Walt Disney Records (61380-7)
Release Date: 2005
|1.||Beauty And The Beast||2:42|
|2.||Mary Poppins Medley||4:19|
|3.||Cruella De Vil||2:44|
|6.||When I See An Elephant Fly||2:57|
|9.||Can You Feel The Love Tonight?||3:50|
|10.||A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes||4:24|
|11.||Some Day My Prince Will Come||3:10|
|13.||When You Wish Upon A Star||2:29|
|Total Album Time:||44:31|
|by Matt Brennan
October 17, 2005
I consider myself a Jim Brickman fan: I have a few of his earlier albums, and have seen him in concert a few times in Hartford. But recently, I've found that his albums are beginning to go in the commercial direction that John Tesh's did... maybe in a few years we'll be hearing about the Jim Brickman Project. I liked Tesh when he was playing his own music, but the more he collaborated and put his musicianship in the background, the less his work interested me. Brickman seems to be following this path. This Disney Songbook CD feels to me like a commercial rather than artistic/musical release and I wish he would go back to recording himself playing his own music, with any collaborators just to back him up, and have maybe a song at the end for the radio.
This collection, or Songbook, is a 13 track album of Brickman's interpretations of Disney songs. Some reviews have found his style a refreshing face-lift to these classics, and I agree in general that Brickman's style works, is unique, and shows through on this album. His versions of "Beauty and the Beast", "Reflection" from Mulan, and "When You Wish Upon a Star" are clearly Brickman's while remaining true to the original song, and this works very well. Beyond these three tracks, however, I found the album somewhat of a disappointment.
First, there are two original songs on it: "Beautiful", sung by Wayne Brady, and "I'm Amazed" with Lila McCann on vocals. But the album is a Disney Songbook, so where do these tracks fit in? They aren't Disney songs. Second, I am disappointed by Brickman's song selection. "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" is not a song meant to be played on a piano, and this version seems forced into the style and thus becomes almost unrecognizable as the original song. The more recent of Disney's musicals have been, in my opinion, the high point of Disney's music with composers such as Alan Menken, Elton John, and Stephen Schwartz writing the songs. But Brickman's album only contains three, one from each of these composers (and The Lion King's "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" falls short of the song; if you want a great rendition of it, try James Galway's). Menken composed music for six Disney movies, all of which contain several songs worth rerecording that would work well on piano. Where is "Colors of the Wind" from Pocahontas? The radio version even begins with a keyboard, and it's one of the best songs written for any movie (regardless of the film's quality). Musically, The Hunchback of Notre Dame is one of the richest of all of Disney's movies. The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and yes, even Hercules contain songs that would sound great on a solo piano, but these didn't make this album. What's on the album is decent with a few strong tracks, but Brickman ignored a deep musical history and instead recorded a forty-five minute album with two of his own songs.
Bottom line: if you like Brickman and his recent work, you'll probably find this a pretty good listen. But it's nothing extraordinary. For fans of Menken's work and Brickman's compositions, buy their albums. Disney songs have been redone well plenty of times – Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops, James Galway – so look into those first; this album doesn't quite hold up.
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