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Over the Rainbow: The Very Best of Judy Garland

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Album Review

Unlike most musical film stars, Judy Garland maintained a healthy career as a recording artist separate from her duties at the film studios. Of course, many of the songs she recorded were ones she also performed in her films. But Decca Records, which had unusually close ties to Hollywood and Broadway, recorded her regularly from 1936 to 1947, and she scored a series of record hits for the label, beginning with her signature song, "Over the Rainbow," in 1939. The 90 masters she recorded for Decca have been reissued often over the years, of course, but this 20-track compilation can claim to be, as the press release accompanying it notes, the first full-length, front-line (i.e., full-price) single CD compilation of the recordings. Included are all of Garland's hits of the first half of the '40s as measured on Billboard magazine's best-seller charts of the period: "I'm Nobody's Baby," the '20s song she sang in Andy Hardy Meets Debutante; "For Me and My Gal," the 1917 song she sang with Gene Kelly in the film of the same name; "The Trolley Song" from Meet Me in St. Louis; "Yah-Ta-Ta, Yah-Ta-Ta (Talk, Talk, Talk)," a novelty duet with Bing Crosby; and "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe" from The Harvey Girls. Also included are her customized version of "You Made Me Love You," which brought her attention in Broadway Melody of 1938; "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart," which she used to audition at MGM in 1935; and three Gershwin songs from Girl Crazy. The result is a reasonable selection of highlights of the Decca material, though one must question the inclusion of two alternate takes (of "Yah-Ta-Ta, Yah-Ta-Ta" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"). A single-disc best-of is not the place to include inferior, if interesting, rarities.


Genre: Classics

Singer/actress Judy Garland had a varied career that began in vaudeville and extended into movies, records, radio, television, and personal appearances. She is best remembered as the big-voiced star of a series of movie musicals, particularly The Wizard of Oz, in which she sang her signature song, "Over the Rainbow." But unlike most other film stars of her era, she also maintained a career as a recording artist, and after her movie-making days were largely over, she was able to transfer her stardom...
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