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"Range" is a Terrific Final Soundtrack

Discussion in 'Archive' started by Rich T., Mar 27, 2004.

  1. Rich T.

    Rich T. New Member

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    Disney fans, prepare to bawl your eyes out: The "Home on the Range" soundtrack is a CD with serious Disney tear-jerker moments, even more so given the non-future (for now) of classic Disney animation.

    Yes, it's great. It contains some of Alan Menken's best work, and features a couple of the Best Disney Songs Ever. Give it a try even if you claim to "Hate Country Music," because it isn't Country, it's Cowboy (there's a difference) and pop. And it's gonna make you cry. Uh-huh. Guar-ran-teed. Of course, if you also "hate" Frontierland, Big Thunder, Davy Crockett, horses, other animals and beautiful movie scores...well, in that case, maybe you won't enjoy this.

    The rest of you, you're in for the wildest ride in the wilderness.

    Spoilers ahead: Proceed with caution.

    First, the songs. Man, there ain't a dud in the bunch. We've got a wonderful theme/narration song, a great "happy times" song, the best "sad" song in Disney history, a great (and *weird*) villain song, a snappy closing credit pop number and another song that I'd probably like better if it weren't overshadowed by the others.

    "You Ain't Home on the Range" is pure fun, simultaneously poking fun at westerns and celebrating their energy and sense of adventure. It serves as a terrific overall theme for the film and gets even funnier in the reprise.

    "Little Patch of Heaven" is gonna make Disney fans grin, sounding very reminiscent of "What a Happy Day" from Fun & Fancy Free. Light, joyful, and very effective in the finale. Contains one of my all time favorite lyrics as it sings of a place where...

    Even the 'skeeters and the fleas
    Say "May I" "Thanks" and "Please"

    If you're a big-time Disney animation fan, this song is going to tear you to pieces emotionally in the finale...I'll explain why toward the end of this review.

    Now for a song that there'll be no middle ground on: You're either going to love or hate "Yodel-Adle-Eedle-Idle-Ooo." Guess which camp I'm in. This is just so freaking wonderfully weird. Apparently actor Randy Quaid sang the first syllable of every yodel, but had a "stunt yodeler" take over for the bulk of the vocal gymnastics. During the bridge, we get a great surreal yodeling medley of "William Tell Overture" "Yankee Doodle" and "Ode to Joy." The non-yodeling lyrics are, again, hilarious and weird -- and just slightly disturbing (*four* references to the size of the villain's butt?!?)

    Until now, I'd list the best "sad" Disney songs as "God Help the Outcasts," "Feed the Birds," "Endless Night" and "If She Can't Love Me." There's a new "best" sad song, and it's "Will the Sun Ever Shine Again." Wow, does this push all the right buttons. Bonnie Raitt doesn't overdo it vocally, she elegantly lets the song speak for itself. Music and lyrics combine to evoke a touching, poignant portrayal of someone in the depths of complete despair. Its beauty keeps it from being depressing and its simpleness keeps it from being corny. Like "Feed the Birds," it's about as perfect and beautiful as a song can get. If good songs were Uranium, this thing would power China.

    Good thing the "You Ain't Home on the Range" reprise steps in to give you a chance to dry your eyes.

    "Wherever the Trail May Lead" is a fine song with a beautiful melody and a catchy chorus. (And, okay, *this* one's a country song). There's nothing wrong with it, it just loses a bit of effectiveness coming so soon after one of the greatest songs ever written, and it pretty much offers the same message found in the final song...

    "Anytime You Need a Friend." My only nitpick about this soundtrack is that this and the preceding song express the exact same sentiments. This is an excellent, upbeat closing credit number, one that won't make me try to claw my ears off.

    Oh, there's also a hilarious seven-second-long "Saloon Song" in which some overaged dance hall girls sing in gravelly voices:

    "Swivel Your Hips
    Give 'em a Grind
    Shimmy and shake
    and leave your troubles behi - (SHRIEKS and SCREAMS)

    We also get Alan Menken's solo rendition of "Anytime You Need a Friend." It's excellent and adds a nice personal touch to both the CD and Menken's career at Disney.

    THE INSTRUMENTAL SCORE

    Menken's brilliant, and this score plays smooth as silk. It's amiable, emotional, and paints huge landscapes of adventure and wonder in your head. It evokes classic western movie scores along with the likes of "City Slickers," but has its own unique "Disney" flavor, with the song melodies woven effectively throughout.

    Lots of unexpected, brilliant touches. The villain's ghostly yodel echoing across the plains, heralding disaster...The classic folk song "Home on the Range" played by a lone trumpet (a wild west "Taps")...banjos and tubas moving playfully in and out of the landscape. Great, great stuff.

    I'm anxious to see the movie now because I can't wait to see how the film's jokey comedy is balanced by the deep, heartfelt emotions of this score which turn even the funny songs' tunes into epic adventure music.

    Some movie scores don't provide a completely enjoyable CD listen, but this one stands on its own two feet. It's pure, non-stop fun.

    THE FINALE

    I mentioned earlier how the finale is going to emotionally tear apart Disney animation fans. Here's why:

    Keeping in mind that this is the *last* classic animated film from Disney, here are the final lyrics as the movie ends and we leave that last Disney fantasy landscape....

    Darling I Swear
    Once You've Been There
    There ain't a view beneath the blue
    That could ever compare...

    Why don't you come visit
    There's room in the nest
    On that little patch of heaven
    Way out west

    As someone whose life has been happily enriched and energized by the talents of Disney's artists over many years, I find it hard to believe that it's over (at least for now.) The magic of the films will last forever, and I'll always keep that joy inside me (you all know what it's like if your reading this. It's powerful stuff!) Disney magic is nothing more nor less than the pure joy and wonder of a well-told tale. It's not unique to Disney, but Disney produced it more consistently and with more talent and imagination than any other single studio in history. And having all the characters, music and worlds under one "roof" created something greater than the sum of its wonderful parts. There's nothing wrong with computer animation, but it's NOT THE SAME animal.

    We'll see what happens next. Maybe someone with a brain will bring theatrical hand-drawn animation back to Disney someday. But, if this is indeed the last classic-style animated film, at least they're going out on a sweet note.

    - Richard
     
  2. Cpt. Aargh

    Cpt. Aargh New Member

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    Just bought the Sing-along DVD for my family. So far, so good - I really like the three songs from the film that are included. You're right about the yodeling song - I love it, my wife hates it (she refers to it as the "Cows on Acid" song).

    We're very, very sad about this being the last traditionally drawn film from Disney. What incredible short-sightedness on the company's part.
     
  3. X-S Tech

    X-S Tech Active Member

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    Well I wasn't nearly as blown away with the soundtrack as you were, Rich, though I did think it was good. Did you see the film? Sounds like most of your observations are pretty dependent upon seeing the movie, an advantage I don't have.

    I think that this is a good strong soundtrack on it's own. I don't think that it stacks up very well against Menken's other work, Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, etc... if only because the theme and subject matter seem so much more trivial (cows and land deals, as opposed to princes and true love in faraway kingdoms). But yes it's a very good soundtrack.
     
  4. Rich T.

    Rich T. New Member

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    Glad you like the soundtrack, even if you didn't go as bonkers over it as I did. :)

    Haven't see the whole film yet, so my reaction is based on these factors: 1) I'm a Disney Animation Freak 2) I'm a big fan of Menken's work 3) I love the Wild West as a setting for *anything* 4) I've pretty much spoiled the plot for myself by reading (devouring, actually) the film's making-of art book "Adventures of a Bovine Goddess."

    Even so, I'm going pretty much on how the score effected me on its own. Three of my favorite CDs of all time are "Pops Roundup" and the two Eric Kunzel/Cincinnati Pops CDs, "Round Up" and "Happy Trails." There's something about that particular orchestral sound associated with epic westerns that really grabs my imagination like nothing else except....Disney at its best.

    I think Menken's done a great, playful & imaginative tribute to the genre. There's a rolling "smoothness" I find in western scores that makes this one more enjoyable to me as a CD listen, even without the songs. That, of course, is purely subjective.

    Even though there are no princesses or kingdoms in this film, I don't find the subject matter any more trivial than Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin. In each story, the most important thing is the personal story of the main characters. Here we have a group of the world's most unlikely heroes setting out to do the one thing that most people would fight for: Trying to save their home, partly to save their own skins and partly to save the human who's been so kind to them. So there's no cursed prince here, but, hey, cows have feelings too! :)

    Of course, this *is* a screwball comedy, but the music so far indicates to me that there'll be plenty of emotion involved, all set against the fantastic backdrop of the mythological version of the Old West.

    Of course, I'll eat my words if the film completely sucks, but it sure looks good so far! I've read a few positive advance reviews...Got my fingers crossed.

    BTW, I completely agree with what you said in the soundtrack release date thread: However one feels about the subject matter, everyone should try to see it this weekend to support hand-drawn animation!
     
  5. X-S Tech

    X-S Tech Active Member

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    By the way,

    Please buy a copy of the Home on the Range Soundtrack instead of downloading it. Wait until you've seen the film and decided whether you like the music if you must but show your support in the only way Disney understands...cold hard cash.
     
