Judy Henske Big Judy: How Far This Music Goes (1962 - 2004)
- Number of Discs: 2
- Released: January 30, 2007
- Originally Released: 2007
- Label: Rhino Handmade
No Depression - p.86"[These] recordings establish that, from the very start, Henske had the kind of powerful voice that makes you sit up and take notice."
- 1.That's Enough
- 2.Oh Didn't He Ramble
- 3.Nobody Knows When You When You're Down and Out
- 4.Careless Love
- 5.I Know You Rider
- 6.Love Henry
- 7.Salvation Army Song
- 8.Hooka Tooka
- 9.Wade In The Water
- 10.Charlotte Town
- 11.High Flying Bird
- 12.Till The Real Thing Comes Along
- 13.Blues Chase Up A Rabbit
- 14.Other Side of This Life
- 15.Some of These Days
- 16.Hey Babe You've Been Cheatin'
- 17.Let The Good Times Roll
- 18.Bye Bye Blackbird
- 19.Road To Nowhere
- 20.Sing A Rainbow
- 21.Day To Day
- 22.Dolphins In The Sea
- 23.Snowblind Henske, Judy & Jerry Yester
- 24.Lullaby Henske, Judy & Jerry Yester
- 25.Raider Henske, Judy & Jerry Yester
- 26.Rapture Henske, Judy & Jerry Yester
- 27.Lazy Rosebud
- 28.Father of Souls
- 29.Reno Rosebud
- 30.Lullabye Ii (Summer Carol) Rosebud
- 31.Flying To Morning Rosebud
- 32.Yellow Beach Umbrella
Audio Mixers: Bill Inglot; Brian Kehew.
Audio Remasterer: Dan Hersch.
Liner Note Authors: Judy Henske; Barry Alfonso.
Editors: Bill Inglot; Brian Kehew.
Photographer: Jack Carney.
"You're Norma Desmond," says down-on-his-luck screenwriter Joe Gillis in the 1950 film Sunset Boulevard. "You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big." "I am big," Desmond replies. "It's the pictures that got small." Judy Henske, who has spent much of her life living not far from Sunset Boulevard, might make the same sort of argument with regard to the music business, except that she probably wouldn't say it had gotten small; it was never really big enough for her. Big Judy: How Far This Music Goes 1962-2004 is a limited-edition (5,000 copies) two-CD retrospective from mail-order label Rhino Handmade that makes Henske's case for her. No one can dispute that she was big in more than one sense of the word. Standing 6'1," she had a booming voice that drew attention, even if no one seems to have been able to figure out what to do with it. Her acknowledged influences were Sophie Tucker (whose signature song, "Some of These Days," she recorded), Peggy Lee, and Odetta, not such a strange mixture in the early '60s as it might have come to seem later. And she was, in turn, highly influential herself; it seems likely that Mama Cass Elliot and successive Jefferson Airplane singers Signe Anderson and Grace Slick knew every note on her first three albums by heart (the Airplane covered two songs from her repertoire, "The Other Side of This Life" and "High Flying Bird"), and Bette Midler (who recorded Henske's song "Yellow Beach Umbrella") built her own persona out of the one Henske introduced a decade earlier. That said, she was something of an anomaly in her earliest days. Although she was as likely to sing a blues number or a show tune as a folk ballad, she got lumped in with the folk revival after performing with Kingston Trio member Dave Guard's Whiskeyhill Singers and then signing with folk-oriented Elektra Records. This collection looks back before then, to when Henske, after arriving from Chippewa Falls, WI, was playing clubs in Los Angeles and recorded her first single, "That's Enough"/"Oh Didn't He Ramble," for the tiny Staccatto Records label under the auspices of Jack Nitzsche in 1962, the A-side casting her as a pop/rock singer in the mold of Connie Francis. Even when she cut the live-in-the-studio Judy Henske for Elektra in 1963, her brand of folk was closer to the folk-blues of Dave Van Ronk than Joan Baez or Judy Collins, and, in fact, with a little polishing she might have moved to more of a supper club style in the manner of her contemporary, Barbra Streisand, who was playing in the same neighborhood of Manhattan at the same time. Certainly, by putting her in dresses and a pageboy wig, Elektra seemed to be more interested in moving her toward a sophisticated pop image, even if her showstopper at the time was the rousing, risqu‚ "Salvation Army Song." After her second Elektra album, High Flying Bird, her manager, Herb Cohen, took her off to Mercury Records for 1965's Little Bit of Sunshine...Little Bit of Rain, but soon after she had begun a long, off-and-on relationship with Warner Bros. Records. This album doesn't contain any selections from her sole solo album for Warner's Reprise imprint, The Death Defying Judy Henske: The First Concert Album, but, more interestingly, it does include a bunch of tracks previously released only on long out of print singles in 1966-1967, several of them arranged and produced by Nitzsche in a style not far from what he had been doing with Phil Spector's Wall of Sound.
Henske had come a long way already from 1962 to 1967, the period covered on disc one, but disc two might as well be by a different artist entirely. Combining with her first husband, former Modern Folk Quartet and Lovin' Spoonful member Jerry Yester, she made the duo album Farewell Aldebaran for Frank Zappa's Warner-associated Straight Records label in 1968, co-writing the material with Yester as well. Then she and Yester expanded the concept into a five-member group called Rosebud, adding keyboardist Craig Doerge (who became Henske's second husband), bassist David Vaught, and drummer John Seiter. They made one self-titled album released in 1971, again filled with appealing singer/songwriter folk-pop. Thereafter, except for the occasional songwriting foray, such as "Yellow Beach Umbrella" (present here in a previously unreleased 1982 demo recording), Henske devoted herself to her family until the late '90s, when she returned to action with the albums Loose in the World and She Sang California. The selections from these discs reveal a performer who has a direct line to the funny, flamboyant singer of the early '60s, even if she has grown older and wrier, particularly on the valedictory unreleased song "Hollywood People" that closes the disc. Along with everything that has come before, it demonstrates that Judy Henske remains, as she was more than 40 years before, ready for her close-up. ~ William Ruhlmann
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