"This is quite a major addition to the movie musical soundtrack field and a vast improvement on the previous A Star Is Born CD from the late 80's. The sound on the glorious instrumental tracks are stunningly sharp and clean. Garland's vocals have never sounded stronger or more powerful, with the climax at the end of "Born In A Trunk", always so emotionally strong, here defies belief. I feel as if I am listening to Garland's molten lava vocals for the first time! The three additional unreleased vocals are a pleasure, especially the infinitely moving "It's A New World" alternate take. Possibly my favorite new addition is the full, complete band intro to "The Man That Got Away". It just sets the scene with such excitement, listening to that glorious melody as we await Garland's explosive yet perfectly controlled vocals. When singing at a loud level, Garland never ever resorts to screaming or detracting from the musical line. She truly was one of the greatest singers of all time.
This latest version of the Garland ASIB soundtrack is a total winner and worth the long wait for its release."
Joel D. Arndt | University Heights, OH USA | 05/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Warner Brother's A Star is Born was an instance when the stars lined up perfectly literally and figuratively to create a cinematic masterpiece that deservedly grows in stature through the years. In light of today's era of megaplexes and kiddie/teen-oriented action/adventure movie fare, A Star is Born is adult entertainment with a capital "A". An intelligent screenplay by Moss Hart, wonderful performances by Judy Garland, James Mason, etc., excellent direction by George Cukor and a marvelous new score by Harold Arlen, Ira Gershwin and Leonard Gershe augmented with Rodgers and Hart and Gershwin standards, this movie couldn't disappoint and doesn't visually or musically. One cannot discount the contributions of Garland's then husband Producer Sid Luft for bringing this incredible talent pool together in the first place.
The same superlatives may be said about Star's outstanding soundtrack which has been meticulously restored for its newest release. When Star made its CD debut in 1988 the sound quality blew me away at the time and now in its latest incarnation it does so again. While the 26 tracks have been assembled from disparate sources they are all cleaned up and balanced beautifully. From the initial thunderous strains of the Overture to the heavenly chorus swelling at the end this soundtrack is a winner from start to finish.
All of the unforgettable Garland vocals are here in their entirety including three previously unreleased selections. A beautifully rendered nearly a capella version of It's a New World is a standout. Garland's voice has rarely been better than here from her powerful, definitive version of The Man That Got Away to the tenderness of It's a New World to her comedic turn in Someone At Last to the soaring heights of the finale of Born in a Trunk which will send chills up your spine, give you that "little jab of excitement" or however you want to characterize that feeling. Also, the 25 second instrumental introduction to Gotta Have Me Go With You has been restored.
Not to be overlooked are the wonderful background orchestral cues chosen for this release. The Warner Bros. Orchestra conducted by Ray Heindorf, as was the entire score, is in top-notch form here. The instrumental selections stand up very well on their own. If you're familiar with the film it's easy to visualize the action occurring on screen as the background scoring is powerful in and of itself.
A couple of side comments-
First, why was this release delayed almost a year? It's original release was to be June 2003, then earlier this year. Were there technical issues or was Sony/Legacy's release slate too heavy at the time? If it was delayed for the film's 50th Anniversary there is no mention of it.
Secondly, Warner's was not known for saving their film's prerecorded music of the classic era as Metro did, so where did the background music cues surface? Were they in the Sony/Columbia vaults or were they part of someone's private collection? Neither question is answered in the liner notes.
Regardless, this is a great CD. My congratulations to CD reissue Producers Didier Deutsch and Darcy Proper and to everyone else who was involved either directly or peripherally for putting together this wonderful reissue of an American classic. This is a must-have CD if you're a Garland fan, classic movie lover, for those who enjoy great music or for anyone who appreciates superb musicianship. Paraphrasing a line from the film, this CD will be "just dandy" until the next round of digital improvements takes place. My advice is to buy A Star is Born immediately as it'd be "a bargain at double the price"."
ICING ON THE CAKE FOR 50TH ANNIVERSARY
Bill Budris | Cranford, NJ United States | 05/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though it isn't mentioned anywhere, the Garland A STAR IS BORN is celebrating it's 50th Anniversary this year, and this new complete soundtrack now issued on CD adds so much to the celebration. Ever since the 1983 restored version of the film, it has become one of my all-time personal favorites. Once put on DVD, I purchased it with great delight & attempted even to obtain the later Deluxe Box set, as it was advertised this "complete" soundtrack was to be included. Lo and behold, it was not. My prayers have paid off, as here it is in all of its brilliance. The mono and stereo tradeoff on certain tracks does not take away anything from the performances, particularly with the advancements in Digital Recording since the first CD issue in 1988. It is wonderful to have the underscores superbly conducted by the great Ray Heindorf. Judy's performances are top notch, as they have been since the original release. The artwork is great, as it is a photo created for an LP box made in 1954 that was tied with pink ribbon (I saw one once in a Collector's shop). The bonus tracks are very necessary, especially the Shampoo Commercial. Granted, it is from an acetate & not the greatest sound quality, it is fitting, as 1950's TV sound was sometimes just as crackly, so it could be as if you were watching the commercial on TV as Norman & Lola were when Norman discovered Esther's voice again and rescued her from poverty. If you want a clear version of the commercial, play your DVD, even if it is not the complete track while Esther is making the commercial, and while it is on Norman's TV.Kudos to all involved in getting this soundtrack in this spectacular version released. Judy, Ray and all those that have gone on are smiling down from above. Dieter, John Fricke, Michael Feinstein's contribution and all other's efforts shine in this production. Not to be missed by anyone, Garland Fan or casual soundtrack listener."
A Star Shines Brighter Than Ever!
Nicholas Edwards | Belchertown, MA United States | 06/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Truly, the soundtrack re-issue that this film has always deserved. The 1988 album was a faithful rendering of the original optical elements, but
made for choppy listening because it presented effects as well. This new
disc (as other reviewers have pointed out) is a seamless amalgamation of album and soundtrack elements. But, most importantly, the dramatic ATMOSPHERE of the film is presented in a musical narrative for the first time. Ray Heindorf and Skip Martin's underscoring and arranging skills
leap to the fore - the Warner Bros. Orrchestra is beautifully recorded and balanced in performances of superbly dramatic and evocative cues.
And the source cues, too! Things I never dreamed we'd ever hear on disc - the overture and Wild West music for the Shrine Auditorium benefit (not to mention the complete intro to "Gotta Have Me Go With You"); the
rhumba band at the Coconut Grove; more of that wonderfully warm-sounding small combo at the Downbeat Club - some splendid LA cats,Babe Russin, Buddy Cole et.al., regular pinch-hitters at Warners, heard most notably here and in Kazan's "Streetcar Named Desire". We BASK in their sound: we get every one of their moody 32 bars on "Man That Got Away" in A-flat, before they modulate up to C and Judy comes in.
Then we get them playing "Cheatin' On Me", an old Lew Pollack number, which is delightful; and lastly the beautifully apposite music of the post-premiere scene at the Mocambo: the band plays the Johnny Green standard, "Easy Come, Easy Go". The gist of the lyric to the song is, as you may recall: "Let's part as friends, just as we met. As it came, let it go" - which, more or less, is exactly what Norman tries to tell Esther,
as he has with so many others. This is what I mean about dramatic atmosphere in the film's music: the perfect choice of mood. This wonderful new disc allows us to savor the long arc of this picture's
many, varied moods. Didier Deutsch and Darcy Proper have out-done themselves with this one. I can only urge you to pick it up if you have
any interest in musicals, Judy Garland, or film music, period."