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Original Recordings 1936-1949

NAXOS NOSTALGIA 8.120563 [62.36]



  1. The Trolley Song - 21st April 1944
  2. Stompin’ At The Savoy – June 1936
  3. All God’s Chillun Got Rhythm – August 1937
  4. You Made Me Love You – September 1937
  5. It Never Rains But What It Pours – August 1938
  6. In-Between – July 1939
  7. Figaro – October 1939
  8. Oceans Apart – October 1939
  9. Swanee – July 1939
  10. Friendship – April 1940
  11. I’m Always Chasing Rainbows – December 1940
  12. Blues In The Night – October 1941
  13. Poor Little Rich Girl - April 1942
  14. How About You? – October 1941
  15. For Me And My Gal – July 1942
  16. Mine – July 1944
  17. There Is No Breeze – October 1946
  18. Aren’t You Kinda Glad We Did – September 1946
  19. A Couple of Swells – September 1949
  20. a. I Love A Piano
    b. Snooky Ookums
    c. When the Midnight Choo Choo – September 1949
  21. Over The Rainbow – July 1939


Having always been a fan of Judy Garland I was delighted to receive this new CD of her singing some of her many successes. Before I listened I wandered back over the years to when I first became aware of her. It was when she and Mickey Rooney were making all those "Andy Hardy" films in the early 1930s. In England we were seeing more and more films from America, especially musicals. Around fifteen years old, going to the cinema on a Saturday night was my big night out (but home by nine o'clock, of course) and I seem to have seen a lot of her then. Being an avid reader of film magazines, I soon discovered even more about her. I learned she would have been about ten when she first starred with Mickey Rooney, but also that she was already well known in America for her great talent. I remembered reading that when much younger she had been part of a sister singing group and it was only after they split up that she was instantly snapped up by Louis B. Mayer for the movies when she was about thirteen. She shared her screen-debut with Deanna Durbin in a two reel short film and later she signed a recording contract. So, there is a lot more to the early Judy Garland than "The Wizard of Oz" as many people today might think.

I think Judy must have been born a star. A lovely, lively girl, she was a joy to watch and to hear. Vivacious and always apparently happy, there was no holding her. She made many records and always sang with a unique enthusiasm that no one could resist. Yet there are quieter songs here that she sings just as well as the up-tempo ones showing what a very sensitive young girl she was too.

In 1936 she recorded "Stompin' At The Savoy" with Bob Crosby's Orchestra. She was fourteen then but even at that age it was possible to hear that this young girl had a voice that had a certain something that would always mark her out. Her recording in 1937 of "All God's Chillun Got Rhythm" came from the film "Broadway Melody of 1938" that, in the end, she stole. No surprise when you hear her sing this old favourite with such an energy and vigour you’ll find it hard to know where she is getting it from. But this was the Judy we were to hear for many years, and one so many would come to love. She endeared herself even more to filmgoers by also serenading a photograph of Clark Gable with the lovely, gentle "You Made Me Love You" in what is now one of her most famous recordings. There is such conviction in this that, even without the film, you can really imagine her having the photograph of Gable in front of her as she sings. As I listened, I must confess that it took me back to the times when I never missed any film with Gable in it and how I would positively drool over him too.

In 1938 she recorded "It Never Rains But What It Pours" from the Andy Hardy film "Love Finds Andy Hardy". I like this song and this version very much and Judy certainly sings it with her customary liveliness even while she tells you how sometimes everything goes wrong. Another great favourite from the same film is "In Between" which tells of always being the sibling in the middle: never allowed to go to dances or have parties. You can really hear the wistful note in her voice here. Then, for a few moments, listen to how she drops her voice and tells you how one day she won't be the "in between" one. Judy was seventeen at the time she recorded this in 1939 and is superbly accompanied by Victor Young's Orchestra too. "Figaro" from "Babes in Arms" was recorded the same year but I can't say I particularly like this song, even though Judy sings it in her happy-go-lucky way and with great gusto. Her versatility was always to be admired and here is an example of her adapting her voice to suit a song very well. Again she is supported by Victor Young's Orchestra who accompanies in the same light-hearted fashion.

Of course it was also in 1939 when Judy starred in "The Wizard of Oz", the film that truly made her name around the world. Her Dorothy singing the never-to-be-forgotten "Over The Rainbow" is one of the greatest moments in movie musicals and, of course, it is on this disc. How could it not be? I saw the film at the Cinema first long ago, and many times since, yet it never dates. It always comes up like a new pin. This is the same feeling I have when I hear this recording of its most famous song and no one could ever sing it like Judy. I remember a journalist once asked her daughter Liza Minnelli if she would ever sing it. "No," she replied, "it's already been sung."

Judy was clearly very busy in 1939 because "Oceans Apart" comes from that year too. This is another example of the Judy's great versatility. It’s a quiet song about lovers being separated by the blue sea and hearts being told they must wait for the dawn when they would be together again. Not one of Judy's better known songs, I think, but she still sings it with feeling as though she means every word and what more can you ask? But then in every song Judy sings she makes good use of the words and puts her own interpretations into how they should be sung and that is what makes her singing so special. I particularly liked how Victor Young's Orchestra came in with the refrain, making you feel this is a perfect song to waltz to.

At nineteen Judy married the British born American bandleader and composer David Rose and it was also around this time it became known she was having psychological problems. Not really surprising when you consider how, at such an early age, she became the focus of all the attention with the demands of work. We now know the fuller story of drugs and other excesses but in spite of all this Judy continued to further her career with radio broadcasts as well as movies. That same year 1940 she recorded "Friendship" with Johnny Mercer and together they make this catchy little number into something bigger than it really ought to be. It could be classed as a comic song and yet it isn't, because it does tell the story of true friendship so well. In December 1940, and accompanied by her new husband, Judy recorded "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows". I love this song and have heard it many times over the years but, once again, no one sings it quite like Judy Garland. Maybe there is a hint of self-mockery here in that, by that time, she was so well known for chasing rainbows. I have always wondered what was in Judy's mind as she sings most of her songs because I always felt she was singing to me.

"For Me And My Gal" comes from "Babes on Broadway" in 1942 and is a duet with Gene Kelly who starred in the movie with her. What a great song this is and what a fine arrangement by David Rose. I especially like the opening with chimes cueing in Judy who sings to Gene that she was going to tell him what the bells were chiming for. It's such an easy number to remember and I'm sure it will go on being as popular for many years. So easy for someone to sit at a piano and casually tinkle about on the keys and pick out and the notes. "How About You" from the same film is also on this disc.

In 1943 after separating from David Rose Judy starred in "Meet Me In St.Louis" and from that is the evergreen "Trolley Song" which became another instant hit. It's also a song when I, for one, immediately remember the film that went with it and I don’t think I am alone.

Judy sang at different times with so many well known stars, that it should come as no surprise that she recorded with Bing Crosby. Here we have from 1944 the song "Mine" and the two of them sing, as you would expect, in perfect accord. Each making sure they tell each other of their feelings but I confess this is not a song I have heard before and, after listening three times decided it wasn't for me.

Around 1945 Judy married the Chicago-born film director Vincent Minnelli who directed her in the movies many times, even in straight roles. But Judy was soon back in musicals. In October 1946 she recorded "There Is No Breeze" with Gordon Jenkins's Orchestra. I have never heard her sing this number before. In fact it’s a song I have never heard anyone sing before. When the orchestra comes in I feel they are a little too loud but it's a pleasant enough song, I suppose. However, in spite of Judy's singing I'm not really surprised it hasn't lasted down the years. But I loved her duet with Dick Haymes of Gershwin's "Aren't You Kinda Glad We Did" recorded in the same year and accompanied again by Gordon Jenkins. It's a delightful song delightfully sung and I must say I’m still tempted to ask, as I did then, what did they do?

The same applies to another duet, this time with Fred Astaire and it is of course Irving Berlin's "A Couple Of Swells" from "Easter Parade" in which Judy and Fred were brilliantly teamed together in 1948. Most people will be able to see Judy and Fred in their mind’s eye dressed as two tramps. In fact Judy is with Fred Astaire in a melody of three more songs on this CD and these provide, for me, one of the real highlights of this disc.

Judy came to such a sad end but no one listening to this new CD will detect any signs of her personal problems in her marvellous singing. Perhaps her truest friend over the years was Mickey Rooney. A year or so ago I heard an interview with him. When asked about the circumstances of Judy's death in London his reply was to the effect that he believed if he had he been able to get to her then, he may have been able to help her. When asked if he had ever thought of marrying her he replied that you never marry a good friend because you lose that friendship if you do. How very true that is.

This is a great disc and I can recommend it warmly. This is an excellent choice of songs that really represent Judy Garland. We have to thank Naxos for their continuing excellent work in making it possible to hear old 78 records being enhanced by the new technology and Peter Dempsey especially for his excellent work.

Joan Duggan