June 22, 2019 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of Judy Garland. Though Garland was only on this earth for 47 short years, she packed that time with incendiary performances on stage, screen, radio, television, and records. That still-singular body of work has been exceedingly well-documented in the years since her death, but remarkably, there's still more to be discovered. JSP Records has just followed up its acclaimed 2010 collection Lost Tracks 1929-1959 with a second volume. Lost Tracks 2: 1936-1967 features 50 tracks on 2 CDs, 40 of which are new to CD. Happily, there are still plenty of thrilling discoveries here to sate the appetite of the most ravenous Garland fan or collector.
The set, compiled by Garland historian Lawrence Schulman (the original Lost Tracks, The Garland Variations, Classic Duets) from audio preserved in private collections, proceeds in chronological fashion following an overture of sorts: arranger-conductor Norrie Paramor's 1959 instrumental Salute to Judy Garland. After the rousing medley, the first disc of Lost Tracks 2 presents an array of recordings from radio as well as from the star's MGM recording sessions from movies including Ziegfeld Girl and Everybody Sing.
The oldest track here, "Waltz with a Swing/Americana," is one of those MGM alternate takes (Take 6) from Garland's 1936 short for the studio, Every Sunday. It's a shot of pure effervescence from the young actress-singer with the precocious pipes. Seven tracks from the Jack Oakie's College radio program from January through June 1937 demonstrate the full range of Garland's talent at this age, from her showstopping rendition of Rodgers and Hart's "Johnny One Note" (which Judy would sing onscreen years later in 1948's biopic of the songwriters, Words and Music) to a comparatively tender but still big-voiced treatment of Irving Berlin's "Always."
Most intriguing is "Hold That Bulldog." While the song is a slight novelty, its backstory is anything but slight. Garland pre-recorded the tune for her film debut in 20th Century Fox's Pigskin Parade, but the song was cut from the movie (if it, in fact, was ever filmed) and the pre-recording has been lost to time. However, Garland performed the song for Jack Oakie's, giving a full taste of what it likely would have sounded like in the film. 14-year old Garland's encore of Johnny Burke and Arthur Johnston's standard "Pennies from Heaven" is even better, epitomizing her vivacity during this period.
Other delectable selections on this disc include a pair of alternate takes of tunes by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed (Singin' in the Rain) recorded for Thoroughbreds Don't Cry, the first Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland film; the alternate Take 3 of the sweet "(Dear Mr. Gable) You Made Me Love You" from Broadway Melody of 1938, one of the icon's most memorable performances; and a plethora of delicious alternates and outtakes from Mickey and Judy's subsequent series of Andy Hardy films such as Roger Edens' tender "In Between" and Cole Porter's moving "Easy to Love." The disc concludes with the boogieing (some might fairly say rocking; the song is one of the first times the word "rock" was used to describe music) "The Joint Is Really Jumpin' Down at Carnegie Hall" from CBS Radio's Mail Call as recorded in 1943, the year the vivacious Garland memorably belted the song onscreen in MGM's Thousands Cheer. Classical pianist-conductor Jose Iturbi accompanied Judy on piano for the performance, as he had in the film.
The second disc is no less chockablock with highlights, covering the years 1943-1967. Many of Garland's most famous songs are here in rare and previously unreleased renditions, among them "For Me and My Girl" (from a Mail Call broadcast), "The Boy Next Door" (Take 7 from Meet Me in St. Louis), "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (Take 6) and "The Trolley Song" (from a Democratic Committee dinner at Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel in 1944). Those intimately familiar with the original versions will naturally savor the variations in interpretation or inflection, but moreover, these recordings from the heartbreaking "Christmas" to ebullient "Trolley" are all enjoyable in their own right. Three fine tracks feature Bing Crosby: Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields' "The Way You Look Tonight" as a straight, not swinging, ballad for a 1944 radio show, and alternate takes of their Decca singles "Mine" and "Yah-Ta-Ta, Yah-Ta-Ta (Talk, Talk, Talk)." Their easy rapport is evident on this trio of duets. Garland is dramatic on "How Deep Is the Ocean" from a 1945 Danny Kaye Show broadcast, and even more confident reprising "Johnny One Note" from a 1948 Kraft Music Hall just a couple of months prior to the release of Words and Music. Garland's voice was changing, and she would take her mature sound to tremendous heights in the decade to come.
Seven tracks here date from the 1950s. One of these delightful rarities is the optimistic "Wishing," composed by B.G. DeSylva for the 1939 RKO film Love Affair and recycled into a 1951 CBS Radio modern-day adaptation of Cinderella featuring Judy. Two unreleased tracks from Garland's triumphant, Oscar-nominated turn in 1954 film A Star Is Born are particularly timely given the popularity of 2018's remake starring Lady Gaga. (Early in that film, Gaga pays tribute to Garland by humming a bit of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow.") Ira Gershwin and Harold Arlen's epic, multipart "Someone at Last" is presented sans the dialogue, sound effects, and chorus, and with a different, utterly bravura ending. A rehearsal of "My Melancholy Baby" is also included. Naturally, "Over the Rainbow" is here, in Garland's famous reading for CBS-TV's Ford Star Jubilee in 1955; Garland's raw vocal makes it perhaps the emotional high point of Lost Tracks 2. She, too, pours heart and soul into "Come Rain or Come Shine" from the following year's General Electric Theatre, supported by Nelson Riddle's hot, swinging orchestra.
Moving into the 1960s, Lost Tracks 2 offers a wonderful Capitol Records alternate take ("Down with Love," from the That's Entertainment! LP sessions) and a number of strong television performances including the moody "Paris Is a Lonely Town" from the animated film Gay Purr-ee as intensely sung on The Jack Paar Show in 1962 and another tour de force, Cole Porter's thunderous "I Happen to Like New York," from CBS' Robert Goulet and Phil Silvers Special of 1963. A delightful treat is Garland's brassy 1966 Hollywood Palace performance of Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "What the World Needs Now Is Love." Due to her untimely death, Garland never had the chance to perform much from what might be deemed the Second Great American Songbook; her rendition of this paean to the power of love is one happy, notable exception. (Though it's not among the gems on this set, Judy also memorably sang Antonio Carlos Jobim's "How Insensitive" onstage in her later years.)
A London rehearsal of "What Now My Love" from 1964 is full-throttle Garland despite the setting; it's followed directly by a fiery television version two years later from The Kraft Music Hall. The set concludes with the stereo version of Andre and Dory Previn's "I'll Plant My Own Tree" from the star's abortive time portraying Helen Lawson in Valley of the Dolls. Written and orchestrated in the Garland style, the lightweight tune plays like a knowing self-parody, sung and arranged with requisite gusto.
Primary restoration engineer John H. Haley has done his customary superlative job bringing sonic consistency and a surprising fidelity to these tracks sourced from various collections. Many of the early tracks, in particular, won't fail to impress in their clarity and immediacy. The packaging is of a piece with previous JSP Garland releases. The two discs each contain a 4-page insert with two pages of notes by Garland scholar Scott Brogan of The Judy Room as well as discographical annotation/credits for each song provided by Schulman. The two jewel cases are housed in a slipcase.
With these 50 varied performances, Lost Tracks 2: 1936-1967 (released in accordance with current U.K. public domain laws) captures the vulnerability and strength, and power and delicacy, of the late Judy Garland. It's another welcome celebration of her enduring artistry from producer John Stedman, compiler Schulman, remastering/restoration engineer Haley, and the team at JSP Records.