|This artwork is from a later reissue of the 1940 Decca sides.|
|Decca's Wizard of Oz cast album from 1940|
To add further authenticity to the Decca recordings, the vocal arrangements were done by Ken Darby, who also worked on the film, and Oz songwriter Harold Arlen portrayed the Scarecrow on at least one track. The orchestra, meanwhile, was led by Victor Young, a multi-talented, Chicago-born violinist, composer, and conductor who worked on such films as Shane, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Paleface, and many others. Decca's Oz album, which has been dubbed a "pre-soundtrack" even though it came out after the movie, contained eight tracks spread out over four discs, plus a six-page foldout brochure and stills and photos explaining the plot of the film. From the photos I've seen, it's a pretty deluxe package and a neat souvenir. For a mere $12,500, you can own Judy Garland's personal copy, if you so desire.
|A reissue of the Decca material.|
Happily, this little slice of Wizard of Oz history has not entirely vanished from the Internet. All eight tracks are available on YouTube to those who go looking. What's especially interesting about these recordings, apart from the participation of Garland, Darby, and Arlen, is that many of the tracks feature newly-composed introductions. Just as in the movie, the songwriting credit on the album only goes to Harold Arlen and E.Y. "Yip" Harburg. Perhaps the original composers wrote these new sections themselves. It's certainly possible. Additionally, there are segments of "Muchkinland" on the album that are sung rather than spoken as they are in the film. In those cases, the melodies match those from the demo recordings made by Arlen and Harburg during preproduction on Oz. That suggests to me that perhaps the songwriting duo was more heavily involved in the Decca sessions and may well have written those new intros. In any event, it's a nice little footnote to movie and music history.