such as Barbra Streisand and Tony Bennett.”
Short and sweet, but the mere fact that Judy’s name and box set were featured prominently on the front page of a section of USA Today is a good thing any way you look at it.
Thought you’d like to know,
P.S. Time for Christmas decorations….my OZ Christmas tree is going up soon!
Subject: Judy on radio/Entertainment Weekly
Date: Tue, 8 Dec 1998 01:59:18 EST
Also, the latest Entertainment Weekly has a review of the box set.
It gets a B+. Here’s the text:
“Unlike chart-savvy teen singers of today, young Judy Garland sounded like a soulful grown-up who had lived her songs several times over. This four-disc box, more chronological portrait than definitive collection, starts with 7-year-old vaudevillian Frances Gumm (unpoetically billed as “the girl with the leather lungs”) preternaturally singing those lungs out, and concludes just months before her drug-overdose death at 47. The first two discs are mostly highlights from her early recordings and films (though, frustratingly, they leave out such classics as “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” while including multiple versions of other tunes). Discs 3 and 4 are almost entirely culled from Garland’s short-lived 1963-64 variety show, complete iwth nifty duets with Tony Bennett and Barbra Streisand. There’s also plenty of her signature, emotionally fraught belting on songs like “Old Man River.” But the surprise is the quiet jazz ballads (“How About Me,” “A Cottage for Two”) where she is as subtly, poignantly transcendant as that teen in Oz. In the end, Judy wins you over, then breaks your heart. When she sings “Birds fly over the rainbow, why oh why can’t I?” on the final, ragged-voice track, she expresses both defiant hope and a desperate plea.”
The review was written by Beth Johnson.
It’s nice to see Judy getting press in different publications.
Subject: Re: The JUDY List Digest – 12/09/98
Date: Thu, 10 Dec 1998 17:01:00 EST
Thought you’d like to read the review Billboard gave “Judy In a
BILLBOARD Review of “Judy” ; Reviewed for week ending 12/12/98, as the single pick for the week in the separate VITAL REISSUE Box
JUDY GARLAND / “Judy”
Producers: Joel Dorn, Adam Dorn
32 Records 29002
Although there have been Judy Garland retrospectives on various labels in the past several years, none has gone as deep as this one has in representing the breadth of the late diva’s multifaceted career. The box consists of four CDs with songs arranged in chronological order, a half hour video of Garland’s TV appearances, and a 102-page booklet loaded with anecdotes, photos, and testimonials from critics, musicians, and admirers – including Aretha Franklin. Atlantic Records alumnus Joel Dorn and his son, who operate the New York-based 32 Records, acquired audio and video rights to “The Judy Garland Show” material, which constitutes discs three and four, plus parts of the video. Elsewhere, the multimedia set includes Garland’s first known recording (“Blue Butterfly”), her MGM film classics (including, of course, “Over The Rainbow” from “The Wizard Of Oz”), two tracks from the landmark “Judy At Carnegie Hall” live album, and a host of other treasures. The book features photos from the Milton Greene archives; essays by Will Friedwald, Camille Paglia, and Scott Schechter; and an interview with longtime Garland associate Mort Lindsay by Joel Dorn. A wonderful tribute to an American legend.
(c)1998 Billboard and BPI Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
Subject: AN INTERESTING ARTICLE
From: “Marketti, Frank” <XXX@amilink.com>
Date: Thu, 17 Dec 1998 09:46:34 -0500
THOUGHT PEOPLE WOULD BE INTERESTED IN THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE. CHEERS TO SCOTT!!!!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO EVERYONE!!!!
From the Tower Records December PULSE Magazine :
“GARLANDS FOR JUDY”
Other Boxes May Be Bigger, But Only “Judy” Has Camille Paglia And Aretha Franklin
By A.D. Amorosi
While holiday consumers wrestle with Bruce Springsteen’s mammoth box, another set of fanfares and frayed nerves curiosities looms large : the 32 label’s 4 CD / video boxed set “Judy.” Dedicated to the entirety of the original diva’s 40-year career – from age 7 as a Gumm Sister, through her enormously successful child’s career at MGM, infamous concert hall performances at London’s Palladium and NYC’s Carnegie Hall, to her final Juno label recordings in 1969 – the set makes the case for the theatrically vivid songstress one of the greatest, most passionate singers of the 20th century ; a fact lost within a history of divorce, personal problems and
“The reason that Judy’s so special, unique and beloved is because she gave so completely of her soul,” says “Judy” co-producer Scott Schechter. “She was sharing all that she felt. That’s why some people find her uncomfortable to watch and listen to, because she was not cool or aloof. You must get involved as you listen.”
With 32 label honchos Joel and Adam Dorn, Schechter – a Philadelphia native and acclaimed Garland historian who publishes a tribute magazine on Judy, Liza Minnelli and Lorna Luft called “Garlands For Judy” and wrote bits of “Judy’s” 100-page text along with contributions from Aretha Franklin, Camille Paglia and Will Friedwald – the trio ran through hundreds of hours of once-lost Garland demos, outtakes, live bootlegs, and videotapes of her CBS TV series from 1963-64.
“I gave them homework every day” laughs Schechter about working with the Dorns. “I almost felt sorry for them when they had to listen to a dozen different versions of ‘Swanee.'” But the end result, featuring rare duets with Tony Bennett, Bobby Darin and Peggy Lee, and sweepingly sonorous jazz arrangements courtesy of Mort Lindsay, speak more than any text ever could. “I would only be satisfied if I could have shared 40 CDs with the world instead of four,” says Schechter, “but for now we’ve crafted what I feel is the definitive look at the life and art of Judy Garland.”
