Windam Hill Records (01934-11424-2)
Release Date: 2001
|3.||Once & Again||3:36|
|5.||Sketches of Topanga||5:34|
|7.||New York / Melting Pot||4:34|
|8.||Room With A View||5:03|
|13.||West Wing Suite||3:33|
|14.||West Wing - Main Title||0:50|
|Total Album Time:||56:12|
|by Dan Goldwasser
February 28, 2001
W.G. Snuffy Walden is one of the hardest working composers in television today. He currently has over ten television shows airing this season, and has worked on over 30 shows since the late 1980's. Beginning with the classic "thirtysomething" and moving up through "The Wonder Years", "Roseanne", "I'll Fly Away", "Ellen", "My So-Called Life", "The Drew Carey Show", "Sports Night", "Felicity", "Providence", "Once and Again", "The West Wing" and most recently "Three Sisters", Snuffy has proven himself to be a versatile composer for both drama and comedy. Also a solo recording artist, Snuffy's guitar work was well received, and he eventually got a job scoring "thirtysomething". The rest is history. This new album is not a compilation of themes and music from his shows. Rather, they are new pieces based on themes and ideas from the shows that take the music to the next level, as a pure music listening experience.
The album opens with a soothing guitar-based piece (actually, almost all of the pieces are guitar-based) called "Angela Smiled", which is inspired by Claire Dane's character on "My So-Called Life". The music is light and airy, and features a small ensemble containing a string quartet, guitar, piano, bass, and percussion. "Once & Again", "Felicity's Theme" and "thirtysomething (revisited)" are new interpretations of the original themes, and flow wonderfully as standalone pieces (rather than the short 30-second television versions). A dramatic cue, "Sketches of Topanga" is a rather melancholy cue, featuring a full orchestra and Snuffy on guitar. "Eugene's Ragtop" is a bluegrass type of number, with two guitars and percussion. All of the tracks feature Snuffy on guitar, and many of them also include guitarist Dean Parks accompanying. The performances of these two guys are just great, and it really adds to the listening experience knowing that this is high quality work.
"New York / Melting Pot" is an exciting piece, and is immediately contrasted with "Room With A View", a more low-key and relaxing number. "Big City" is another up-tempo cue, with a great memorable theme. If it's based on one of Snuffy's shows, I'll admit to being at a loss as to which one. The final track is "Alone", a tender and intimate solo piece performed by Snuffy that ends with a little "whew"! Two bonus tracks are included as well, from the hit show "The West Wing". The first one is a suite of music from the show (no interpretation here - this is a full orchestra conducted by Pete Anthony), and the second is the "Main Title". It's stirring and dramatic, and evokes images of Americana and evokes images of Aaron Copland.
This is a wonderful album that showcases some very talented musicians, and one very talented composer. If you haven't seen any of the shows mentioned above, don't worry. This isn't a soundtrack in the literal sense (except for the "West Wing" cues at the end), so you won't feel left out. As a purely musical listening experience, this album does everything right. It even runs the right length - just under an hour. If you have no idea who W.G. Snuffy Walden is, then by all means, get this album and find out. If you think you know who he is, you should get this album and rediscover him for yourself.
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