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The London Studio Recordings 1957-1964
First Hand Records FHR 12


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1. It's Lovely To Be Back In London
2. Lucky Day
3. I Can't Give You Anything But Love
4. Stormy Weather
5. Medley: Judy At the Palace: Shine On, Harvest Moon/Some Of These Days/My Man/I Don't Care
6. You Go To My Head
7. Rock-a-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody
8. Happiness Is AThing Called Joe
9. It's a Great Day For the Irish
10. I Happen To Like New York
11. Medley: You Made Me Love You/For Me And My Gal/The Trolley Song
12. Why Was I Born?
13. Do It Again
14. Come Rain Or Come Shine
15. The Man That Got Away
16. Chicago
17. You'll Never Walk Alone
18. San Francisco
19. After You've Gone
20. Swanee
21. Over the Rainbow
1. Hello Bluebird
2. By Myself
3. It Never Was You
4. I Could Go On Singing
5. The Land Of Promises
6. It's Yourself
7. Maggie, Maggie May
8. There's Only One Union
9. Lucky Day
10. Stormy Weather
11. Why Was I Born?
12. After You've Gone
13. It's A Great Day For The Irish
14. You'll Never Walk Alone
15. It's Yourself
16. It's Yourself
17. The Land Of Promises
18. Maggie, Maggie May
19. Hello Bluebird
20. I Could Go On Singing
21. It Never Was You
22. Please Say 'Ah'!
When she was in London in the 1950s and 60s, Judy Garland often recorded for the Capitol label at Abbey Road studios. Many of those recordings have already been issued in various collections but this double CD is the most comprehensive set of her London recordings yet, although it still omits some alternate takes.
Judy had revived her career by performing as a concert artist on stage from 1951 onwards and through the memorable film A Star is Born (1954). The recordings here date from 1957, 1960, 1962 and 1964 and they capture Judy in fine voice. The recordings have been remastered for top-quality sound, bringing Garland's theatrical style closer to the listener. Judy sings with passionate feeling, throwing herself into every song - even one as trite as the opening It's Lovely To Be Back In London. The song was composed by Judy's long-time associate Roger Edens but it is mawkish rather than touching. It even rhymes "London" with "undone"!
Thankfully, the majority of the songs in this collection are more substantial - and Judy gets the best out of them. Like Billie Holiday, she had a lived-in voice which conveyed a lifetime of struggles and setbacks. In a song like Stormy Weather, she gives the impression of someone who is rising heroically above these pressures.
Of course, there is the inevitable Over The Rainbow and other songs which she made her own, like The Man That Got Away and The Trolley Song. Most of her performances use lots of vibrato for expression, and measured phrasing which takes its time to tell the story in a lyric. I'm not very keen on the raucous show-stopping songs like It's A Great Day For The Irish (another Roger Edens song, which rhymes "Irish" with "inspirish"). Yet Judy rattles them off with conviction. The sheer power of Garland's voice is a cause for wonder, especially at the end of such tracks as The Trolley Song and the two versions of Lucky Day, where she holds the final note for an incredibly long time.
My favourite tracks tend to be the gentler, slow numbers, like the heart-wrenching Why Was I Born? And By Myself, where Judy proves herself an almost unmatched interpreter of song. The latter song was recorded for the soundtrack of the 1963 film I Could Go On Singing, as were all four of the opening tracks on the second CD. The next four tracks come from Lionel Bart's musical Maggie May. The musical was not a success, but you might not guess it from the way that Judy throws her heart into performing the songs.
The remaining tracks (9 to 22) on the second CD are previously unissued tracks - mostly alternate takes but also some snatches of studio conversation. The final Please Say "Ah"! is a comical duet with Saul Chaplin originally designed for Dirk Bogarde to sing with Garland in the film I Could Go On Singing but never used there.
The accompaniments from large orchestras are generally excellent, although there are misjudged passages, such as the inappropriate burping trombones in Come Rain or Come Shine and the excessive volume in Please Say "Ah"! Yet most of these remastered recordings are superb, with great presence.
Fans of Judy Garland will undoubtedly snap up this compilation, elegantly presented in a wallet with perceptive sleeve-notes by Jonathan Summers. But all lovers of fine singing are advised to get this album.
Tony Augarde


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