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Kevin Krock, editor

Music CD Reviews

Julie Andrews Selects Her Favorite Disney Songs
(2005) | Length: 43:36| ASIN: B00092ZLJE | Reviewed July 12, 2005 by Stephanie Wien, staff writer
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The Review

First things first: This album is a compilation album. Julie Andrews does not sing, except in the songs she originally recorded for Mary Poppins. She has picked her 15 favorite songs from Disney films, and all the songs are the versions as sung in the various films by their respective voice actors.

With that detail out of the way, this is indeed an excellent compilation of Disney songs, from older classics like “Baby Mine” from Dumbo, all the way up to “You'll Be in My Heart” from Tarzan. Julie Andrews seems to be particularly fond of Lady and the Tramp and Mary Poppins, as the album includes two songs each from both films.

The liner notes include brief text for each song, indicating why Andrews chose each particular track. Of the track “Bella Notte” from Lady and the Tramp, Andres writes: “One of my favorite scenes from Lady and the Tramp has to be the moonlit Italian dinner shared by Lady, the love-smitten cocker spaniel, and Tramp, a mutt from the wrong side of the tracks. Sharing endless strands of spaghetti marinara while being serenaded by a singing waiter, it's classic Disney… and simply charming.”

The song selection tends toward the various ballads from the recent films, so the album has a fairly mellow sound to it. There aren't too many uptempo songs, creating a nice, relaxing listening experience for everyone. You might even use it as background music for putting your little ones to sleep.

One change I might have made to the track listing would be the selection of “Circle of Life” over “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from The Lion King. “Circle of Life” has more emotional punch, better reflects the feel of the film's African setting, and immediately brings to mind the film's breathtaking opening sequence. But, this album is Julie Andrew's favorites, not mine; I'm sure many of us have our own favorite compilations we could compile if we were asked.

The Final Evaluation

Some of the older tracks reflect the limitations of their original recordings, with some hiss and other noise. However, the overall sound quality is excellent. If you don't already have all the songs on CD, I highly recommend this compilation. It's a great cross section of the Disney film-music catalog and is sure to please Disney and Julie Andrews fans alike.

Disney Wishes!
(2005) | Length: 54:09 | ASIN: B00092ZLLC | Reviewed July 12, 2005 by Stephanie Wien, staff writer
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The Review

Disney Wishes! is a compilation album, and proceeds from the album's sale benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation (link). The album was released to celebrate the 50,000th Disney theme park visit granted to a Make-A-Wish child.

When I first glanced at this album, I was not looking forward to listening to it. In general, I am not a fan of the pop versions of Disney songs. I especially loathe remakes of classics. One example of this is the remake of “When You Wish Upon a Star” as sung by Disney teeny-bopper-pop-icon-du-jour, Jesse McCartney. The song has been covered many, many times over the years and his version brings nothing new to the table.

The majority of the songs on the album have been released on previous Disney albums. “Make a Wish” is a country ballad celebrating the Make-A-Wish Foundation, tending toward the maudlin. “Wishes” is the pop version of the song used in the new Disneyland fireworks show, Remember… Dreams Come True; I much prefer the version that appears as part of the music that accompanies the fireworks and appears on the six-CD anniversary set (link). The inclusion of tracks from The Tigger Movie and Disney Princess: The Ultimate Princess Collection made me raise an eyebrow; these tracks are definitely not destined to become classics.

The few highlights of the album include Tony Bennett's swinging version of “The Bare Necessities” and a wonderfully emotive version of “Baby Mine” by Better Midler accompanied by a single piano. I also enjoyed “You'll Be in My Heart” and “You've Got a Friend in Me” but both of these tracks are the same as you'd find on their respective film soundtracks.

The Final Evaluation

If you are tempted to buy this CD because it benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation, I would suggest you give your $15 directly to them. That way you skip the middleman and you can also take a tax deduction.

Disney's Happiest Celebration on Earth
(2005) | Length: 1:18:08 | ASIN: B00092ZLKI | Reviewed July 12, 2005 by Stephanie Wien, staff writer
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The Review

Another title for this CD might be “50th Anniversary Album Lite.” This CD is an extremely pared down version of the six-CD anniversary set (link) that is available at the theme parks or through Disney Direct. It's even shorter than the two-CD version that is available at the theme parks, which also includes some music from Disney's California Adventure park.

One song that is included on this album that is missing from the larger set is the LeAnn Rimes song “Remember When.” While a good song, I am not inclined to give this CD a tip toward the positive on the merits of this single song alone.

The album itself benefits from the huge amount of effort that went into restoring all of the historical Disneyland music and sounds for the larger set, so the sound quality is excellent. The atmospheric sounds provided on the six-CD set are largely absent from this album, and the listener loses the immersive experience.

Anyone looking for a complete ride experience will be disappointed with this album. The tracks for attractions such as The Enchanted Tiki Room, Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion are all only excerpts, containing the signature songs and highlights. The tracks do not contain the full ride-through experience that is contained on the six-CD version.

The Final Evaluation

Anyone looking for a highlights album will likely be satisfied with this album. It's also nice that this album is more widely available, being sold everywhere that Disney Records titles are sold. Having sampled the whole cake, however, it's hard for me to settle for just licking the spatula used to frost it.

Best of the Muppets Featuring the Muppets' Wizard of Oz
(2005) | Length: 30:50 | ASIN: B0009AJK98 | Reviewed July 12, 2005 by Stephanie Wien, staff writer
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The Review

Disney seems to be doing its best to kill the Muppets franchise that I grew up loving. Their latest TV movie The Muppets' Wizard of Oz was uninspired. The lackluster songs from that offering make up the first six tracks on this CD. Ashanti's vocal talent is clear in the tracks on which she sings, but the songs themselves aren't the catchy tunes we expect when viewing a movie with the Muppets. We expect songs like “Movin' Right Along” and “The Rainbow Connection.”

The other tracks on the album will appeal to fans of “old school” Muppets. Who doesn't love “Mahna Mahna”? You can drive people crazy with that tune, and go on for hours and hours. I bet you're singing it in your head right now… It epitomizes the silly fun that the Muppets represent to many of us. “The Rainbow Connection” swings in the other direction, showing the emotional range that made Jim Henson's Muppets so special.

The Final Evaluation

If you are looking for a Muppets compilation, you'd be better off buying the soundtrack to The Muppet Movie or “The Muppet Show: Music, Mayhem and More – 25th Anniversary” CD released in 2002. That way you can listen to classic Muppets without having to skip over the first 6 tracks each time.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Stephanie here.


TRACK LISTINGS
Julie Andrews Selects Her Favorite Disney Songs
  • Beauty and the Beast – Beauty and the Beast
Disney Wishes!
Disney's Happiest Celebration on Earth
Disney's Happiest Celebration on Earth
  • Happy Feet – Kermit and the Frog Chorus
ABOUT THE EDITOR

Kevin “Doc” Krock is been a long-time animation buff and home theater fan. He's been following the rise of the DVD format in the home market since its introduction, and he hopes to help you make the most of your family's home theater viewing time and video collections.

You can contact Kevin here.

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