Judy Garland

Judy Duets/Judy at the Palace

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For what would have been Judy Garland's 75th birthday, Sid Luft Music released the double album of Judy Duets/Judy at the Palace. The set unites 13 duets from CBS' weekly variety show, The Judy Garland Show, and a live concert recorded at the Palace Theater in New York on February 24, 1952. The pairing of the two albums separated by over a decade (the live show was first released by Decca shortly after it was recorded) would be strange if they both weren't important recordings. As with most '60s Judy Garland recordings, one has to be prepared for less-than-stellar live performances. The star of stage and screen was often emotionally overwhelmed, forgetful, and out of breath. If you are prepared for those problems then Judy Duets will stun you. Garland shows no sign of vulnerability or weakness as she holds her own with some of the most important figures in American music. A favorite duet is the one with Bobby Darin, because it is also the most ambitious, attempting 12 songs, including "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe" and "Some of These Days." Other duets include Mel Tormé; Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin; Lena Horne; Peggy Lee; Liza Minnelli; the Count Basie Orchestra; Mickey Rooney; Barbra Streisand; Jack Jones; Ethel Merman; Tony Bennett; and Vic Damone! Overall there are 62 songs in the various medleys. Unlike Frank Sinatra's Duets album, where nearly every song seemed poorly conceived and executed, the songs on this disc all shine. Fans of Barbra Streisand will undoubtedly love their duet, which pairs Judy Garland's signature tune with Barbra's first big hit. (Warning: you might want to turn down the volume while listening to the Ethel Merman duet.) The accompanying concert at the Palace, however, is colored by more histrionics than the made-for-television duets. There are moments in the live show when Garland actually states she is "too old" for performing and seems to laugh at jokes that remain mysteries to the audience. The versions here of "Over the Rainbow" and "Liza" are homeruns which makes up for things a bit. Both discs are worth having, but it is nice to listen to Judy at the top of her game and to forget for an hour or so that her life was complicated and tragic. Overall, the sound quality is fabulous, and both discs contain very important material that thankfully was preserved by Garland's third husband and made available to the public.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
feat: Count Basie
3:24
2 3:06
3 3:22
4
feat: Bobby Darin
8:06
5
feat: Mel Tormé
2:08
6
feat: Jack Jones
7:54
7
feat: Ethel Merman
7:54
8 2:15
9
feat: Tony Bennett
2:57
10
feat: Lena Horne
3:44
11
feat: Peggy Lee
4:43
12
feat: Vic Damone
7:03
13
5:32
blue highlight denotes track pick