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Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall

Playing Judy Garland, Wainwright latches onto solid songs and gets sexy

Since Rufus Wainwright has small interest in contemporary pop music as it is usually defined, it's a relief to hear him essay the show tunes and Tin Pan Alley chestnuts of this tribute album, which reproduces the entirety of a beloved 1961 concert by the ultimate gay icon, Judy Garland. They expand his melodic compass, plus the lyrics are good--even the more obscure numbers are of Ira Gershwin and Noel Coward caliber. Wainwright brings something new to them too--namely, sexuality in the sensuality as opposed to gender-preference sense. Where Judy's greatest charm was the innocence she continued to project in the wake of a lifetime of well-documented booze, pills and romantic travail, Rufus always sounds ready to fall into bed with the objects of his musical affection. That said, Garland trained for a lifetime to sing this material--her pitch and articulation are uniformly superb. The way opera lover Wainwright slides past notes and draws out the final syllables of lines are signatures indistinguishable from tics, and this varied music makes that all too clear.

Rolling Stone, Dec. 13, 2007