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Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall [Live At Carnegie Hall]

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Rufus Wainwright 12/4/2007

Review

If Release the Stars displayed Rufus Wainwright as a weary, wannabe expatriate who was (in his own words) "so sick of America," then Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall -- released just seven months later -- shows him falling in love with the country all over again. Few things are as American as the American Songbook, which Wainwright tackles here with energy, camp, and a sly wink. Reprising the entirety of Judy Garland's 1961 concert at Carnegie Hall, he regains much of the momentum that was lost in Release the Stars' slower moments, performing live with a brisk 36-piece orchestra and several family guests. Perhaps there are people better suited to this task than Wainwright, singers who more closely embody the innocence that Garland always seemed to radiate in spite of her growing addiction to booze and Benzedrine. But Wainwright is obviously enamored with Garland -- who, in addition to her role as one of America's greatest female entertainers, has also become an enduring icon in postwar gay history -- and he revels in the glamour and glitz of her 45-year-old set list. These songs hail from a golden era dotted with trolley cars, Cadillacs, and glitzy jazz clubs, an era in which Wainwright never lived but still has the ability to convey. The secret rests in his vocals, which rise and fall between notes with all the smoothness of a slide guitar. Steeped in opera music and Tin Pan Alley tunes, Wainwright doesn't fall prey to the trappings of a contemporary pop singer, but rather comes across as someone much older. He sings in a fail-safe tenor with colorful vibrato, unafraid to tackle several songs in their original keys and rarely, if ever, missing a note. His infrequent mistakes are mostly lyrical or rhythmic in nature -- a flubbed line here, a botched intro there -- and they're met with applause from the audience. So while the performance isn't perfect, particularly toward the end of the show (where, after two hours of performing swing tunes and jazz standards, Wainwright is understandably low on steam), it's still nice to hear the singer in his element, crooning about dinging trolleys and zinging heartstrings with flamboyancy that only he can muster. ~ Andrew Leahey
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Overture: The Trolley Song/Over the Rainbow/The Man That Got Away Rufus Wainwright 4:16
  3. 2 When You're Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You) Rufus Wainwright 3:45
  4. 3 Medley: Almost Like Being in Love/This Can't Be Love Rufus Wainwright 6:11
  5. 4 Do It Again Rufus Wainwright 5:14
  6. 5 You Go to My Head Rufus Wainwright 2:40
  7. 6 Alone Together Rufus Wainwright 3:20
  8. 7 Who Cares? (So Long as You Care for Me) Rufus Wainwright 2:8
  9. 8 Puttin on the Ritz Rufus Wainwright 1:57
  10. 9 How Long Has This Been Going On Rufus Wainwright 5:47
  11. 10 Just You, Just Me Rufus Wainwright 2:2
  12. 11 The Man That Got Away Rufus Wainwright 5:0
  13. 12 San Francisco Rufus Wainwright 4:50
  14. 1 That's Entertainment Rufus Wainwright 2:25
  15. 2 I Can't Give You Anything But Love Rufus Wainwright 8:11
  16. 3 Come Rain or Come Shine Rufus Wainwright 3:55
  17. 4 You're Nearer Rufus Wainwright 1:59
  18. 5 A Foggy Day Rufus Wainwright 2:56
  19. 6 If Love Were All Rufus Wainwright 2:32
  20. 7 Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart Rufus Wainwright 3:49
  21. 8 Stormy Weather Rufus Wainwright 6:44
  22. 9 Medley: You Made Me Love You/For Me and My Gal/The Trolley Song Rufus Wainwright 4:38
  23. 10 Rock a Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody Rufus Wainwright 5:45
  24. 11 Over the Rainbow Rufus Wainwright 4:49
  25. 12 Swanee Rufus Wainwright 1:54
  26. 13 After You're Gone Rufus Wainwright 2:58
  27. 14 Chicago Rufus Wainwright 4:29
  28. 15 Get Happy Rufus Wainwright 3:11

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