HOME MEDIA – Records and CDs
If you’re looking for the the pre-recording scoring sessions, check out the Songs and Score page. This page has copies of all of the re-recording Daily Music Report sheets as well as the surviving sessions. It’s amazing how much has survived. Some in stereo!
Below are the many versions of the Decca Records and MGM Records albums, tapes and CDs.
The Decca Records Album
The first album of songs connected to the film was this Decca Records album, released in 1940. It was not a soundtrack album. The soundtrack album market was still several years away. At this time, it was customary for artists to record studio versions of songs outside of the production of the films. Such is the case with this album.
Judy is featured on only two tracks, her Decca studio version of “Over the Rainbow” which is markedly different than how it’s presented in the film, and a studio version of the deleted “The Jitterbug.” Both were recorded on July 28, 1939. The rest of the songs were recorded on July 29, 1939. On “The Jitterbug” Judy is joined by none other than the song’s composer, Harold Arlen, as The Scarecrow with Bud Lyon as The Tin Man, & Garney Bell as The Lion.
The Ken Darby Singers (along with Arlen, Lyon, and Bell) perform the remaining songs more in the style of the popular radio shows of the day and less like their film counterparts. Additionally, due to the time constraints of the 78 rpm records of the time, the “Munchkinland Musical Sequence” was originally split over two sides. Below, it’s combined into one track.
The inside of the front and back covers featured these images of Judy Garland, Victor Young, “Yip” Harburg, and Harold Arlen along with promotional images from the film.
Listen to the album here:
Over the Rainbow (Judy Garland with Victor Young & his Orchestra)
The Jitterbug (Judy Garland, Harold Arlen, Bud Lyon, Garney Bell with Victor Young & his Orchestra)
Munchkinland Musical Sequence (The Ken Darby Singers with Victor Young & his Orchestra)
Follow The Yellow Brick Road/You’re Off To See The Wizard (The Ken Darby Singers with Victor Young & his Orchestra)
If I Only Had A Brain (Harold Arlen with The Ken Darby Singers and Victor Young & his Orchestra)
If I Only Had A Heart/If I Only Had The Nerve (Bud Lyon, Garney Bell, Harold Arlen with the Ken Darby Singers, and Victor Young & his Orchestra)
The Merry Old Land Of Oz (Harold Arlen, Bud Lyon, Garney Bell with The Ken Darby Singers and Victor Young & his Orchestra)
Although the official release date for the Decca Records album of songs from The Wizard of Oz is listed as March 1940, the album was already being advertised as available for purchase in select stores in September 1939. More ads appeared right before the Christmas holiday. That makes sense, as Decca would want to take advantage of the holiday market. Below are some examples of some of the ads.
In the 1950s, Decca released the Oz recordings on 12″ LP for the first time, pairing them with the label’s Pinocchio recordings. In the 1960s, the LP was re-released in the “enhanced for stereo” form, with the same cover art and the same liner notes on the back. The album was also released on a picture disc, with the Oz artwork on one side, and the artwork of Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket on the other. It came with a simple paper insert, shown here, no liner notes or other information.
The Soundtrack Album
To coincide with the television premiere of The Wizard Of Oz on November 3, 1956, MGM Records released the very first soundtrack album for the film. It featured “Musical and Dramatic Selections Recorded Directly From The Sound Track” which were songs and dialog taken directly from the soundtrack of the film. This was innovative at the time, as the record contained enough dialog and music to seamlessly present the story of the film. Oddly enough, and due to the time constraints of LPs of the time, it did not include any references to the ruby slippers.
The only song missing is “The Merry Old Land Of Oz.” Side two completed the story via more of the dialog track and an edited version of Bert Lahr’s “If I Were King Of The Forest.”
This version of the soundtrack would remain in print, with varying changes in cover art, through 1989 when CBS Special Products released an expanded version on CD to coincide with the film’s 50th anniversary. That CD was in the same “musical and dramatic selections” format as this original MGM LP, although it was expanded, enhanced for stereo, and included the CD premiere of “The Jitterbug” outtake.
In the early 1960s, MGM Records re-released the soundtrack in a newer “deluxe” gate-fold packaging that opened up to reveal photos from the film, a little blurb about the making of the film, and explanations about the tracks included.
What is especially odd about this album is how “Dorothy” in the artwork does NOT look like Judy Garland. The red dress, black shoes, and freckled child’s face look nothing like she did in the film. An odd choice, although it was probably chosen to appeal to children rather than adults or collectors. Excepting international releases and the 1970 Singer special edition, this artwork would remain the cover art until the first CD release in 1989.
