The best of Judy's incredible Capitol recordings
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 11/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't think many Judy Garland fans would argue with my statement that Judy's Capitol recordings represent her greatest work. During her Decca and MGM days, the studios had control of what songs she sang and, to some degree, how she sang them. Only with Capitol did Judy have the freedom to sing what she wanted in the way she wanted, backed up by some of the best orchestras and conductors in the business. This three-CD box set collects 65 of her incredible Capitol studio and concert recordings. Released in 1991, this was the first Judy Garland box set I ever found, and it remains my favorite. Not only are the songs fantastically clear and crisp (including some tracks that were originally recorded in mono), the set also features a wonderful booklet overflowing with information and pictures. The history of every song is described in great detail, the date and source of Judy's recorded version is given, and a short but remarkable description of Judy's vocal style and musical genius introduces the collection. While many of the tracks are familiar from Judy's original Capitol releases, a number of previously unreleased songs make Judy Garland: The One and Only a box set to treasure. The first CD, In the Studio, offers selections from five of Judy's six Columbia studio albums (songs from "The Letter" were omitted because, as explained in the accompanying booklet, that album should be heard in its entirety). This is the Time of the Evening, While We're Young, Carolina in the Morning, Danny Boy, and A Pretty Girl Milking Her Cow are taken from 1955's "Miss Show Business." The more somber recordings of Last Night When We Were Young, April Showers, Dirty Hands, Dirty Face, and Memories of You come from the 1956 album "Judy." The exquisite 1957 album "Alone" is the source of the songs By Myself, Me and My Shadow, Little Girl Blue, and I Get the Blues When It Rains. From 1958's "Judy in Love" comes Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart, I Hadn't Anyone Till You, and More Than You Know. 1960's triumphant "That's Entertainment!" is the source of the title track of the same name, Down With Love, Old Devil Moon, and I've Confessed to the Breeze (I Love You). The final two tracks (both of them vibrantly emotional gems) Hello Bluebird and I Could Go On Singing (Till the Cows Come Home) are taken from the soundtrack of Judy's last film, 1963's I Could Go On Singing. Disc Two, At the Footlights, centers on Judy Garland's unparalleled concert career. The power and intensity of Judy's voice was never as evident as it was during her live performances. She made each concert a unique emotional experience for each person in attendance, and here is to be found Judy Garland at her very best. Her first live album, "Judy at the Grove" (recorded on August 6, 1958) included the famous Garland Overture and When the Sun Comes Out; this box set release marked the first official release of Day In - Day Out, I Can't Give You Anything But Love, and the complete version of When You're Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You) from that concert. The incomparable Judy at Carnegie Hall, Judy's best-selling, Grammy-winning concert album from 1961, provides four of its slower, jazzy songs for this collection: Who Cares (As Long As You Care For Me), Puttin' on the Ritz, How Long Has This Been Going On?, and Just You, Just Me. Hey, Look Me Over; Joey, Joey, Joey; and The Party's Over are taken from Judy's ill-fated and unreleased Broadway album (Judy performed the songs beautifully despite a case of laryngitis), several songs from which were later released in 1989 on the album "Judy Garland Live." The next four tracks are mono recordings from Judy's weekly variety show of 1963-64 (and were later included on the 1964 album Just For Openers). As Long as He Needs Me, More, and the show's closing theme song Maybe I'll Come Back are wonderful, but Judy's rendition of Battle Hymn of the Republic, sung in tribute of the recently assassinated President Kennedy (despite misgivings on the part of CBS) is especially powerful. The remaining six tracks are taken from 1965's "Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli Live at the London Palladium." 18-year-old Liza joins her mother on the medley We Could Make Such Beautiful Music Together/Bob White (Whatcha Gonna Swing Tonight) and Don't Rain On My Parade, while Smile, Just in Time, Make Someone Happy, and Comes Once in a Lifetime are truly magical Judy solo performances.Disc Three consists of the famed London Sessions recordings, all made over the course of three days in early August 1960. These tracks include studio versions of many of the songs Judy would delight audiences with in her 1960-61 concert tours in Europe and America. These are fantastic recordings, only six of which (Lucky Day, the medley Judy At the Palace/Shine On Harvest Moon/Some of These Days/My Man/I Don't Care, Happiness is a Thing Called Joe, It's a Great Day For the Irish, You'll Never Walk Alone, and I Happen To Like New York) were released in Judy's lifetime (on the 1962 album "The Garland Touch." The rest of the songs saw a limited release ten years later, but Judy Garland: The One and Only marked the first digital release of the complete London Sessions recordings. As I said, this is my favorite Judy Garland box set by far, as it represents Judy at her very best. Judy was happier and healthier during her legendary concert tours and studio sessions of the early 1960s than ever before, and even her pre-1960 Capitol recordings are among the most impressive of her career. This is a magical three-disc set of 65 songs that should never be out of stock because no Judy Garland fan's personal collection is complete without Judy Garland: The One and Only."