Various Artists

Somewhere Over the Rainbow: The Golden Age of Hollywood Musicals

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As part of its pact with Turner Entertainment, which controls the vaults of several of the great movie studios, Rhino Records has issued many compilations of soundtrack material from the movie musicals of the 1930s to the 1960s. Somewhere Over the Rainbow: The Golden Age of Hollywood Musicals is an attempt to present the musical highlights of the Turner collection on a single album, albeit a two-disc set running two and a half hours. Perhaps inevitably, it ends up sounding like a soundtrack album drawn from the series of MGM anthology films of the 1970s under the title That's Entertainment! Annotator John Fricke admits the tracks are "predominantly (though not exclusively) drawn from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer properties," which he claims is "simply because they had the greatest talents to invest in all aspects of their product." Fair enough, although one might add that 20th Century Fox and Paramount had some pretty great talents, too, and none of them are here unless, like Bing Crosby for example, they occasionally made a picture outside their contracted studios that has somehow fallen into the Turner maw. Still, when you are drawing from the MGM, Columbia, and RKO catalogs, you have some great material to choose from. The songs performed by Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, and Gene Kelly, whom Fricke calls "The Big Three," are a given, and they are also overly familiar. More interesting are the performances by less frequently heard singers like Nancy Walker, Jane Powell, and even Ava Gardner (whose voice was dubbed in the 1951 Show Boat, but not here). Taken from primary sources, the tracks appear in better sound quality than you will hear on the endless European gray-market compilations flooding the market. And if there are favorites missing, it's only because it would take more than two discs to do justice to the era.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Singin' in the Rain, film score
1 4:53
2 2:29
3 2:48
The Band Wagon, film score
4 3:29
Kismet, musical (after works by Alexander Borodin)
5 5:34
6 2:42
Gold Diggers of 1935, film songs
7 4:56
Get Happy, song (used in "9:15 Revue")
8 2:48
9 4:28
10 3:05
11 2:50
They Can't Take That Away from Me, song (from Shall We Dance?, film)
12 4:33
13 3:05
Neptune's Daughter
14 4:44
For Me and My Gal
15 4:21
Puttin' on the Ritz, song (from "Puttin' On The Ritz")
16 0:55
Hit the Deck, musical
17 3:48
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, film score
18 2:30
Cabin in the Sky, musical
19 4:21
As Time Goes By, song
20 2:45
Doctor Zhivago, film score
21 2:39

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
The Wizard of Oz, film score
1 2:45
2 1:17
3 3:15
4 3:24
Going Hollywood, film score
5 0:40
Meet Me In St. Louis, film score
6 4:03
7 3:03
8 8:04
Aba Daba Honeymoon
9 3:13
10 2:45
The Best Things In Life Are Free (from Good News)
11 11:45
12 12:45
A Kiss to build a dream on (from The Strip)
13 13:45
Put 'em in a box (used in the film "Romance On The High Seas")
14 14:45
15 15:45
16 16:45
17 17:45
18 18:45
19 19:45
The Harvey Girls, film score
20 20:45
21 21:45
blue highlight denotes track pick