An interesting note: Even though Judy Garland passed away in 1969, the text, “Today Judy cannot complete a concert without singing Over The Rainbow” stayed unchanged in the LP liner notes inside the gatefold.
Over the years the cover art changed slightly with the MGM Records logo moving to a different location, the text changing to reflect the format (“electronically enhanced for stereo”), and the catalog numbers changing. But the cover art and the photos and text on the inside of the gatefold stayed the same. The text changed slightly depending on the format. The main image and label shown here are from the early 1960s “duophonic” version. “Duophonic” meant that the records could be played on both mono and stereo record players.
The last appearance was on the MCA “Classics” Soundtracks label in 1985, although by this time the gate-fold was gone and the record was issued as any other normal record at the time, with the same cover and back cover art as the previous versions, but with the MCA Classics logo replacing the MGM Records logo.
1970s “Silver Screen Soundtrack Series” UK Edition
In 1970, MGM Records partnered with the Singer Sewing Machine Company to produce this special edition of the soundtrack. The promotion was for that year’s annual broadcast of the film on TV, which was being sponsored by Singer. It featured new single-sleeve packaging, and a photo book insert (see below).
This rare Spanish edition of the MGM Records version, released in 1972, features fun cover art. The LP was part of a series of MGM soundtracks that included the two Garland compilations that MGM Records had released in the early 1960s. These also featured fun cover art and are shown here. The images link to the Judy Garland Online Discography’s pages with details of those releases.
The soundtrack first appeared on CD on this 1988 release from Japan (first image below). That was followed by a 1989 UK release from EMI Records (MGM’s UK subsidiary) on both LP and CD as well as on CD in Japan. Both CD & LP are shown below. These were, again, copies of the original MGM Records LP version.
In 1989, CBS Special Products released the first expanded version of the soundtrack on CD edition. It was similar to the MGM Records LP in that it also featured musical and dramatic selections recorded directly from the soundtrack of the film, this time “remastered” into another fake stereo sound. The CD was one of a series of CDs the label produced that featured expanded soundtracks of many MGM musicals taken direct from the soundtracks of the films, not from the pre-recording sessions.
As an added bonus, the CBS Special Products CD included the premiere CD release of “The Jitterbug” outtake although it’s not the complete version, the opening verses are missing. On the back of the liner notes booklet was an order form to order a 50th-anniversary souvenir poster, which was a facsimile of one of the 1939 posters.
It was also released in the cassette format. The image below right is the box that housed the CD. At the time, CDs were packaged in what was termed the “long box” format which was meant to make the CDs more difficult to steal. The format was abandoned due to the fact that it was a complete waste of paper.
Listen to the 1989 CBS Special Products CD:
Released in 1995, this two-disc special edition from Rhino Records was the first to present the complete soundtrack featuring audio taken directly from the pre-recording sessions. It was one of the first releases in a new series of remastered and expanded soundtracks of (mostly) MGM musicals that the label released over the next seven years. All of the Rhino releases consisted of previously unreleased tracks from the pre-recording sessions as well as audio derived from playback discs and in some cases, the actual soundtracks of the film.
Many tracks are extended versions and/or outtakes with a special supplemental section featuring more outtakes, alternate takes, and rehearsal recordings.
The complete pre-recording sessions (that we know of) were originally released in 1993 as audio extras on the laser-disc boxed set “The Ultimate Oz” and can be enjoyed here.
The only negative to this set is that the volume and fidelity are unusually low, even for mono. Many of the multiple angles from the recording sessions survive, yet none of the tracks were remastered into stereo. This was because the producers felt it would be too jarring to make the switch from mono to stereo and back. To hear the re-mixed “stereo” version of the score as it was remixed for the 1998 theatrical re-release, check out the single disc “The Story And Songs Of The Wizard Of Oz” featured below.
In 1995, Rhino Records also released a single-CD abridged version of their new Oz soundtrack which included all of the songs and some of the background score. This CD was re-released several times over the years with different artwork, and by different labels.
The first two discs here are the 1995 original single disc CD (below) and the Japanese version (under the EMI label – at left) released that same year. They’re followed by the 1997 reissue which was part of the label’s “WB Kids’ Music” / “Kid Rhino” series, featuring a different design. That’s followed by the 2010 Sony Music release, which was another copy of the original Rhino version, all the way down to the booklet. Only the logos changed. The “Warner Archive” version was released by WaterTower Music in 2012 and then again in 2014 with the official 75th-anniversary logo. WaterTower is the music label owned by Warner Bros. WaterTower has re-released several of the Rhino Records soundtracks. They’re copies of Rhino releases usually with the same artwork and the same booklets.