There was a random complaint about the cigarette commercial included in the video compilation, a classic case of someone being “offended” as we say these days in our culture of everyone being offended by everything and over sharing on social media:
Subject: Re: The JUDY List Digest – 11/30/98
Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1998 13:38:13 EST
i just wanted to say that i recieved the”BOX SET” as a gift last
week. i wasn’t gonna buy it but a friend of mine knows i love Judy
so…. whats all the whoha about? it’s a cute little set great to
get as a GIFT from someone. the only thing i hated was that DAMNED
lucky strike commercial. what were they made for only manly men to
smoke? and ladies had to get cancer from some other brand? i just
lost someone very close to me to emphysema this year (a woman) and
i wish they would delete any future cigarette ads. the contact one
was cute tho. kenny
Scott alerted folks to the fact that “The Judy Garland Show” #24 would get a VHS release, and Lorna’s appearances promoting the set:
Subject: Show #24
Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 20:20:56 EST
>From what I’ve been told, it is hoped that Show #24 will be out to everyone by Christmas.
The last I heard, 32 Records seems to agree with me and with you : anyone who wants to buy a copy of the VHS tape of Show #24 WILL be able to.
I’ll keep you posted as to exactly when the tapes are being shipped.
Also : For anyone who is interested : After appearing on QVC today for the “Judy” Box, Lorna taped a piece on Judy (and “Judy”) for National Public Radio (NPR), which is slated to air this Sunday morning, December 6th, sometime between 7-11 AM during the “Weekend Edition Show.” (Here in NYC, the program can be heard on 93.9 FM or on WNYC 820 AM.) (We’ve already been warned however there is a chance the program may be preempted here in NY, due to a last minute schedule change.)
I want to also say how thrilled I am about Rita’s great news! It sounds like a wonderful tribute to our lady, and I wish her all the best with “Zing!” Congratulations, Rita!
All Best and Warmest,
The proposed VHS release of Show #24 didn’t happen.
Subject: More audio and Video TV Material Is Coming!!
Date: Mon, 7 Dec 1998 15:15:44 EST
I called 32 Records directly out of curiosity to find out when more audio and video might be released from the Judy Garland show and was told that in the fall of ’99 another video and 2 CD Set will be released with Material from the Judy Garland Show. I was told one 2 cd set would be released every year until “every” audio recording was released on cd. Thirty Two said they are pleased with the sales of the box set and that we can definately expect a lot more audio recordings and video recordings from the Judy Garland show to be released. Although still tentative and won’t be final until around the time of Judy’s 30th Anniversary of her death 32 Records expects another “32” audio recordings will be available in the fall of ’99. This is great news for Judy Garland fans don’t you think? After all these years finally a record label wants to release as many recordings as they possibly can! It’s a dream come true! I will keep you informed as soon as I know more info. I’m just a Judy Fan like everyone else but 32 records is truthful and if they say a “2 CD Set” of audio material from the Judy Garland show will be released along with another video with a set of outtakes in the fall of ’99 it will be released. Post your opinions and responses to the JudyList. Hope to hear your comments.
Robert (A #1 Judy fan)
Subject: 32 Record’s Judy plans
Date: Wed, 9 Dec 1998 19:11:21 EST
Robert, I’m very happy to hear of both your enthusiasm and your talk with 32 Records. However, I should clarify for you and everyone, that no future audio / video Judy projects have been set in stone. The info relayed to you was from a 1999 production schedule meeting held 3 months ago. While it’s certainly hoped to have the Series released on video, along with a TV Special, and other compilations next year (all of which have been announced), it’s much too soon to talk about them as we’ve been concentrating only on marketing and pr for the “Judy” box. As soon as we start working on the projects, and decisions are made, I’ll let the List know.
All Best and Warmest,
Still the optimist, Scott stayed out of the discussion, which had died down for the most part. On December 23rd he attempted to rally members to put together a Judy Garland Christmas tape, giving his suggestions. Although it’s lengthy, I add it here as an example of not just his optimistic nature, but also as an example of his attention to detail. In this case, that detail is providing information of where one could find each title in his list. This is a case of a Garfan’s obsession being a positive thing rather than a negative.
Subject: Christmas With Judy, Through The Years
Date: Wed, 23 Dec 1998 20:27:46 EST
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to everyone!
I thought you might like to try putting together your own tape (for your own private home use, of course 🙂 of Judy at Christmas time “Through The Years,” to play over the coming holiday. We are all very lucky that the lady left us such a rich legacy in general, and that does extend quite nicely to Christmas as well (with perhaps a bit of “padding” here and there.)
1) Silent Night, 1937 (for the MGM Christmas short that year; Heard on both the 1995 MGM Laser Disc Judy collection, and the Mickey / Judy box released the same year.)
2) Love Finds Andy Hardy, 1938 (Judy’s “Betsy Booth” DOES sing two songs — “It Never Rains, But What It Pours,” and “Meet The Beat Of My Heart” — at the Christmas Ball in Carvel, and there’s lots of other events of the season here — trading presents; shots of Judy near the Xmas Tree, etc.)
3) ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas, 1939 (Judy recites ONE line of this holiday classic, during the Arrow Head Springs Hotel opening, heard in the circa 1993 “Judy Garland On Radio” )
4) Judy and Mickey on Santa Claus Lane, 1940 (Live broadcast heard in the Mickey and Judy Rhino Records Box mentioned above.)
5) The Birthday Of A King; and : Star Of The East, both 1941 (Decca Records single, found on the MCA Box, etc.)