  6. David S.

    David S. Member

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    Thanks for the insightful review, Richard! :)

    For what it's worth, I really enjoyed this movie. Just as I did for Brother Bear, I went on opening day to show support for classic, hand-drawn Disney animation (even risking the chance that the theatre would be packed with noisy hyperactive kiddies).

    And, I liked it enough that I plan on going again before it leaves, just as I went back for an encore of Brother Bear and other movies I've really enjoyed.

    Towards the end I started feeling very melancholy knowing this could be the last time I'd be seeing a new Disney animated film on the Big Screen (and even started tearing up a little). I have seen EVERY single Feature Animation project in theatres during their initial release dating back to my childhood and 1977's "The Rescuers" and "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh"

    It makes me both sad and angry when I think of how these films have survived the depression, world wars, Saul Steinburg's hostile takeover attempt, etc., but they may not survive the shortsightedness, greed, and lack of vision of Emperor Eisner.

    Home On The Range is a very fun, funny, warm, sweet, charming, and touching movie. I liked this one and Brother Bear better than many other recent ones. I guess I've always been partial to the animal stories more than the "prince and princess love stories" - some of my all time favorites are Dumbo, Lady And The Tramp, 101 Dalmatians, The Rescuers, The Rescuers Down Under, The Fox and the Hound, and more recently, Brother Bear (as well as Pinocchio, Alice In Wonderland, Peter Pan, and the two Fantasias, which are also not "prince and princess" stories.)

    Anyway, yes, I agree, the music (songs AND score) is really catchy and entertaining. I particularly liked the catchy "Little Patch of Heaven" and the accompanying animation - very charming. Certainly one of the best animated films MUSICALLY in quite a while!

    Sad that this could be the last when it clearly shows there is still so much potential for the medium. But if it must be the last, I agree, it ended on a sweet note.

    David

    PS. I completely agree, cows have feelings too! Which is why I am very glad that I no longer eat them ;)
     
  7. Rich T.

    Rich T. New Member

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    You know, I can't believe how long it took me to figure out why there are no Happy Meal Toys for this movie! It'd be so....creepy :)

    I just saw the film and loved it. Like you, I enjoy the stories about everyday folk (or critters) a lot. The scene that really got me even more than I expected was the "Will the Sun Ever Shine Again" sequence. Pearl looking at the photo and the empty stalls...The Sheriff looking at the horseless saddle...that kind of scene will get to me every time! That's the emotional heart of this movie...You don't hate Alameda Slim because he's trying to take over the land, you hate him because he's inflicting this kind of suffering on good people.

    Another little moment was at the beginning when Maggie's first owner, Abner, rushes out to find all his cattle (and his entire life's work) stolen. That was heartbreaking, and it was only on screen for a few seconds! This movie goes for the small, personal moments for its emotional punches and does it very, very well. How about seeing the auction numbers around the necks of the barnyard animals? One picture's worth a thousand words.

    I'll see the movie again, and enjoy the soundtrack even more, now. I was a bit surprised to find that *two* of the songs were closing credit pieces. They were used really well in the score, though. This is definitely one of my favorite Alan Menken CDs.

    BTW, I had the same feelings about this being "The Last One." Several times I kept thinking "I may never see another hand-drawn Disney film on the big screen ever again." Grrrrrrrrr. Well we got, what, 18 animated features during the Eisner era? That's 18 more than we would have gotten had Eisner not come aboard when he did. Now he needs to steps aside and let someone with any kind of respect for craft and quality take charge.
     
  8. Well, I went to see Home On the Range yesterday. When I got to the theater, the ticket line was out the door and I thought that, with all those kids in line, I'd never get a decent seat. Fortunately for me (and unfortunately for Disney) most of those in line were going to see the Scooby Doo 2 movie. When I entered the theater for Home, it was only about 1/3 full (with more than enough of the little tykes running up and down the aisles).

    I wasn't really all that impressed with the show. It seemed more like a story about people (or in this case, barnyard animals) overcoming their stereotype view of what others are instead of about trying to help "save the farm". The music was interesting, but nothing really stands out in my mind. I didn't leave the theater whistling any of the tunes (a la Beauty and the Beast or The Little Mermaid), but they seemed integrated into the story well enough.

    All during the show, most of the children in the audience seemed restless and were making noise (especially one little brat behind me who kept kicking the back of the chair in the row we were seated in!) By the end of the movie, the noise coming from the restless children was almost as loud as the soundtrack itself (and the aforementioned brat actually stood up and started banging his water bottle on the back of MY chair -- I turned around and asked him "Are you finished!!" He just sat back down quietly for the last 30 seconds of the movie.)

