An interesting mix of ballads and show-stoppers
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 10/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Little Girl Blue is a collection of 16 Judy Garland recordings pulled, for the most part, from the last ten to twelve years of her singing career. The tracks switch back and forth from ballads to higher-energy tracks throughout the entire album, making it hard to attribute any real theme to the track selection. Of course, with songs this amazing, an album theme is irrelevant. I've tried to identify the source of several of these recordings, but since there is no song information included with this CD, I cannot guarantee that I am absolutely correct in all of my conclusions. One thing I am 100% sure of, though, is this: every song found on this CD is a thing of beauty and grace that any Judy Garland fan will lovingly embrace.Judy recorded many versions of Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart. The track here is a clean and crisp version of the song, with plenty of brass band sound pulsing forth behind Judy's always-strong vocals. Such zest tapers off considerably with the slow and melancholy Little Girl Blue; this song has never been one of my favorites, but Judy's voice conveys a depth of emotion few other artists could ever hope to match. Lucky Day, filled with brassy exuberance, is a fabulous song featuring Judy at her best. This track, if I'm not mistaken, comes from Judy's famous London recording sessions of 1960 - this was a comparatively happy time in Judy's life, and it shows in the gusto she imparts to this song. With I Can't Give You Anything But Love, we head back into the realm of the emotional love ballad; this is a sweet yet brooding song that remains in a comparatively low and tender range of notes throughout. The classic sax intro of the next song is immediately recognizable as the plaintive intro to the jazzy Puttin' on the Ritz; I love the way Judy sings this song, especially the inflections she places on each note in this somewhat unconventional classic. A quiet and plaintive piano accompaniment backs up Judy on the emotional ballad It Never Was You, a song not so much about a love lost as a love never found. Judy's voice doesn't get much softer than it does on this track. After You've Gone has always been a favorite of mine, and this live recording probably represents her finest version of the song; this track was in fact the first of her two encores performed at her historic concert at Carnegie Hall on April 23, 1961. This is followed by a forceful and inspiring rendition of the anthem You'll Never Walk Alone (written by Rodgers and Hammerstein). Reversing course yet again, the album then launches us into a frolicking fun recording of That's Entertainment. Happiness is Just a Thing Called Joe was originally written for a 1942 film called Cabin in the Sky, but it holds special meaning for Judy; she began singing it after the birth of her son Joe Luft. It's probably one of my least favorite Garland tracks, yet the song is undeniably beautiful. Judy knocked me out with her live version of Come Rain or Come Shine on her Carnegie Hall concert album; while the cut included here is a more sedate studio version, it's simply a fabulous song, especially when the orchestra kicks it into high gear midway through. The sentimental April Showers was first sung by Al Jolson in 1921, and it is one of several Jolson tunes Judy loved to perform throughout her career. Sammy Davis Jr. once referred to Rock-A-Bye Your Baby (With a Dixie Melody) as the theme song or anthem of all variety singers; it is true that many performed the song, but no one did it better than Judy, especially when she sang it live before an adoring audience as she does in this version of the song. More Than You Know is a beautiful love song that is somewhat unfamiliar yet more than deserving of repeated listening. I Gotta Right To Sing the Blues, co-written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler, serves in my mind as the centerpiece of Judy's poignant 1957 "Alone" album of sad love songs. The final track needs no introduction, of course, as it may be the most well-known song of all time. This is not the original movie version of Over the Rainbow, though, but a touching version recorded by Judy as an adult (in 1960, unless I'm mistaken). It's really amazing that Judy could put such undeniably heart-felt emotion into the recording of a song she had sung untold numbers of times over the years. This CD doesn't look that impressive at first glance, but it is well worth owning; I actually have each of these 16 songs on other albums in my collection, yet I still enjoy playing this CD and basking in the musical glory of the greatest singer to ever live. This may not be the best choice for the Judy newbie, however, as this CD includes only a few of Judy's most familiar recordings."