6) Silent Night, 1942 (CBS Christmas Show with Bob Hope; Judy sings one chorus, then is joined by cast on second; On a CD or LP, I believe)
7) Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, 1943 (Version recorded December 4th, 1943, for MGM’s “Meet Me In St. Louis” … You also have the many Christmas scenes in the movie )
8) Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, 1944 ( Decca version)
9) O Come All Ye Faithful, 1944 (Command Performance; Dinah Shore introduces Judy; I believe this is on an LP)
10) You’ll Never Walk Alone, 1945 (Decca Records song … Well, it’s an “inspirational” and IS on the 1995 LaserLight “Christmas Through The Years” CD)
11) It Came Upon A Midnight Clear, 1945 (Command Performance / Bob Hope Party CD on the VJC Label)
12) Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, 1946 ( Both the dress rehearsal of the radio version — December 1st, 1946, on Peligan LP — and the broadcast version the next day — exist.)
13) Merry Christmas, 1948 (recorded on November 16th, 1948, for MGM’s “In The Good Old Summertime,” which contains many Xmas scenes)
14) Rudolph, The Red Nose Reindeer, 1950 (recorded in mid-late November, 1950, for the December 6th, 1950 broadcast of “The Bing Crosby Show” … was on an out-of-print bootleg LP, and is now on Mark’s database of files, I believe, right? 🙂
15) Over The Rainbow, 1950 (from the “live” radio adaption of “The Wizard Of Oz” — on Radiola CD — of December 25th, 1950, Christmas Day! 🙂
16) A Star Is Born, 1953 / 54 ( There are scenes that take place during Christmas in this 1954 Warner Brothers release.)
17) Happy New Year, 1957 (From the “Alone” Capitol Records LP — out for a brief time in 1989 on CD, now out of print)
18) You’ll Never Walk Alone, 1960 (From “The London Sessions” CD)
19) Little Drops Of Rain, 1961 ( Another song on the “Xmas Through The Years” CD, recorded in November, 1961, for the “Gay Purr-ee” movie)
20) One More Lamb, 1962 (Ok, maybe a stretch …. but think about it …. From the United Artists “3 Billion Millionaires” LP — or do I have that backwards? …. Issued on a “Definitive JG” Bootleg CD in 1991, now out of print)
21) Little Drops Of Rain, 1962 (As sung on the December 2nd, 1962 videotaping of “Jack Paar”)
22) Smile, 1963 (Again, perhaps a stretch, but on the LaserLight CD …. Best rendition is from Sunday Night at Palladium, March 10th, 1963 …. On the “Judy” Box)
23) I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm , 1963 (from Series)
24) Somebody Touched Me, 1963 (from Series)
25) Through The Years, 1963 (with appropriate opening speech; from Series)
26) Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. 1963 (from Series Xmas Show)
27) Little Drops Of Rain, 1963 (as above)
28) Jingle Bells, 1963 (as above)
29) Walking In A Winter Wonderland, 1963 (as above)
30) Christmas Song, 1963 (as above)
31) What Child Is This? , 1963 (as above)
32) Deck The Halls, 1963 (as above)
33) Over The Rainbow, 1963 (from above — “the thing you do every year,” as Joe Luft says on the show …. The Xmas show has, obviously, tons of Holiday Cheer, including Judy’s superbly comic dance with the Santas! 🙂
34) Oh, Lord, I’m On My Way , 1964 (from Series)
35) Great Day, 1964 (from Series)
36) Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, 1964 (from Series … Yes, you could even thus include the “Everybody Sing” version of you wanted 🙂
37) Xmas Message for the National Guard, 1967 (taped radio message)
38) Till After The Holidays, 1968 (from the December 17th, 1968 “Tonight Show”)
39) Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, 1968 (from the December 19th, 1968 videotaping of “The Merv Griffin Show” …. on that 1991 “Definitive JG” bootleg CD)
40) Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, 1995 (the Judy / Lorna “duet”)
There you have it …. I may have left a few things out; this was done very quickly, all from my “beezer,” but I wanted you to see that there is plenty of Judy Holiday material out there (if a good deal of them ARE multiple versions of “Have Yourself ..” 🙂 …. Though I will still continue to dream that maybe it will be discovered that Judy went into Capitol Records — circa 1960 – 1964 — and recorded a Christmas album in Stereo, with Mort!
All Best and Warmest,
(To Mark Harris : I had some minor e-mail address book problems on AOL, and lost a few addresses, around the “H’s,” yours being one of them — I know, lucky you! …. So forgive me for using this public space to relay a private “Happy Holidays” to you, and bless you for being a true gift to all of us, all year long!)
After the Christmas holiday, the people who had gotten “The Box” as presents began to weigh in with their opinions. These prompted the previous Negative Nancys to regurgitate their negativity. No one, it seems (even if they didn’t like the set) was content with a simple “I’m glad you like it” although for the most part the feedback was positive.
Subject: Box Set
From: Ted <XXX@geocities.com>
Date: Sun, 27 Dec 1998 22:12:07 -0500
Well, I guess I’m the last person on the list to recieve the box set, and all I can say is…W O W.
Well, actually I’m going to say a lot more, windbag that I am.
Like most others who reviewed the set for the list, first I popped in the video. However, it was Christmas morning, there were other presents, and I didn’t really get much of a look. What I did see just HIT ME — POW! The only episode I have is the Barbra Streisand program, and that’s the only one I’ve seen as well. Judy’s performances are just incredible. I did have two qualms, however. One — why the heck was half of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” cut?? You can’t get the full effect the CD track of it gives with half the song.
Next…the packaging. It’s great — the colors are bright and cheerful, and the black looks very elegant. Page Simon did a wonderful job.
Next…the book. Friedwald’s essay did seem rather short (as did his essay from “Judy Garland in Hollywood”), especially for Friedwald, who wrote an entire, 300-page book about Sinatra. How can he condense Judy — especially the Judy in this box set — to a sparse few pages?? Aretha Franklin’s also short interview was wonderful and extremely quotable (“The woman was soul personified”!) Camille Paglia’s essay I more or less skipped, read the first few paragraphs and just didn’t warm up to it. However, I loed “An Interview with Mort Lindsey.” Lindsey provided a great perspective on Judy, especially since he’s the only person in the book who actually knew Judy. Joel Dorn, however, seems to have something to prove during the interview (“Don’t sell me short, Mort”?!?) Oh well, it’s still tres
enjoyable. However, Scott’s essay (“Garlands for Judy”) is surely the highlight. The use of exclamation points makes it seem more like a fan discussing his favorite singer. And Scott did a great job of keeping just on the right side of the line separating “sincere” and “sappy.” One problem, though, why aren’t the tracks listed somewhere on the individual CD cases?? It’s annoying to have to dig the book out everytime I want to find a certain song. Of course, pretty soon I’ll know the track listings by heart..!
Now, the CDs! Too short. Waaaaaaaaaaaay too short. With all the available material, only having 40-50 minutes on each CD is extremely skimpy, when “Judy Garland in Hollywood” had about 78. Unless, of course, they wanted to leave me hungry for more, especially TV series tracks, which they accomplished. I am split, though — I love CDs 1 + 2 as much as 3 + 4. “All the Things You Are” — what a fantastic song, and Judy does a great job. I had no idea she had ever even *sung* the song publicly! Are there a lot of other radio rarities around? Also — it was absolutely *great* to get a clean version of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” which I only have in a whistly MP3 version, courtesy Mark (thanks Mark!) By the way… has anyone ever thought of undertaking a “Judy Garland: The Radio Years” compialtion of radio tracks such as the above, along with songs like “You Belong to Me,” “Wish You Were Here” and other MP3-only rarities? 🙂 How about, oh I dunno … 32 RECORDS?!? 🙂
On to TV Show tracks…my favorites duets are “Lonesome Road” (with Bobby Darrin — doesn’t that swing??), “Get Happy/Happy Days Are Here Again” (with Streisand), and the “Man Medley” (with Peggy Lee). The rest are just incredible, all of them. I’d really just be repeating previous praise, going on here..but I must say, this is the most incredible Judy sound recording I’ve ever heard (all 4 discs together, I mean). Scott — are there any plans at all (not even big ones, maybe only things being discussed) that you can tell us about, for future releases??
Scott responded with more details about why the VHS tape included in the set was 32 minutes long and not longer.
Subject: Re: The JUDY List Digest – 12/28/98 ; Teds Questions re the “Judy” box
Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998 23:33:00 EST
Ted, thanks for the spirited and mostly rave review for the “Judy” box. I’ll try and answer your questions.
As I believe I mentioned here earlier, “Battle Hymn” was edited due to : 1) Judy’s microphone shorting out and the loss of a few words (which I voted to leave in as is, although I was overruled by Joel ; for me it only added to the dramatic impact of the song) (especially since we know it just HAD to be James Aubrey himself “shorting off” Judy’s mike from the CBS control room 🙂 and 2) Time constraints (as also mentioned here, the video was originally planned to only be 20 minutes long! As it was, 32 Records reached into it’s pockets to pay the added cost of 2 extra minutes to the finally agreed-upon 30, bringing the tape’s playing time to 32 minutes …. and 7 seconds 🙂
The tracks aren’t listed on the back of each 2-pac CD tray because the trays had to be in production even before we made the final selections for the discs themselves (and so were all the outer Boxes, which is why the songs are not listed there either. …. We didn’t make the final song selection and complete the final mastering until the very end of August, and we had complete, total packages in 3 weeks, so you can see how quickly actual compact discs are physically made; It’s everything ELSE that takes a long time to manufacture.) What you can do, if you like, is to cut the silver foil track listing from the back (that fell off once you removed the plastic outer wrapping that covered the Box), and tape each Disc “section” on the back of the appropriate black CD tray. (Some people have found this helpful so they don’t have to refer to the book for song titles.)
I agree with you : way too short. (As I’ve also said, I’d have been happiest if the box could have been FORTY discs instead of four. Of course I argued for more material to be included — we had enough for 60 discs! — but as Joel has said in interviews, he was only looking to present “examples” of Judy at a particular time. Also, keep in mind that each added song is another expense to a label, in terms of royalties, and licensing rights, etc, and that must be fit into a project’s budget. As it is, 32 Records spent millions of dollars — truthfully — on this box set, and while they seemed to be willing to reach into their pockets where they felt it was appropriate, such as the extra 2 minutes of video tape for every copy of the box made, the book going from 60 up to 100 pages, etc, they still had a bottom line to adhere to, if they were to make a profit without raising the list price (and after all, they are in a business, and have a right to expect a profit for their efforts.) Again, while I’d be thrilled with more, I still say 3 hours and 8 minutes of audio, 32 minutes of video, and a 100-page book with 130 photographs, the grand total of which cost millions of dollars to make, isn’t too bad a deal for $80 list price (and most people paid around $60 at discount, which makes it all the more a steal.)
While nothing has been officially decided yet for more Judy CDs at 32 Records, I’m sure that since they have spent a lot to buy the audio and video rights to the TV Series, it would make sense to utilze all of that material first, before using songs from other sources. (There is still a “mother load — or “MAMAload” — of rare radio material that 32 Records could easily release, both what we considered for inclusion in the box, and more. Some of this Joel seemed to express much affection for, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m able to talk him into doing a set of radio material at some point, but not for while, I’d say.) There’s nothing officially on the schedule Ted, but you know you’ll read about it here first! 🙂 (Oh, OK : Here’s one thing we’ve talked BRIEFLY about, among many other Judy projects this year announced in the NY Times already — i.e. TV Special, Video compilation, and videos of the shows — there has been talk of a 2-CD set of more Series material, for later in ’99, I’d guess around her birthday perhaps. Stay tuned. …. The video of the first Series show 32
is releasing — Show 24, Judy In Concert, with guest Vic Damone — should be out in the next few weeks; we’re just finishing the mastering now, and there ARE some great OUTTAKES here! …. I’ll have more later.)