Unfortunately, none of the newer rereleases have been sonically upgraded. They’re simply copies of the tracks as originally released in 1995, with that low fidelity. All of the pre-recordings are long overdue for a new remastering with today’s technology which is light years ahead of what was accomplished in 1994/1995. Hopefully, Warner Bros. will revisit these recordings, upgrade them, and re-release them as new releases.
After releasing the abridged soundtrack on a couple of single-disc CDs (see above), Rhino Records brought the album back full circle by releasing a new version of the original MGM Records “Musical and Dramatic Selections Recorded Directly From The Sound Track” format with this special edition. This 1998 version included the tagline “Featuring All of the Songs and Dialogue You Love.”
For this version of the story and songs of the film, the label used the newly remixed stereo soundtrack that was premiering with the re-release of the film in theaters for the 60th anniversary (a year early). Although some of it wasn’t true stereo, it still sounded great and was a much better listening experience than previous mono editions.
As a bonus, the CD was housed in a deluxe gatefold packaging complete with a “pop up” page (see below).
Listen to the 1998 “Story & Songs” CD:
In 1999, Rhino Records released this 2-CD set featuring classic MGM film scores from 1936 through 1965, all newly remastered and many making their CD debut.
The suite of music from The Wizard of Oz is a wonderful compilation. It’s the first time these remastered prerecordings were presented in stereo. Listen to the suite below:
After several decades of the Oz soundtrack being released on many CD releases, the vinyl format became popular again thanks to a renewed interest in the now “retro” format.
The Wizard of Oz reappeared on vinyl for one day only, “Record Store Day,” on April 19, 2014. The special green vinyl release included a link and code to download Ray Bolger’s early unused prerecording of “If I Only Had A Brain.” The producers of the LP claimed it was “newly discovered” although it had already been available since 2009. This was also the first time the remastered version of the soundtrack (the “Rhino version” from 1995) was released on vinyl. In 2015, this same version (including the download link) was given a general release but in the standard black vinyl format.
The vinyl format proved to be quite popular. In November 2017, the Cracker Barrel chain of stores featured a red vinyl version. Then in the summer of 2018, WaterTower released a new yellow “splatter” vinyl version, with an updated version of the original MGM Records LP cover art, and in the gatefold format, with a new series of photos on the inside. It was also pressed on high-quality 180-gram vinyl. In 2019 Cracker Barrel released another version, this time with a picture disc.
All four of these vinyl versions are shown below.
The 2014 and 2017 versions included this insert inside the sleeve. Also included was a paper insert with the details about how to download the bonus track version of “If I Only Had A Brain.” For the 2019 picture disc version, the bonus track was included on the LP instead of as a separate digital download.
For the 75th anniversary of the film in 2014, Sepia Records released this wonderful anthology CD. It includes most of the NBC “Maxwell House Good News” radio broadcast preview show from June 29, 1939, which featured the premiere public performance of “Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland.
The CD also presents the complete Decca Records album, highlights from the original 1956 MGM Records version of the soundtrack, Big Band interpretations of songs from the film as released in 1939, and ends with Garland’s 1944 “V-Disc” (“V” for Victory) rendition.
It’s a fantastic anthology, with all of the tracks remastered. It’s also the only CD celebration of the film’s anniversary. The WaterTower soundtrack re-issue on CD & LP was simply copied from the previous releases with an anniversary logo slapped on.
In 1980 Radiola Records released this LP of the Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of their version of The Wizard of Oz. Originally broadcast live on December 25, 1950, this was the only time Judy Garland revisited the role of “Dorothy.” Garland was 28 years old at the time but was still able to sound like a young girl in most of the dialogue, although when she sings “Over the Rainbow” we hear the adult Garland. And there’s nothing wrong with that!
Dorothy – Judy Garland
Hunk/Scarecrow – Hans Conried
Hickory/Tin Man – Herbert Vigran
Zeke/Cowardly Lion – Ed Max
Profession/Wizard – Herbert Butterfield
Glinda – Betty Lou Gerson
Miss Gulch/Wicked Witch – Noreen Gammill
Uncle Henry – William Johnstone
Aunt Em – Ruth Perrott
Mayor – Gil Stratton
Doctor – Charles Smith
Lawyer – Charles Woolf
Guard – Jay Novello
Woman – Marion Richmond
Man – Eddie Marr
Voice – Norman Field
Dog (Toto) – David Light
Intermission Guest – Paula Stone, writer and producer, MGM Radio Attractions
Listen to the complete Lux Radio Theatre version of The Wizard of Oz here: