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Judy In Love

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  • For his second LP assignment with Judy Garland (following 1956's Judy), arranger/conductor Nelson Riddle planned a contrast to her previous outing, the melancholy Alone, an album of torch songs made with Gordon Jenkins in 1957. As its title suggested, Judy in Love was the antithesis, a collection of songs that celebrated the state of infatuation. It was actually a challenge for a singer who excelled at melodramatic exhortations and could certainly belt, but was well past the ingnue stage and had never been particularly bubbly. Riddle began by recasting Garland's old favorite "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart" (which she had been singing since 1938) as a typical '50s hard swing number, then reversed engines to turn "I Can't Give You Anything but Love" (described in Jimmy McHugh's liner notes as the first number she ever sang) into a slow, lazy ballad that prominently used vibes and a flute to solo around the singer. The vibes returned on a slow treatment of "I'm Confessin'" later on the album, and elsewhere Riddle took advantage of the cha cha craze to underlie several songs with Latin percussion. The choice of three Cole Porter songs -- "I Am Loved," "I Concentrate on You," and "Do I Love You?" -- wisely oriented the set toward a sophisticated, effervescent attitude, allowing Garland to render the material from an emotional distance. That might seem like an odd approach for a record concerned with love's early stages, but it was appropriate coming from a 36-year-old singer with considerable and well-publicized baggage in the romantic department. Without saying so directly, Garland and Riddle were recontextualizing these interwar love songs (only one dated from after 1940) as statements of mature passion. Released late in the year, and with Garland temporarily off the road, the album suffered commercially, but remains a gem. ~ William Ruhlmann
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