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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twenty classic recordings of a young Judy Garland, 25 Oct 2003
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Classic Songs from the Stage & (Audio CD)
Classic Songs From the Stage & Screen pulls together twenty great recordings from Judy Garland's first decade in Hollywood, spanning the years 1936-1945. Old favorites are mixed with a number of less familiar yet wonderful songs in something of an odd mix, as the tracks seem to be arranged in a somewhat random order. In its own little way, though, this album illustrates Judy's progression from a girl with an amazing voice to a mature and unequalled singer ready to take on the world. The tender naiveté of Over the Rainbow differs much from the melancholy-laced anthem You'll Never Walk Alone.
The album opens with Garland's trademark song from 1939's The Wizard of Oz. My favorite Judy movie of them all, 1944's Meet Me in St. Louis, furnishes its title track and Judy's always-in-demand treat The Trolley Song, while Gene Kelly joins Judy to sing When You Wore a Tulip (And I Wore a Big Red Rose) from their 1942 film For Me and My Gal. You might think that Judy's powerful voice would clash with Kelly's laid-back singing style, but the two voices blend together beautifully. The same can be said of Judy's 1945 duet with Bing Crosby, Yah-Ta-Ta, Yah-Ta-Ta (Talk, Talk, Talk); this is a fun little give-and-take ditty featuring a bright and bubbly Judy Garland. Friendship, a duet with Johnny Mercer, is another fun song that doesn't really showcase Judy's voice but certainly highlights the type of joy that I wish Judy could have known far more often than she did throughout her life.
In her earliest of days, Judy was given a lot of jazzy little numbers to sing, as the studios tried to find the proper niche for their talented new singer/actress. Swing, Mister Charlie goes all the way back to 1936. All God's Chillun Got Rhythm is another early recording; this 1937 tune from the film A Day at the Races has a soulful, minstrel sound to it that doesn't perfectly suit Judy's voice, although she does a marvelous job with the song. Fascinating Rhythm is a jazzy tune from 1939 that really shows the growing maturity in Judy's voice, even as it reflects the optimistic youthful sound of a girl who dearly loved to sing.
The song that really got Judy's foot planted firmly in the door is (Dear Mr. Gable) You Made Me Love You (1937); after she sang the song at a birthday party for Clark Gable, this special Roger Edens arrangement quickly found its way (along with Judy) into Broadway Melody of 1938. The song that had originally convinced Edens of this extraordinary girl's talent was Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart; this is a well-known tune Judy would go on to perform many times in concert, but I prefer this early 1939 version of the song for its youthful exuberance.
I Never Knew (I Could Love Anybody Like I'm Loving You), recorded in 1942, indelibly illustrates Judy's evolution into a super-talented, lovely young woman. Of course, that road to adulthood rarely runs smoothly; Poor Little Rich Girl speaks ably of love and its pitfalls. 1940's Buds Won't Bud is a sweet little song about loving someone who doesn't love you, a constant theme in much of Judy's early recordings. Judy was "Bidin' My Time" in 1939's Girl Crazy (although the version included here was recorded four years later). Perhaps the epitome of Judy's "growing up" numbers is Sweet Sixteen from 1939's Love Finds Andy Hardy; it is an adorable song about dwelling in the frustrating state between childhood and adulthood; no longer an "in between," Judy's character in the movie is sweet sixteen and ready to take on the world and find love. She posed the musical question How About You? to Mickey Rooney in Babes on Broadway (1941), but this studio version of the song features Judy alone. On the flip side of the subject of romance, 1938's Cry Baby Cry is a Who's Sorry Now? type number in which Judy rejoices at the sight of the boy who made her cry getting a dose of his own medicine.
The version of Swanee included here is quite different from the Swanee Judy sang in A Star Is Born and belted out in many a concert in the 1960s. This is a much softer version, recorded in 1939, featuring an introductory section I have yet to hear Judy sing elsewhere. You'll Never Walk Alone closes the album out, but I find its inclusion in this collection a little odd. It is a much different type of song from the 19 tracks preceding it, much more serious and dark than the songs of her youth. Judy's voice doesn't seem to be at its best on this version of the song, either, and I think this ends an otherwise terrific collection on a slightly somber note.
This is a great album for Judy Garland enthusiasts as well as new listeners. You can't help but fall in love with the captivating youthful Judy, seemingly so full of life, cute as a button, and remarkably talented, and serious Judy Garland fans will take delight in the handful of early 1930s recordings that aren't found all that frequently on other collections.
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Classic Songs from the Stage &
Classic Songs from the Stage & by Judy Garland (Audio CD - 1997)
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