    All-in-all, it was an average film. I didn't notice much reaction from the audience during any comical and/or sad scenes. I'm sure that most of the people there actually don't remember much about the film at all.
     
  9. Rich T.

    Rich T. New Member

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    Yikes, John, what a nightmare - that kind of audience is the reason I rarely go to movie theaters anymore. I had a much better experience with my opening night audience: The theater was about half full - a nice mix of families and couples. Everyone kept quiet and in their seats, there was laughter in the right spots, nice applause at the end, and most of the audience sat through a couple of minutes of the credits! (In other words, all the big Disney fans in town must've been there). :)

    I love Home on the Range, but I do think the story is so small, non-epic and intimate that distractions like an obnoxious crowd could easily shatter the fantasy. Please give it another shot on DVD: It's full of great moments of art direction, characterization and small story details that could easily be ruined by things like...um...some brat hitting your seat with a water bottle! Then again, maybe you just don't like talking cows. ;D

    Ugh, Scooby DOo 2...Disney animation's dead and grotesque CGI atrocities are thriving. Gee, Garfield sure looks like a piece of art, doesn't it? I can't wait until this particular fad is over. Chicken Little looks like another CGI freak show, but Home on the Range actually gave me some hope: There were a lot of CGI moments that blended perfectly with the hand-drawn art. Since they *can* create the look of traditional animation in 3D, maybe in the near future we'll see some computer-rendered animation from Disney that actually looks like a human drew it, instead of squeaky dog-toys brought to life. :)

    Anyway, check out the HOTR soundtrack if you're a fan of Disney music. It sounds *much* better without obnoxious audience noise! :)
     
  10. Thanks Rich for the HOTR soundtrack advice. I am a fan of Disney music AND country music too, so I'm sure I won't be disappointed. I vaguely remember a song being sung during the scene after the flash flood that peaked my interest but instead of listening to the song, I kept trying to remember the name of the person singing it (Bonnie Raitt) and you know how it is when you've got a name on the tip of your tongue and you can't quite get it out past your lips (frustrating!!). Also, I had heard that Tim McGraw was on the soundtrack but his song must have been during the closing credits (and you couldn't hear anything over the stampedeing brats heading toward the exit ;) )

    Anyway, thanks again and I'll be sure to pick up the CD as soon as possible.

    John

    p.s. You're right about the Garfield flick, it does look like a piece of art! (I'm just not sure which piece ;D )
     
  11. Rich T.

    Rich T. New Member

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    Yes, Tim McGraw's song is the first closing credit number. I'm sure you'll like it when you get a chance to actually hear it without the, uh, ambient atmospheric theater crowd effects. :) The song's a good one, too, and went well with the really cute visuals they used to identify the various characters and the teams responsible for them.

    That Bonnie Raitt song you mentioned has become one of my all-time Disney favorites! :)
     
  12. MaX

    MaX Member

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    ok... i just *had* to say this.....

    "yodel-adle-eedle-idle-oo" is the best song out there!
    "home on the range" is also pretty cool... "Patch of heaven" is nice, and other songs are OK. But i wish all the songs were like "Home on the Range" and "Yodel-adle-eedle-idle-oo"... Like this big crazy barnyard jamboree! Too bad today's public is not really waiting for that ;)

    The score has some great moments too, and is one of those epic cartoon western scores... if you get what i mean. I think it's my favourite Menken score, then again, i'm not so much of a Menken fan. It's a pitty it's so short, though.

    yodel-adle-eedle-idle-ooooooo!
     
  13. Rich T.

    Rich T. New Member

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    Max, I totally agree, "Yodel-adle-eedle-idle-oo" is one of my all-time favorites. You know, if by some strange combination of events through which Home on the Range ever becomes a Broadway Musical, that song'll bring the house down! Imagine it: Dozens of stylized cow costumes stomping across stage and down the aisles (with mirrors making it look like there are *thousands*) while the actor playing Slim goes ballistic hopping around and yodeling his lungs out and the whole shebang done under black lights. COOOL!

    BTW, this sequence is now viewable in its entirety on the sing-along DVD.

    I think you've got a point in that HOTR would've been even more fun as an all-stops-pulled lunatic Wild West Musical with characters (besides Slim) actually singing. "You Ain't Home on the Range" is an awesome theme - I wish it had been used even more.

    This *is* my current favorite Menken score. Not surprising, since two of my other favorite soundtracks are "City Slickers 2" and "Fievel Goes West."

    There's just something exhilerating about that "Wide Open Spaces" sound. :)
     

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