This two-fer combines the two LPs Judy Garland recorded with arranger/conductor Nelson Riddle, Judy (1956) and Judy in Love (1958). On them, Riddle attempts with considerable success to turn the Hollywood belter into a sophisticated studio interpreter of songs from the 1920s, '30s, and '40s, on the order of such other clients of his as Frank Sinatra and Nat "King" Cole. The first 11 songs, which comprised Judy, are a mixed selection of titles the singer had not previously been identified with, though they were drawn from familiar sources. Harold Arlen, also the author of the Garland signature song "Over the Rainbow," was called on for three numbers, and there were a couple of titles associated with Al Jolson, a performer whose broad style was continued in Garland's own. But Riddle recast those songs -- "April Showers" and "Dirty Face Dirty Hands" -- as ballads, as if to blunt the singer's usual excesses. The result of holding her thus in check was to make her focus as much on meaning as on feeling, a welcome development. The second 11 songs, which made up Judy in Love, were chosen as a thematic record about the early stages of love, which would not seem to have played to Garland's strengths. But by anchoring the collection with three light Cole Porter compositions and employing subtly rhythmic percussion instruments -- vibraphone, congas -- Riddle gave Garland a platform to redefine the material as referring to a mature sense of romance that had more to do with fulfillment than passion. You might say that the overall result of Riddle's efforts on the two albums was to rein Garland in, but it also gave her a more complex, subtler musical character to play. Maybe that's not the Judy Garland we know and love best, but it is an impressive one.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann