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Those glorious MGM musicals

One of my more weird hobbies is the music of the old MGM musicals or other, old-fashioned mucicals. Out of curiosity I bought a best of collection and was quickly hooked. The spirit, the passion and intriguing melodies quickly grabbed me and provided endless hours of pleasure. After that I started to watch some of the old movies and my favourite became The Wizard of Oz. It also introduced me to Judy Garland and the next years was hunting for CDs of her. In the mean time I found another excellent collection: Musical Wonderland. Many big hits can be found on the 2 CD edition and if the publisher wouldn’t have restricted himself to at most one song per musical, it would have been the ultimate collection.

Some months ago I got interested again in the old musicals and rented some of the old movies. It was a slight disappointment. Music and dancing were great but the plot – oh my gosh. And if I have to see Gene Kelly’s stupid grinning again, I don’t know what I will do. This almost spoiled Brigadoon for me, the wonderful song Almost like being in love turned into trivial nonsense by the clownish grin. Fortunately it was the only bad scene in the movie.

I was surprised that nowadays it’s no big deal anymore to get the old MGM musicals on DVD. This wasn’t the case 5 years ago – only the most popular movies were available. It would be interesting to know how many fans are really out there…

Finally I decided that the old movies, with some exceptions, don’t do it for me. Instead I looked for good soundtracks and made a funny observation: songs got recycled in different musicals. I was caught by surprise when I bought Anything Goes (the Lincoln’s Center 1987 recording) and recognized some of the popular songs. Hmm… 🙂 This brought another light on my quite old best of collections. They really contain the cream of the cream with not many songs missing and I stopped hunting down more CDs. Soundtracks can be nice but I am not a big fan of the instrumental passages, which can easily consume half of a CD…

I must confess that the old songs still give me a thrill when I listen to them. It’s different from today’s music, of course, and sometimes really old-fashioned, but it has something that all good music must have: passionate singers who bring out the soul of the songs.

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