Picks and Pans Review: Over the Rainbow

UPDATED 11/23/1981 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 11/23/1981 at 01:00 AM EST

Susannah McCorkle

Lyricist E.Y. "Yip" Harburg died last March at 82 in a Los Angeles car crash, and he could have wanted no finer memorial than this album of his songs. McCorkle is an East Coast cabaret singer with a subtle jazz sense, and her graceful, unimposing style shapes itself to Harburg's wry, often biting lines. Included are many of the lyricist's most famous tunes: Old Devil Moon, Down With Love and three songs from the score for The Wizard of Oz, which Harburg wrote with Harold Arlen. McCorkle includes the neglected verse to Over the Rainbow—"When all the clouds darken up the skyway/There's a rainbow highway to be found"—and turns the Tin Woodsman's If I Only Had a Heart into a quiet love song. She omits such Harburg standbys as April in Paris in favor of a few more obscure tunes. A couple, including The Begat from Finian's Rainbow, might be better left to obscurity. But most of them are delightful discoveries, especially Harburg's whimsical comment on fleeting fame, Napoleon. It begins, "Napoleon's a pastry, Bismarck is a herring/Alexander's a creme de cacao, mixed with rum/And Herbie Hoover is a vac-u-um."

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