On March 25, 1969, Judy Garland took the stage at Copenhagen's Falkoner Centret for a concert in which she was joined by Johnnie Ray as the opening act and an orchestra under the direction of Tony Osborne. Garland weighed a mere 90 pounds but her physical frailty was no impediment to her delivering a concert packed with classic songs, newer additions, and an abundance of authenticity, emotion, and heart. Sadly, the Copenhagen performance was to be Judy's last-ever public concert. Less than three months later, on June 22, 1969, she died in London at the age of 47. Now, the High Definition Tape Transfers label is bringing this poignant show to a variety of high-res digital formats as well as on compact disc.
The Final Concert in Copenhagen doesn't present a sad portrait of an ailing Garland but rather a snapshot of one final triumph. Her set, from the first notes of the majestic overture through the final moments of a beautiful "Over the Rainbow," thrills - and never more so than in this new restoration. The release has been sourced from two sets of original mono tapes. One recording is the set of tapes prepared by Danmarks Radio for the station's subsequent airing of the show (tapes now in the collection of Garland historian Lawrence Schulman). The other recording was made by the Falkoner Centret itself (with that tape now privately owned by John H. Haley at Harmony Restorations). These tapes have been transferred at 352.8 kHz/24 bits by engineer Robert Witrak and restored by Haley for this first complete release of the concert including every song performed and Judy's onstage chatter.
Garland's enthusiasm throughout is infectious. Her opening song, "Get Happy," was imbued with a playful spontaneity from an artist whose performances were famously in the moment. She revisited old favorites for an appreciative audience (a forceful "Just in Time," world-weary "The Man That Got Away," spirited "Chicago," jolly, clap-along "San Francisco," and a touchingly childlike and vulnerable "Over the Rainbow") and also captivatingly showcased the newer material in her repertoire (a gutsy ballad reading of Ron Miller and Orlando Murden's Motown staple "For Once in My Life," a brassy take on John Meyer's "I'd Like to Hate Myself in the Morning") to great effect. If the voice occasionally let down Garland, Garland never let down her audience. She powered through the concert with sheer gusto and an inspirational fervor.
This release premieres her duets that night of "Till the Clouds Roll By" and "Am I Blue?" with Johnnie Ray. The veteran singer, pianist, and rock & roll pioneer (1927-1990) best known for the chart-topping "Cry" had served as the best man at Garland's wedding to Mickey Deans on March 15, 1969 - ten days before the Copenhagen date - and joined her on tour. While his dramatic style was a good match for Garland's own heart-on-her-sleeve sound, Ray was relatively subdued for his charming duet with Judy of "Till the Clouds Roll By." Their mutual affection in evidence, they went on to trade verses of "Am I Blue?" before joining their voices together to bring the song to a big, brash finish. Ray accompanied himself and Garland on piano for both tunes.
The Copenhagen show has been issued on CD in the past including, most recently, on Doremi/Hallow's 2015 release Swan Songs, First Flights: Her First and Last Recordings sans the Johnnie Ray duets. This sonically-upgraded presentation features new liner notes by Lawrence Schulman and also reprints a period review from Svend Kragh-Jacobsen. It's available as a hi-res download in 24/352.8 DXD PCM FLAC, DSD128 Direct Stream Digital, DSD64 Direct Stream Digital, 24/192 PCM FLAC, and 24/96 PCM FLAC formats, as well as on standard CD (16-bit/44.1 kHz). All formats are available now, directly from High Definition Tape Transfers.
Judy Garland, The Final Concert in Copenhagen (High Definition Tape Transfers, 2022)
- Overture (4:18)
- Get Happy (Ted Koehler-Harold Arlen) (3:54)
- Just in Time (Betty Comden-Adolph Green-Jule Styne) (2:51)
- The Man That Got Away (Ira Gershwin-Harold Arlen) (5:00)
- I'd Like to Hate Myself in the Morning (John Meyer) (3:45)
- For Once in My Life (Ronald Miller-Orlando Murden) (3:33)
- Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody (Sam M. Lewis-Joe Young-Jean Schwartz) (2:37)
- Over the Rainbow (Orchestral Inerlude) (E.Y. Harburg-Harold Arlen) (2:21)
- Chicago (Fred Fisher) (5:25)
- Till the Clouds Roll By (P.G. Wodehouse-Jerome Kern) - Duet with Johnnie Ray (2:53) (*)
- Am I Blue? (Grant Clarke-Harry Akst) - Duet with Johnnie Ray (3:57) (*)
- San Francisco (Gus Kahn-Bronislaw Kaper-Walter Jurmann) (3:28)
- Over the Rainbow (Orchestral Interlude) (E.Y. Harburg-Harold Arlen) (2:16)
- Over the Rainbow (E.Y. Harburg-Harold Arlen) (3:17)
(*) previously unavailable commercially