Mary — For detailed info on the “Judy” box set, go to the official website at http://www.32judy.com
All Best and Warmest,
The “DD” person chimed in again:
Subject: Re: The JUDY List Digest – 12/28/98
Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 18:14:12 EST
In a message dated 12/28/98 7:10:11 PM Pacific Standard Time,
<< Now, the CDs! Too short. Waaaaaaaaaaaay too short. With all
the available material, only having 40-50 minutes on each CD is
extremely skimpy, when “Judy Garland in Hollywood” had about 78.
Unless, of course, they wanted to leave me hungry for more, >>
The CDs in the 32 Records set are virtually half the length they could be. In effect, they could have fit all they used on 3 CDs with room to spare for extra music. This is one example of why I posted that I felt this set was so poorly produced. An attempt at a “definitive” boxed set should have had 4 CDs stuffed to the limit. The extra 2 hrs of material that could have fit on the set would have significantly improved the value and quality of this release. It also would have given the release some diginfied attempt at being somewhat representative of the career of someone whom I consider the greatest entertainer of the 20th Century.
But IMHO, it would seem the producers were not interested in making the best possible product, but instead just concerned about making the most impact with not the most amount of effort (or expense). I was roasted over the coals for airing my disdain for this release in earlier postings, but I tried to point out my ire was mostly in regard to what could have been as opposed to the half-baked (and not neccesarily full of the proper ingredients) results.
Yes, a 4 CD set could have held nearly 2 hours more music than what 32 Records gave its customers for a very heady price. Many Garland collectors I know have passed over purchasing this set as they feel it largely contains material available before, and not presented in an interesting fashion. I bet their unit sales would have been a lot higher had more music been included in their collection.
The following posts are good examples of the positive and negative effect the set had on fans. The general consensus being that the CDs should have had more content (regardless of Scott’s explanations).
Subject: “Judy” box set—impressions
Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 18:57:05 -0500 (EST)
Hope you had a great Christmas! I sure did, and one reason is that I am now the proud owner of the new “Judy” box set. My parents, cool people that they are, bought it for me. Yeee-ha!! I have only had one day to start getting into it, but here are my initial reactions:
1. The overall visual design of the box is superb. The drawing, the concept, the very sleek and classy way the box was put together, the whole look and feel of it—including the booklet—is as good as you can get. Garland is presented not as a nostalgia piece, but as a contemporary and vivid slice of modern popular culture—and that’s good. The teardrop image? Sorry guys, but I don’t see any problem with it. As a piece of graphic art representing its subject at quick glance—which is its primary function after all—it looks supremely cool, especially against the otherwise dark blue background. To look at it as tiresomely perpetuating the “tragic” image is making a bigger deal of it than it warrants. It’s an eye-catching graphic, it serves its purpose well, and it works.
2. The booklet contents. First of all, some AWESOME pictures here, folks! At least three, taken in the early 1960s, are just amazing portrait studies of the mature Garland. (I do wish some of the photos had captions, though; they often appear smack-dab in the middle of text that has nothing to do with the photo in question, and with no contextual clues. A minor complaint, but one worth noting).
The essays? Well, first of all, two of them—the interviews with Mort Lindsey and Aretha Franklin—are not essays at all, but rather transcripts of Q and A interviews. The basic thesis of Will Friedwald’s essay seems a bit odd—Garland dabbled in jazz techniques occasionally but essentially was NOT a jazz vocalist. Why compare her with those who were? Yet Friedwald does make some very perceptive and accurate points about her vocal style, and I enjoyed reading his essay the most of all of them.
Aretha Franklin’s interview doesn’t really tell us things we didn’t know, but it reminds us that Garland’s appeal extends even to rock/soul performers… something that’s good to hear from time to time. Mort Lindsey’s affection for Judy shines through, as does Scott Schecter’s (even with ALL the italics AND explanation points COMPLETELY intact!!!!!!!) The other essay, by a reporter from the New York Times, I believe (I forget her name, and don’t have the box set with me at the moment to look it up)….. well, she made quite a few perceptive points as well, although at times she colored it with her own slightly off-the-wall opinions. She made too big a deal of the gay-icon thing, for instance. Still, each of the essays had something worthwhile to add to the considerable canon of Garland-in-print.
By the way, some pages of the booklet consisted of photo montages printed in fluorescent day-glo colors. A few people found this offensive to Judy’s spirit, but it didn’t really make a big impression on me one way or the other. I suppose the colors added some sparkle and gave it kind of a modern touch. They sure didn’t hurt any. Another no-big-deal.
3. The video. Approximately 30 minutes of top-quality Garland videotape footage from her 1963/1964 TV series. Most of the clips consist of Judy holding the hand mike in a “concert” format—as opposed to, say, production numbers or “set” pieces. A good move, that; since Judy in Concert was Judy at her best. My favorite of the video songs: A wonderful, wistful version of “When Your Lover has Gone” that I’ve never heard or seen before. Excellent! The video, although in black-and-white, has excellent, crisp sound and picture quality. No film transfers like we’re used to seeing, but true high-fidelity videotape.
Unfortunately, the video was horribly marred by the one BIG mistake of the whole box set: the decision to include vintage commercials. I guess the idea was to make it seem as though you were time-transported back to 1963, watching the original programs— but the commercials only serve to bring you harshly out of Garland’s magic singing spell and back down to earth with a painful slam. The ads also rudely remind us that these programs (and Garland herself) have been part of the past for thirty or thirty-five years now—a vaguely depressing thought. Oh well…. at least there weren’t many of the ads, and to be fair, it’s only 5 bad minutes out of a 30-minute video. It was just a bad move, that’s all. Broke the spell rather harshly.
Anyway, most of the video is excellent. Hopefully it’s just a “teaser” for a much more comprehensive Garland video collection in months to come. (Hint, Scott!!!)
4. The music—Well actually, I spent a lot of my initial time with the box set reading the booklet and watching the video! However, I did also check out about half the tunes on all 4 discs. So here’s my first general impressions:
First, I think maybe you could have a really good “concept” box set covering the 1963/64 TV series. OR you could have a career-long retrospective box set covering Garland’s entire life.
But I think it’s setting an impossible goal to attempt both aims at the same time, unless you had about 15 compact discs to work with. To attempt both goals—a woman’s life’s history in music, and the TV series as well—is too much to ask four compact discs to do.
The best way to look at the set is probably to consider it sort of a long double-album sampler. (“Sampler” is the best word to use for a mere 4 compact discs claiming to be a Judy Garland career retrospective). Discs 1 and 2 consist of the young Judy Garland on radio, in films, and in the recording studio. Discs 3 and 4 consist of the mature Judy Garland In Concert.
First, let’s talk about the rarities: This box set is loaded with ’em. There are tracks of young Judy Garland at age seven, when she was still Frances Gumm—her earliest known recordings. (Unfortunately, these are old film soundtracks and there must have been a lot of tap dancing going on around her; the voice is nearly drowned out at times by what sounds like a heard of elephants wearing tap shoes). There are also rarely heard radio tracks—for instance, a stunning, silky version of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, in amazingly crystal clear sound quality. It’s one of the many tunes on this box set I’ve NEVER heard before, and this one in particular was interesting because I previously only knew this song via Frank Sinatra’s swingin’ finger-snapping version. Garland presents a whole new “take” on the song, and it’s wonderful.
There is also a wide and varied sampling of Garland’s work for the Decca and Capitol record labels, and in her MGM films in the 1930s and 1940s (the original soundtrack version of “Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz” is included here). Most of the songs are pretty good, although I’m a big stickler for sound quality and a few (not all) of the radio broadcasts and/or rehearsals were not in the best sound. I would have sacrified them to make room for more of the crystalline-sounding Decca records, which are really clear and crisp for their time. We really didn’t need the rehearsal of “Over the Rainbow”, for instance; particularly since the next track is the much-clearer-sounding actual soundtrack version of the same song. Relatively minor gripe, though and not a big deal.
Discs 3 and 4 consist almost entirely of Judy in live performance. These “concert” songs were all from the original CBS videotapes of her 1963/1964 TV series “The Judy Garland Show”. Sound quality, once again, is excellent—although in mono (of course), since TV programs were taped in mono in those days.
On the two “live” discs, Garland is best on the quiet songs, like “A Cottage for Sale” (a stunning performance). She tackles the fast numbers with strength and power, but on some of them, her voice sounds surprisingly harsh— particularly so when you don’t have the accompanying video image to help you “interpret” the sound. For the first time, really, I can sort of understand why some people think Garland lost her singing voice as she grew older. She didn’t, of course; but Judy in 1963 and 1964 clearly did not possess the velvety head-on-shoulder smoothness that she had twenty years earlier. That’s OK, though: she made up for it, and then some, by intensifying the emotional delivery, modernizing her approach (Judy in the 1960s may not have sung rock & roll, but she did ROCK!), and tackling an amazingly wide variety of songs that you wouldn’t ordinarily associate with her. (“Old Man River”, for instance). Many of these rare songs are included here.
There are also a few duets included, with people such as Tony Bennett, Bobby Darin, and the young Barbra Streisand. Although all of Garland’s singing partners were capable vocalists (particularly Streisand, whose duet with Garland on “Get Happy/Happy Days are Here” is a gem), I’m glad these duets were kept to a minimum since Garland herself was more than enough to keep any show going.
The final song on the last Disc is a live version of “Over the Rainbow”, recorded during a London nightclub performance five months before Judy’s death in 1969. I would not have included this recording, primarily because the sound is so tinny. (I said I was a stickler for audio quality). If it was an absolute necessity to include a track of Judy singing at the very end of her life (and I suppose it was), I would have gone for the much-clearer-sounding Copenhagen concert that was done even later, and which was also recorded. But even with the ragged sound on that last song, it’s nice to hear the complete evolution of Garland’s life, from the promising 7-year-old Frances Gumm to the tired but still-talented 46-year-old nightclub and concert star named Judy Garland. Even at the very end of her amazing life— and she was clearly winding down by that point—she could still cut to the essence of a lyric better than anybody else.
Well, there’s even more but I’ve already gone on too long (as I have a habit of doing), so that’s about it, for now anyway. The “Judy” box? Maybe not perfect, but it’s quite a nice collection.
Subject: Re: The JUDY List Digest – 12/28/98
Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 21:13:50 EST
I too am somewhat disappointed with the box set. However, BIG PAUSE, I think that was to be expected, since I am more a fan of Judy’s Metro years than of her concert/T.V. series years (vocally, that is to say). Otherwise, as with most of the other Judy box sets, the thing I find most lacking is a number by number history of each song as we have in the Patsy Cline Box Set, for example. I.E. – recording date, musicians, etc. OK – now flame me. I can take it!
