To be sure, you have to be a Judy Garland and/or Mickey Rooney fan to get into these two new releases, but if you are, you're in for a treat.
Capitol's "25th Anniversary Retrospective" is a single CD with 25 numbers showcasing Judy Garland's one-a-kind talent. The title refers to 25 years since the late artist gave her final performance (it's been more than 70 years since her first).Included are studio and live-concert pieces as disparate as "Get Happy," "San Francisco" and, believe it or not, "Purple People Eater." (The latter also benefits from a hilarious introductory verse that comments on the proliferation of monster movies at the time.)
To be sure, there are Garland's signature tunes, "Over the Rainbow" (from the "Wizard of Oz" soundtrack) and a knockout version of "The Man That Got Away" (a studio cut), along with duets featuring Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Mickey Rooney and Garland's daughter, Liza Minnelli (the latter being a "Hello, Dolly!" variation, with the twosome saluting each other). My favorites, however, are the gentle love songs, "Just Imagine," "How About Me?" "I Am Loved" and "It Never Was You," delivered with Garland's unique, always compelling style.
In addition, a 50-page booklet discusses the history of each song.
"Mickey & Judy: The Judy Garland & Mickey Rooney Collection," on the other hand, is an ambitious four-CD boxed-set, each disc devoted entirely to soundtrack cuts from a different movie: "Babes In Arms," "Strike Up the Band," "Babes On Broadway" and "Girl Crazy." (Would you believe 126 cuts in all?)
As we have come to expect from the Turner/Rhino collaborations, there are plenty of alternate takes, outtakes and instrumental pieces that include main title medleys, transitions and incidental music. But the real highlights remain the familiar songs - "Where or When," "Embraceable You," "Fascinating Rhythm," "Good Morning," "How About You," "Our Love Affair" and the three-part novelty number "Opera vs. Jazz," among too many others to list.
The booklet here is a real treat also, 58 oversized pages featuring eight color pages devoted to post-er, sheet music and magazine-cover reproductions.
RATINGS: four stars (* * * * ), excellent; three stars (* * * ), good; two stars (* * ), fair; one star (* ), poor, with 1/2 representing a higher, intermediate grade.