Disney CD's:
Animated Movie Soundtracks


Walt Disney created some of the most popular characters of all time. Here are some of the CDs available through Amazon.com or their partners. This is not yet a complete list, but I'm adding albums to the list daily. If you wish to purchase any of these items, click on either the title or the CD cover to be directed to Amazon.com. As a warning, I have put up pictures to give you somewhat an idea of the style of each album so the pages may load slowly, depending on the speed of your internet connection.

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Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs
Disney's Snow White, the world's first animated musical feature (1937), is still a standard in the industry. Though 1930s recording technology was primitive by today's standards, the Disney music studios have always used the available technology to its fullest, and this recording still stands up. The mature but hauntingly childlike Adriana Caselotti as Snow White is a unique vocal presence, and the songs include "Whistle While You Work," "Heigh-Ho," and "Some Day My Prince Will Come." The score is nearly as great an accomplishment as the film itself.

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Pinocchio
This 1940 soundtrack earns a spot on any essential-Disney list if only for the fact that it introduced "When You Wish upon a Star," sung by Cliff Edwards, whose voice has become ubiquitous in the 60 years Jiminy Cricket has been in movies and educational films as well as on TV shows. But Pinocchio is no one-hit wonder: the disc also boasts "I've Got No Strings," "Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee (An Actor's Life for Me)," and an endearingly maudlin instrumental score.

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Fantasia
It's hard to believe now that Walt Disney's bold 1940 impressionistic experiment in wedding then-state-of-the-art animation with classical music was a rather resounding failure upon its release. The cliché proves the rule: Fantasia was decades ahead of its time (Disney even launched a "psychedelic"-themed rerelease campaign in the late '60s). It's even harder to fathom that then-Disney management spent over a million dollars in the early '80s replacing the muscular Leopold Stokowski score with a digitally recorded clone, then another undisclosed fortune to digitize Leo and put him back alongside Mickey at the conductor's podium in the '90s! This much-traveled Stokowski score will gain no points for subtlety (a symphonic Shaq attack is more like it), but it was Walt's first--and only!--choice and has never sounded better.

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Dumbo

Bambi
Disney's patented combination of sweetness and terror is epitomized by Bambi, in which a skunk bashfully requests to be called Flower while the main character grieves his slain mother. The soundtrack to this 1942 Disney feature is never quite so extreme--even though Frank Churchill and Larry Morey's "Little April Shower" is pretty darned cute (as is the song it started out as, "Rain Drops," a demo of which is included as a bonus track). Sadly, Churchill didn't live to see the finished film (for which his music received two Oscar nominations), but this soundtrack demonstrates the importance of his artistic contribution to a beloved classic.

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Cinderella
Contrary to its modern reputation as an overarching, megasuccessful entertainment monolith, the original Disney legend was built on a sometimes shaky foundation seemingly forged out of equal portions of nerve, talent, and luck. From Snow White and Fantasia to theme parks and his long television legacy, Walt Disney's greatest achievements were often high-risk ventures that frequently flew in the face of both critics and conventional wisdom. With Hollywood's postwar fortunes slipping, television on the rise, and his studio deep in debt, Disney largely bet his future on Cinderella. The resultant animated classic is a timeless romantic fairytale featuring a lively slate of songs by Mack David, Al Hoffman, and Jerry Livingston (crucially framed by the effective, dramatic orchestral score of Oliver Wallace and Paul J. Smith), highlighted by the classic "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" and the ever-delightful "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo." Praise is due the producers of this CD, who, by carefully sequencing and editing the film's songs and score to replicate its original impact, have created a virtually seamless listening experience. Collectors should note an added bonus on this edition: a spry demo recording of "I'm in the Middle of a Muddle," a jaunty tune for a never-produced musical number from the film.

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Alice in Wonderland
Walt Disney had originally toyed with the idea of bringing Lewis Carroll's phantasmagorical classic to the screen in the '30s as one of his first live-action feature films. Paramount beat him to the punch with their 1933 all-star version, but, through patience or sheer stubbornness, Disney finally prevailed, turning the story into one of his studio's string of postwar animated classics. Though somewhat odd by most film musical standards (the songs are sometimes fragmentary and tend to punctuate the story rather than stop it to showcase themselves), the score utilizes Oliver Wallace's playful underscore and no less than eight songwriters (including Mack David, Sammy Fain, Al Hoffman, and Jerry Livingston) to bring Carroll's magical world to life, often using his own verse in the bargain. Marking the first time all of Alice's original music has been available outside the film, this edition presents it in a seamlessly edited manner that both evokes the story's atmospherics and showcases its Carroll-inspired songcraft.

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Lady and the Tramp
This early '50s Disney classic had it all: class confrontation (purebred meets mutt), memorable songs (by Sonny Burke and Peggy Lee), and an unusually truthful view of household creatures (dogs are good, cats are bad). "The Siamese Cat Song" shimmers with the mock Orientalism of classic Exotica--enhanced by Lee's double-tracked evocation of barely domesticated evil. Producer Randy Thornton deserves credit for piecing together Oliver Wallace's myriad cues into a reasonably cohesive musical work, but the handful of Peggy Lee tracks are the real treasure. Whether fronting a choir of howling dogs on "He's a Tramp" or employing that oddly dispassionate "Is That All There Is" voice on "What Is a Baby," it's Lee who, a half century later, still commands the spotlight.

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101 Dalmations
Given the two belated live-action sequels and numerous other TV and video spinoffs spawned by Disney's charming 1961 animated original, the Dalmatian count is more like 1,001 by now. This reissued soundtrack (admirably restored in the late '90s by producer Randy Thornton) showcases the original orchestral film cues of George Bruns to good effect. While the composer's bright, lively work was largely fragmentary (originally written as punctuation for the film's turns of action and comedy), its components have been skillfully sequenced and gently edited here for a more cohesive listening experience. The film's most memorable musical moments remain Mel Levin's delightful trio of songs, "Kanine Krunchies," "Dalmatian Plantation," and, of course, the classic villainess romp "Cruella DeVil." Bonus cuts include both a bluesy piano rendition and Levin's decidedly goofy piano/vocal demo of the latter tune. A great primer to Disney's animation underscore philosophy, seasoned with one of the studio's most memorable songs.

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Sleeping Beauty
Two decades after releasing the world's first soundtrack recording with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney achieved another milestone by releasing Sleeping Beauty, the world's first stereo soundtrack album. Nominated for an Oscar in 1959, George Bruns's lilting orchestral score was adapted from the Tchaikovsky ballet and recorded in Germany, where the most state-of-the-art recording equipment could be found. (Disney spared no expense on the tale of Aurora and Maleficent--it cost a then-unheard-of $6 million to make the film.) Featuring Mary Costa's ethereal vocals on "Once upon a Dream" and "I Wonder," Sleeping Beauty's combination of songs and score set a standard that soundtrack releases would follow for decades to come.

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Mary Poppins
If not for all the other highlights of Walt Disney's incomparable pop cultural legacy, it would be tempting to call Mary Poppins his crowning achievement. Released just two years before his death, the innovative live-action/animation/musical hybrid became an instant classic. It was nominated for 13 Academy Awards and a winner of 5 (including Best Actress for Julie Andrews and Best Musical Score and Best Song Oscars for the brother team of Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman). It's no stretch to call the Mary Poppins score the Shermans' most memorable of their 40-plus-year association with Disney. Boasting at least three bona fide classics ("A Spoonful of Sugar"; the Gilbert and Sullivan-esque romp, "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"; and Oscar winner, "Chim Chim Cher-ee") and at least as many other contenders, the Shermans' score held the technical tour de force together while giving it a sense of ageless wonder to match the powers of its titular magical nanny. This edition restores the previously abridged "Step in Time" sequence to its original length and offers a terrific 16-minute bonus track for collectors: the Sherman brothers' reminiscences about their work on the landmark film interspersed with four of their original song demos.

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Jungle Book
At the height of Beatlemania, the Disney folks were teaching kids how to really swing with this soundtrack to their adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. Of course, it's Phil Harris (the voice of everyone's favorite hipster bear Baloo) who steals the show with the original slacker anthem, "The Bare Necessities," but his scat match with an inspired Louis Prima on "I Wan'na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)" is also not to be missed. Songwriters Richard and Robert Sherman--who clearly enjoyed playing the irony card on songs like "Trust in Me (The Python's Song)" and "That's What Friends Are For" (The Vulture Song)"--offer entertaining reminiscences about the project in a 12-minute bonus track. George Bruns's wonderful underscore, a couple early song demos, and two post-soundtrack Baloo numbers round out a collection that suggests, in the most charming way imaginable, that it really is a jungle out there.

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Aristocats

Bedknobs & Broomsticks
While Disney artists and technicians didn't necessarily pioneer the merging of live action and animation, their elegant efforts on films like Mary Poppins, Pete's Dragon, and this 1971 fantasy considerably expanded the medium's possibilities. The Poppins parallels here (an English middle-class setting, children beguiled by an enchanted nanny, star David Tomlinson) are hard to ignore; indeed, the film's source story was originally purchased by Disney as an insurance policy in case Poppins fell through. Thus it isn't surprising to find the Sherman brothers songwriting team also penning Bedknobs' songs and score. It's a typically strong effort by the pair, with Angela Lansbury's talents shining on "Age of Not Believing" and "A Step in the Right Direction" and Tomlinson nearly stealing the show with "Eglantine." But given the film's rambling narrative and overly familiar story elements, the Shermans seem hard pressed to repeat the heights or remarkable consistency of their Academy Award-winning work on Poppins. Still, playing also-ran to that Disney masterpiece is hardly the same as losing. This restored edition also includes original Sherman demos for the cut songs "Nobody's Problems," "Solid Citizen," and "The Fundamental Elements," tunes that ironically turned out to be among the film's best.

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Pete's Dragon
Marrying animation to live action had been experimented with in the '30s and '40s, perfected in the '60s for Mary Poppins, and elevated to tour-de-force status on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, but Disney's 1976 feature Pete's Dragon helped pioneer the use of the technique as feature-film vehicle. The song-score of Al Kasha and Joel Hirschorn occasionally rises to the level of the Sherman brothers, their daunting predecessors at the studio, but it also graced one of the last of the old-school Disney musical films. Indeed, it's likely the most consistent element of a much-troubled production (its animation was originally intended for a brief segment at the end, then steadily expanded after the fact). Indeed, there's an almost schizophrenic sense of the traditional Disney musical ethos occasionally clashing with the changing musical mores of the late '70s. The mature, Helen Reddy-performed ballad "Candle on the Water" won a Best Song Oscar, but other tunes like "Passamashloddy" and "Boo Bop Bopbop (I Love You Too)" sometimes feel like they could have been outtakes from any six previous Disney musicals. But if the studio's impossibly sunny, marvelously crafted song ethos of its '40s-'60s prime is what you're after, you'll find a familiar friend here.

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The Little Mermaid
Before Broadway was Disneyfied and Times Square became a mall, the best Broadway musicals were being written for Disney animated features by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman. Their songs for The Little Mermaid created the mold from which their even more popular work (Beauty & the Beast, Aladdin) would be cast. Almost every tune in Mermaid has its (slightly inferior) counterpart in Beauty, for example. But there's no topping the Oscar-winning calypso show-stopper, "Under the Sea"--in which a Caribbean crab convinces you that "Darlin' it's better/Down where it's wetter." Other songs, just as delightful, are even more impressive in the context of the movie. The rapturous "Kiss the Girl" accompanies a scene in which, despite the whispered urgings of creatures all around, the romantic hero does not act on the title's advice! That's the kind of abstract dramatic (OK, comedic) conceit you'd expect from Harold Pinter rather than Disney. And the gruesomely hilarious "Les Poissons" gives us a fisheye view of a kitchen where the seafood chef is a sort of French Ed Gein--a sadistic murderer who brutally tortures and chops up his victims, then eats them! Who says Disney never did black comedy? "...I stuff you with bread/It won't hurt, 'cause you're dead/And you're certainly lucky you are...." Lyricist Ashman may not have been Cole Porter, but he was the next best thing.

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The Rescuers Down Under

Beauty and the Beast - Special Edition Soundtrack
After the success of their score for The Little Mermaid, the songwriting team of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken returned to Disney for their second fairy-tale adaptation. Sadly, it was the duo's last completed score before Ashman's untimely death at age 41. This soundtrack contains more-conventional show music than The Little Mermaid, owing in large part to Broadway stalwart Angela Lansbury and to Jerry Orbach's Yves Montand impersonation. Most of the songs here were included in the subsequent Broadway adaptation and its cast album, but this disc is superior in its studio polish and cast, which is better suited to the score.

Aladdin

The Lion King
Elton John doesn't seem like a natural choice to write for a Disney musical, but he rose to the task on The Lion King, transcending his usual penchant for the softest of soft rock. Sir Elton's collaboration with Tim Rice (former writing partner of Andrew Lloyd Webber) helps connect the soundtrack to the theatrical lineage of all Disney musicals--so much so that, like Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King was eventually adapted for Broadway. Undistinguished songs like "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" are far outnumbered by stirring, stately tunes that lent the film so much of its sense of pageant and play.

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Pocahontas

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame

Hercules

Mulan
Lea Salonga, best known as the voice of Jasmine in Aladdin, steals the show here as the title character in Disney's Mulan. The former star of Miss Saigon adds touching elements to the feature, especially on introspective numbers such as "Reflection." Unfortunately, the voice of Donny Osmond, relegated to anthems such as "I'll Make a Man Out of You" doesn't really enhance the story line, a saga set in ancient China. Jerry Goldsmith provides the Far East tinge to the score, almost reminiscent of early Les Baxter. While Mulan is a far cry from the memorable Beauty and the Beast, it is both funny and charming.

