Historic tracks from the Broadway album that was not to be
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 10/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Judy Garland Takes Broadway" was to be the big follow-up album to Garland's record-breaking Carnegie Hall concert release. Judy would sing thirteen Broadway numbers that she had never recorded before, and a crowd of 3500, including several big names in the entertainment field, filled the Manhattan Center on the night of April 26, 1962, in anticipation of the midnight concert. Unfortunately, Judy developed laryngitis on the eve of the concert. Ever the trooper, she insisted on going out and trying to perform. She apologized profusely to the audience, exercising that classic Garland humor at the same time, telling them all about her trip to the doctor, and insisting that she wanted to be able to sing beautifully for everyone there. The most memorable moment of the session to me comes when Judy thanks her fans for staying with her that night and always, for "that's what kept me alive," she says.As Mort Lindsey has stated, "Judy Garland was not capable of a bad performance." While her laryngitis can easily be sensed in her interactions with her audience and did keep her from singing a few of the songs planned for that night, the performances preserved here on this once-lost recording are still stellar. She opens the show with Noel Coward's Sail Away, hardly an easy song to sing on the best of nights, then charges through West Side Story's wordy Something's Coming (which required several takes because, as Judy says, the song had "a thousand Portuguese words"). Judy nails Just in Time, which would become one of her most crowd-pleasing songs, delivers an admirable version of My Fair Lady's energetic Get Me to the Church on Time, then gives voice to a song she herself brought to the table for this concert, Never Will I Marry (from the otherwise forgettable show Greenwillow). Joey, Joey, Joey (from Most Happy Fella) and the ever-popular Hey, Look Me Over (from Wildcat) round out the frenetic segment of the concert, and the show winds down with Some People (from Gypsy) and the rather sentimental The Party's Over (from Bells are Ringing). Among the songs that Judy was unable to sing that night on account of her laryngitis were 76 Trombones from The Music Man, Why Can't I? from Spring is Here, Tonight from West Side Story (and oh how I would love to have heard Judy sing that), and Do What You Do from Show Girl. Due to a number of factors, no second taping was ever made of Judy's Broadway album, and this wonderful set of recordings was all but lost in the vaults for over twenty-five years. This release is a wonderful Judy Garland album to own because we get such a great sense of her personality and love for her music and her fans, all of which comes through loud and clear during her many interactions with the audience between takes. This isn't Judy at her best, thanks to her laryngitis, but I can't name anyone who sounds better in perfect health than Judy did the night of this concert. In addition to the Broadway songs, this CD features five additional tracks taken from Judy Garland's 1963-64 television show. It may well be that non-Judy fans might dismiss this album out of hand, but for a Judy addict such as myself, this has long been and will long remain one of the most special CDs in my Judy Garland collection."