The Soundtrack Factory is a reissue label that specializes in assembling unlicensed albums out of soundtrack material from films that have gone out of copyright in Europe. This one is devoted to Judy Garland, and instead of being called The Quintessential Judy Garland, it might have been called Lesser Known Movie Musical Performances by Judy Garland more accurately, if record companies ever gave such unprepossessing titles to their albums. This is a collection of Garland in the movies, but you won't find "Over the Rainbow," "The Trolley Song," or other movie songs with which Garland is famously associated. Instead, dating back to her first appearance in an MGM short, Every Sunday, with Deanna Durbin in 1936 and continuing up to 1946's Till the Clouds Roll By, the album contains 24 performances of relatively obscure material from ten of Garland's films, much of it specially written for her by Roger Edens or Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown. She can be heard in duet with Durbin on "Opera vs. Jazz" from Every Sunday and in comic intercourse with Fanny Brice (in her Baby Snooks persona) in "Why, Because!" from Everybody Sings (1938). "(Dear Mr. Gable) You Made Me Love You" (from Broadway Melody of 1938), "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart" (from Listen, Darling), and "I'm Nobody's Baby" (from Andy Hardy Meets Debutante) are songs for which she did receive some recognition, and she does get the occasional chance to handle a standard such as Cole Porter's "Easy to Love" (from Life Begins for Andy Hardy) or the Andrews Sisters hit "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen" (from Love Finds Andy Hardy). But the Soundtrack Factory seems to have deliberately excluded anything from The Wizard of Oz, Babes in Arms, For Me and My Gal, Girl Crazy, Meet Me in St. Louis, or The Harvey Girls, all of which Garland starred and sang in during this period to much greater acclaim. No doubt the label prefers to issue separate versions of those soundtracks and not compete with them here. But anyone buying this album expecting actually to hear the quintessential Judy Garland is bound to be baffled, even as fans looking for Garland rarities will be delighted.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann