Thursday, November 29, 2012


Judy Garland never treated life or work like it was a dress rehearsal. 
For Judy,  it always had to be a full out, no holds barred performance, with encores!

And that spirit, and sense of joie de vivre, can be heard on the latest Garland release from 
First Hand Records,
JUDY GARLAND The Amsterdam Concert December 1960.

The concert took place just after midnight on December 10, 1960, and because of the specialness of the occasion it was broadcast on Holland's public radio station, which got permission from the government to stay on the air past it's curfew (for the first time) to accommodate this late night performance.

The late hour might also explain Garland's extra relaxed demeanor during the concert. She seems devoid of nervousness or fear here, and instead, just seems happy to be there, singing, joking, chatting up a storm, having a good time, and taking the audience on a remarkable journey through her legendary songbook.  Judy is feeling so frisky she even pokes gentle fun at the off stage commentators, much to the delight of the crowd.

The singing is, in a word, wonderful. Whether Garland is singing the driving, pounding, constantly building Come Rain Or Come Shine, the aching, sultry and steamy Do It Again, or a spirited march like It's A Great Day For The Irish, she gets her message across with limitless energy, flawless intonation, impeccable phrasing, and as her son, Joe Luft, calls it, "that voice." 

The highlight of the concert for me is when the orchestra takes five and "that voice" 
is accompanied only by David Lee's solo piano. 

I've grown used to hearing Judy with piano players who offer sympathetic and gentle musical support, her work here with Lee is different. He is heard in the forefront with Garland and their songs together almost sound like duets. Each has their own style, yet they play brilliantly off of one another.

Hearing these tracks made me yearn for a Judy Garland/David Lee voice and piano studio album.

For this release FHR was able to obtain the original mono masters, 
as recorded by Dutch radio for a later rebroadcast.
The remastereing by Debs Spanton gives the listener as much of a "you are there" feeling as possible, and the result is a very happy aural trip back to the crystal clear mono world of 1960.

The generic looking cover opens up to reveal FHR president
David Murphy's attractive, and photo rich, booklet design.

Notes are by producer Jonathan Summers, who eloquently tells the story of Judy's journey from near death in late 1959, and being told she would never work again, to that amazing year of 1960 where she beat all the odds and reinvented herself as the worlds foremost concert artist.

Since this concert was Judy's gift to Holland I thought the Dutch should have the last word,
so I turned to a friend of mine, who happens to be one of Holland's up and coming music stars, and he succinctly and accurately summed up the concert as "magisch."

And that pretty much sums up Judy Garland as well, ever enduring, and always "magisch."

To Order or download JUDY GARLAND The Amsterdam Concert December 1960
please visit the First Hand Records website by clicking HERE

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