mercredi 28 mars 2012

Harold Arlen - A Star is Born (1954)

EM/f.PC/LP 0032
Real. George Cukor
Mus. Harold Arlen
Lyrics: Ira Gershwin
Dir. Mus. Ray Heindorf

LP CBS 31695 - Stereo (UK, 1978)

Side 1.
1. Gotta Have Me Go With You (Arlen-Gershwin) 
    Int. Judy Garland (2:44)
2. The Man That Got Away (Arlen-Gershwin) 
    Int. Judy Garland  (3:39) 
3. Born in a Trunk (Gershwin) 
   Int. Judy Garland (14:12) 
   Medley containing : 
  (a) I’ll Get By (Turk-Ahlert) (b) You Took Advantage of Me (Hart-Rodgers) (c) The  BlackBottom (DeSylva-Brown-Henderson) (d) Peanut Vendor (Sunshine-L.W.Gilbert-Simons) (e) My Melancholy Baby (G.A. Norton-Watson-E.Burnett) (f) Swanee (Caesar-Gershwin)

Side 2.  
1. Here’s What I’m Here For (Arlen-Gershwin) 
    Int. Judy Garland (3:09) 
2. It’s A New World (Arlen-Gershwin) 
    Int. Judy Garland  (2:41) 
3. Someone at Last (Arlen-Gershwin) 
    Int. Judy Garland  (6:42) 
4. Lose That Long Face (Arlen-Gershwin) 
    Int. Judy Garland  (3:56)

Notes Back Cover
For the out-and-out Garland fans, "A Star is Born" remains, forever, her finest single achievement of the many successes she chalked up via the silver screen. Typical of the Garland-Club. Sephton, who considers Judy's performance, musically as well as acting-wise, her very best. "She was so moving, yet at the same time so funny", he says. "Vocally, she was at her peak. Female vocalists of her age-she was about 32 at the time of making the film - are usually considered to be at their peak. And certainly, Judy was at her peak during 'A Star is Born'! You've only to listen, again, to her singing The Man That Got Away - my personal highlight from the film - to appreciate this. Of course, the music was just right for her, written by someone who had worked with her-most successfully-on previous occasions".
It says much for the perennial popularity of 'A Star is Born" that since its initial release in 1954 it has been re-released at regular intervals. This situation seems hardly likely to change in the future. Thankfully, too, the soundtrack album - including the two "lost" Garland numbers-has proved to be well-nigh indispensable. Thus, the uniformly excellent musical sounds to be found within this sleeve are available now for the fourth time. Proof-if indeed proof were needed-that Garland's singing, like the praiseworthy Arlen-Gershwin score, retains its quality of timelessness and overall excellence.
The two best-known Garland performances from the film are, of course, The Man That Got Away and Born In A Trunk. Frankly, the latter is nothing less than pure kitsch. Aside of a wholly convincing vocal from Judy, it is saved from complete anonymity by the clever interpolation of snippets from the standards I'll Get By, You Took Advantage Of Me, The Peanut Vendor, My Melancholy Baby, and Swanee. (Incidentally, the person responsible for the spoken command - "Play Melancholy Baby!" - is no less a personage than the one-and-only Humphrey Bogart. Originally, Bogart, who had become most enthusiastic about the film during its production- as well as about Judy's personal contributions-was one of an incredible short-list of possible choices to play Norman Maine. The others ? Marlon Brando, Henry Fonda, Gregory Peck and Cary Grant). The Man That Got Away remains the individual musical stand-out from the film. A tasty muted trumpet, together with Judy's wordless vocal introduction, leads into a performance which must rank with any of the lady's entire career. Tenor-sax, clarinet and piano, in turn, add their sympathetic obbligati as Judy unfolds the song's sad, sad story. Apart from projecting the lyric of this superior torch song with devastating conviction, she builds to a series of climaxes before the restrained, almost wistful, final bars.
Soothing strings provide a suitable backdrop for It's A New World. Judy sings the delightful Gershwin verse with a fetching tender quality. The refrain, in comparison, is more gutsy and emotive. Judy sings her heart out during this latter section of the song. Proving that it isn't necessary to go over the top in order to convey the joyful, exhilarating message implicit in the lyric. Rather, Judy's singing here is memorable as much for its sensitive under-statement as for its emotional content. The best singers, we are told, are invariably superb actors. A fact which this extraordinary entertainer proves, most expressively, during the finely constructed Someone At Last. Her spirited rendition of a woefully neglected song is a further admirable definition of her vocal art. Assisted by a mixed vocal chorus, she sings-act the lyric in truly inimitable way. A brash big band, and what appears to be an all-male back-up vocal group, is present during a joyful Gotta Have You Go With Me: one can scarcely hope for a more freewheeling, carefree example of her singing than this...
Of special interest-as much because of their absence from the film's actual soundtrack - are Lose That Long Face and Here's What I'm Here For. For the latter, strings act as a perfect complement to what is, technically speaking, Judy's finest vocal outing of all the items from 'A Star is Born'. Emotionally, too, there is little or nothing at which to complain. More jazz-tinged big-band accompaniment, together with some choice Basie-type piano work, helps Judy to make Lose That Long Face yet another winner. If her reading of the song's verse is fine, then her delivery of the refrain is exceptional.
So much more to write about the contents of this LP. Not necessary. Just slip the record from its inner sleeve, place carefully on your turntable, then assail your ears - in the nicest way... it won't be long before you'll want to repeat the same procedure... again, and again..

**The author of these notes wishes to acknowledge the help of Ken Sephton (Garland Club) and writer Ron Haver.

- Stan Britt

2 commentaires:

madamebarbie a dit…

je suis étudiante et travaille sur Bernard Herrmann. Est il possible de vous contacter par mail pour une ou deux questions?? Merci

jesi k a dit…

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