Various Artists

Capitol Sings, Vol. 13: Over the Rainbow - Harold Arlen

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The 13th volume of the Capitol Sings series of compilations concerns itself with Harold Arlen, who collaborated with label co-founder Johnny Mercer on eight of the 20 songs heard here, among them the opener, "Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive," which is Mercer's own hit recording from 1944. (The set closes appropriately with Arlen's performance of the same song.) That turns out to be the only original hit on the disc, though Judy Garland recordings of two of her signature songs, "Over the Rainbow" and "The Man That Got Away," turn up in later renditions, as does a version of "Blues in the Night" by Dinah Shore, whose 1942 record on Bluebird was a hit. Indeed, the compilers seem to have avoided familiar Capitol recordings of Arlen tunes, passing over, for example, Louis Prima and Keely Smith's version of "That Old Black Magic" in favor of Margaret Whiting's, then skipping Whiting's hit version of "Come Rain or Come Shine" to include one by Peggy Lee. Of course, the recordings that are really missed here are those of Frank Sinatra. Capitol must not have the right to anthologize Sinatra's work with the label; otherwise, it's hard to imagine we'd have Louis Prima's comic but slight reading of "I've Got the World on a String" or Lou Rawls' "One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)." That said, Capitol's formidable roster of classic pop singers proves an excellent group of interpreters of the bluesiest classic pop songwriters. Like the other volumes in the series, Over the Rainbow is an effective survey of Capitol's vaults of the '40s, '50s, and '60s.

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