Subject: Re: The JUDY List Digest – 12/28/98
From: Ted <XXX@geocities.com>
Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 23:54:10 -0500
> An attempt at
> a “definitive” boxed set should have had 4 CDs stuffed to the
I agree, a “definitive” boxed set would have 4 stuffed-to-the-limit CDs. However, in an interview about the set, Joel Dorn himself said he was not looking to make a “definitive” boxed set. Of course, for me, a “definitive” boxed set would really be ALL her recordings. Period. 🙂
Of course, the most “definitive” boxed sets I can think of have 15-20 CDs, like Reprise’s “Frank Sinatra Suitcase” (all his commercial recordings for that label!) and Verve’s “Complete Ella Fitzgerald Songbooks” collection.
Subject: Re: “Judy” box set—impressions
From: Ted <XXX@geocities.com>
Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 23:59:04 -0500
Dave Hill wrote:
> The teardrop image? Sorry guys, but I don’t see any problem with it.
Me neither. I came out strongly against the tear when I first saw the cover in the thumbnails on Amazon.com and Music Blvd. It seemed to play too much into the tragic-Judy image. However, now that I see it, it looks good. Judy did have sadness in her life, but through it all, she smiles. The pathos are deep in that tear. 🙂 Look at it this way: Judy cried (not literally, but YKWIM), but through her tears (in this case, IN her tears) she provided the world with happiness (hence, Happy Judy within the tears of Sad Judy). Well, that’s what I saw, anyway.
> By the way, some pages of the booklet consisted of photo montages
> printed in fluorescent day-glo colors. A few people found this
> offensive to Judy’s spirit, but it didn’t really make a big
> impression on me one way or the other.
I liked the colors. I can’t see anything bad they could do to Judy’s spirit. The whole packaging came off very classily (new word!), and I think the day-glo colors just showed Judy was not stuck in some time warp.
From: “Randy” <XXX@hotmail.com>
Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 21:22:19 PST
I know Scott means well by answering questions about the Judy set and he is very gracious in how he does it. I appreciate that. He is certainly not required to defend the set and what I say now is not meant for him to do that.
What is upsetting about the length of the cds is that it could have been a two cd set with nearly as much music and at a lower cost. It feels that the advertising of 4 cds was a way to justify the cost. As to the lack of track listings on the cds, I must say that for 70 some dollars I think it should be unnecessary to glue them on ourselves. There is simply no excuse for a first rate release to fail to include track listings on the cds.
I hope that the Judy box set is successful because it would mean more releases of her tv and other material. However, I hope it is not so successful that the very legitimate concerns about the packaging, selections, and price are not taken seriously with future releases. Things can always improve and hope this is the case for future releases. Are you listening Dorn brothers?
Once again, Scott takes the high road and – since he had already explained the production of the set and the reasons behind the decisions that were made – he brightly wishes everyone a Happy New Year.
Subject: Judy’s New Year Wishes
Date: Thu, 31 Dec 1998 17:52:56 EST
This might be the umpteenth posting of this, but here are Judy’s New Year’s wishes :
“When we see each other again, it’ll be another year, a new year, so I’d like to take a moment to wish you a very happy and peaceful 1964 ” (at close of Show #14 of Series, videotaped 11/30/63, and aired 12/29/63) (the next is from Show #11, taped 10/18/63, and aired 1/5/64)
“Well, we have a whole new year ahead of us, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all be a little more gentle with each other, and a little more loving, have a little more empathy, and maybe — next year at this time — we’d like each other a little more.”
Happy and Healthy New Year
Subject: more on the “Judy” box set
Date: Mon, 4 Jan 1999 14:02:24 -0500 (EST)
Well, after now having spent several days in the company of the new “Judy” box set, I have to say my initial positive reactions still hold pretty much true. The box contains lots of previously unheard stuff (well, unheard by ME anyway) and much of it in excellent, crisp sound quality. That’s especially true of the TV series tracks, which have never sounded better.
However, I must say that the folks here who have complained about the length of the CDs do have some valid points. Actually it’s not really so much the length of the total package—I didn’t think $70 or so was out of line for the number of songs you got, plus the booklet, plus the video. It’s more the fact that the much-publicized four discs really do contain only about three discs’ worth of material. I too would rather have had a single disc containing as much music as it could handle, which is the usual standard for box sets, rather than the comparatively short CDs they turned out to be.
However, that’s really a relatively minor gripe. I’m quite satisfied with the box as a whole. I think putting together a package of Judy Garland music would be a daunting task for anyone, under any circumstances—you have to please the Garland fanatics, yet still appeal to the general public (probably an extremely difficult thing to do); you must make judgement calls as to which material to leave out or leave in, decide running order of songs, try to squeeze in as much music as possible but still try to keep the thing at a decent price…..what a job. I wouldn’t want to do it, and I’m glad Scott did.
I’m sure we all would have put the box together a little differently than Scott did, but all in all, he did a pretty good job with it. I think the single best aspect of the whole project is that it makes a very classy and fitting introduction to the music of Judy Garland for someone who might not know anything about her other than “Oz”.
The one thing I must emphasize, and I think this echoes the sentiments of many here….we want yet MORE! More high-quality videotapes of the TV series, many more CDs to come, more music that hasn’t already been done a zillion times in inferior versions by Rhino and other companies….there really is so much music sitting out there.
One of my big hopes is still that some of the TV shows—particularly the solo (or near-solo) concerts near the end—might not only be made available on home video, but could somehow be picked up by one of the networks or cable companies for broadcast. To see these high-fidelity Garland concert videotapes appear on A & E, for instance, would be just incredible.
Subject: The Many Shades of Judy’s Voice
Date: Sat, 16 Jan 1999 08:35:30 EST
Listening to the recent 32 Records collection of Judy’s singing from the TV series I am really marveling at the clarity of the recordings. Judy sounds wonderful and these really are the best TV series records I’ve ever heard. Mort Lindsay’s orchestra is impressive–on a par with Nelson Riddle I would say.
As marvelous as Judy’s voice was during this period (1963-64) I still maintain the fact that Judy’s 1961 voice was the most impressive. This is clearly obvious on the Carnegie Hall recordings. At Carnegie Hall Judy’s voice was EXTREMELY powerful–with all the delicate shadings in the quiet passages. Other fans have contended that when Judy was somewhat heavy her voice sounded better. It somehow seemed to give her more power.
Judy probably weighed less than 100 pounds circa 1963-64. When she left the series and regained her health (1965 and early 1966) she gained more weight. This was during the “Mark Herron years”. With the weight gain Judy regained some of the marvelous 1961 richness and power. This was most noticeable during November 1965 when Judy appeared at the Congo Room of the Sahara for a two enagement that was pure heaven and early 1966 (Feb.) when she appeared for about two weeks at the Diplomat Hotel in Fla. She tackled songs that really showcased THAT voice: “Stormy Weather” and “Joey, Joey”.
Just an opinion–
During all the talk about the set, there had been some discussion about the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids having video tapes of the show available for purchase. This confused people, what with the recent explanations about how 32 Records purchased them. The main question was how the JG Museum would have copies when it was 32 Records who had new ownership. Steve Sanders cleared things up.
Subject: Re: The JUDY List Digest – 01/21/99
Date: Fri, 22 Jan 1999 16:43:53 EST
RE: Grand Rapids Museum/videotapes
I asked Sid about the recent postings concerning the controversy surrounding the series programs being made available — and then apparently pulled — by the JG Museum. Sid asked that I attempt to dissolve the confusion here.
He told me today that there was a “mistake” on the part of the Museum, in that he advised them he was going to donate to the Grand Rapids site all the kinescopes of the series episodes. The Museum, however, apparently didn’t note the distinction of “kinescopes” vs. actual video tapes. And, he said, jumped the gun in announcing the acquisition of the material.
Sid further told me that, before he actually gave the kines to the Museum, he decided instead to donate them all to UCLA where, he reasoned, “they would do the most good in terms of being available to the public and to researchers” in LA vs. Minnesota. He said that they, in fact, are all now at UCLA as promised.
Another positive post from Scott, mentioning what some had seen as a rival project, the “Judy Garland in Hollywood” CD from Rhino Records that came out the same time as the boxed set.
Great to hear that “JG In Hollywood” is doing so well; It certainly deserves to. (George [Feltenstein, the CD’s producer], is there any hope of still pushing for a complete “Judy At MGM” CD Box set? Also, since it appears that Laser is slowly winding down while DVDs are on the rise, are there any plans to release any of Judy’s Metro and or United Artists films on DVD? One last question, George : Can you shed any light on why so many of Judy’s films were recently pulled from home video circulation — on VHS and on Laser also, I believe? I know many other Metro movies were put out to pasture as well, so it certainly wasn’t anything toward towards Judy personally, but were these particular titles pulled because there have already been more recent Remasterings done on the titles — such as the 3 features on your heavenly “Golden Years At MGM” Laser set? Or are there plans to do remasterings on these films, like adding the new Stereo tracks, etc? Or was this a part of the transfer of ownership from MGM / UA Home Video to Warners (Time/ Warner)? Thanks for everything, George)
Sales for both the “JG in Hollywood” and the “Judy” box releases were inquired about here ; 32 Records has told me they are extremely pleased with the sales of the box, which has been doing very well (and did particularly so over the Holidays)
All Best and Warmest,
In going through all of the posts during this period (and I mean ALL of them), it’s clear that Scott Schechter stayed out of the drama and tried to keep the focus on the positive, even when that drama was directed at him and/or his product. On the rare times that he did address the negativity, it was always in a positive manner. Too bad others couldn’t (and still can’t) do the same.
This boxed set was Scott’s first big job as a Garland “historian” and as a producer of a major Judy Garland media release. That ruffled some ego feathers. Considering the complaints he received, just via this list (who knows what he received personally?), it’s kind of amazing that he forged ahead and ended up producing, or being responsible for, so many future Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli releases on CD, DVD, Blu-ray, and in print.
In 2005 John Fricke spearheaded a series of themed CDs culled from the soundtracks of the shows for the Savoy Jazz label. All but one those were very short in length as well but were sold at the price of a full CD, usually around $24.95. The first in the series was a little over 64 minutes; the second was 43:43; the third was 59:29; the fourth was a good 79:03; the fifth was 44:13; the sixth was 42:30; the seventh was 57:41; the eighth and last in the series was 45:54. When I complained that the CDs were too short for the price, Mr. Fricke had a huge very public hissy fit because that fourth CD was almost 80 minutes long. So you know, what the hell was my problem? Well, obviously that was the anomaly. At this point, the complete series had been released on DVD and most people assumed that the CDs were simply ripped from those DVDs, something the more tech savvy Garfans had already done. Considering that some of the CDs were very uneven and even poor in their sound quality, from track to track, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was indeed the case
In hindsight, after knowing Scott for a short seven years, I’m sure that in spite of his positive public persona the barbs and mud thrown his way must have hurt him. He rarely ever talked about it, preferring to stay positive and focus on the projects he had going on the time. He did tell me a few stories about the behind the scenes chicanery that went on as a result of the grand hoohahs getting their egos bruised.
After 1998 turned to 1999, discussions on the List returned to the normal variety of topics. It wouldn’t be long before Scott found himself in trouble with Lorna Luft regarding his actions at the premiere of her Judy Garland tribute show, “Songs My Mother Taught Me.” That’s when he became hated by a faction of Garfandom, and when he was ousted from being a part of the Luft enterprises. That’s detailed in the next chapter.
© 2015 Scott Brogan, The Judy Room & Judy Garland News & Events
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