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Tarzan
If anyone belongs in the "Whatever Happened To?" category of a game show, it's Phil Collins. Back in the 1980s, Collins was everywhere, having retinkered Genesis into a smooth, hit-making machine and embarking on a solo career that redefined adult contemporary music. He's still been busy, but nowhere near the spotlight. His latest project has been writing five songs for Disney's animated Tarzan. "You' ll Be in My Heart"--presented here in two versions, one with actress Glenn Close--is exactly the sort of ersatz orchestrated power ballad you expect from this sentimental guy. A duet with 'N Sync in "Trashin' the Camp" (also issued in two versions) is Phil's concession to the kids. Producer Mark Mancina's instrumental score mixes the expectant ambient sounds of the jungle with the slowly unfolding sounds of daybreak and jungle rhythms (provided by Collins on drums) that denote inevitable conflict.

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Fantasia 2000
Without the gorgeous visuals, the soundtrack to Fantasia/2000 is nothing more than a collection of some of classical music's greatest moments. But what moments they are! Conductor James Levine and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra provide new (though hardly groundbreaking) arrangements for these classical music warhorses. Piano virtuoso Yefim Bronfman joins in to record the Allegro section of Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2 (if you like this track, check out Bronfman playing the entire piece on his 1999 disc with the Los Angeles Philharmonic), and soprano Kathleen Battle lends a high note to the climax of Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance. We also get the classic Sorcerer's Apprentice from the original (and now out-of-print) Fantasia soundtrack. Performed by Philharmonia Orchestra, the Paul Dukas composition still steals the show. The original movie may have been a flop, but with any luck Fantasia/2000 will turn some young minds on to classical music, especially with such inspired choices as Respighi's Pines of Rome. Like what you hear? Remember, these are just excerpts and you really owe it to yourself to hear the works in their entirety--slow movements and all. That said, whether you're a Disney fan, an IMAX aficionado, or just a classical-lover-to-be, you can't go wrong with this disc.

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The Emperor's New Groove
Disney's score-heavy soundtrack to the animated "Emperor's New Groove" blends a scoop of splashy and sentimental contemporary tunes with a shovelful of evocative, masterfully crafted compositions. Big-name artists such as Shawn Colvin, Eartha Kitt, and Tom Jones each signed on to sing one of five Sting-penned songs, and Sting himself lends vocals to two tracks (one a duet with Colvin), so the stars are flying high. But fans of these folks may feel they're forever flipping through the wordless orchestral numbers in search of the record's radio-friendly fare. But buyers with more eclectic listening habits are in for a fully engaging if sometimes jumpy sonic ride: Composer John Debney sends pulses racing then mellows them out on tracks teeming with tension ("Beware the Groove"), trepidation ("The Jungle Rescue"), or tenderness ("A New Hope"), and Sting as songwriter doses up splashes of spice by way of the salsified "Perfect World," for which Jones's considerable vocal energies couldn't be better suited, and the prickly "Snuff Out the Lights," which is put across with practiced insouciance by a pucker-faced, still-out-of-this-world-after-all-these-years Kitt, who also plays the movie's devious diva Yzma. "My Funny Friend and Me," Emperor's end-title song and the record's first single, presents a more familiar Sting, and not only because he's its singer. Soundwise, it hardly strays from the artist's huge-selling adult-skewed ballads--his bread and butter in recent years--and as such, it, along with the tender duet "One Day She'll Love Me," grips the potential to send this record racing up the charts.

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Lilo & Stitch
If you thought Stitch was a ball of fire, wait till you see your kids bobbing, bouncing, and breaking bad to this soundtrack. The kid/Elvis Presley connection is by now a known quantity (check out the many kid-specific compilations devoted to the King), and the songs selected here couldn't make better sense--"Stuck on You" sends 'em out on the living-room dance floor and serves as this shake-and-shimmy session's starter course; "Suspicious Minds" blows off its paranoia for packs of precocious lip-synchers; "Heartbreak Hotel" will have to adjust its check-out time; "Devil in Disguise"'s dips and swerves demand a full-tilt rock-out; and "Hound Dog" plants a seed of suspicion in your own mind: Was that song written for grown-ups? A couple of covers--Wynonna's throaty, work-you-up "Burning Love" and A*Teens' bubble-yummy "Can't Help Falling in Love"--keep the bobby-sox brigade cutting the carpet until a three-track slice of score returns us to a soundtrack state of mind. "Stitch to the Rescue," "You Can Never Belong," and "I'm Lost," from composer Alan Silvestri, race forward with snatches of danger, intrigue, and playfulness, stopping every so often for swells of hope and heavy-heartedness. But once Elvis leaves the building and Silvestri hits the lights, it's this record's two Hawaiian originals that hang back. Mark Keali'I Ho'omalu's "Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride" and "He Mele No Lilo" sway with the gentleness of a grass skirt, heaping on a classic hula vibe that'll chase off any remaining ants in the pants of pork-chopless, pelvis-swiveling Elvis pretenders.

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Treasure Planet
Not exactly the most seamless adaptation ever attempted, this animated version of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic swashbuckler (now set in outer space, even if the "ships" appear inexplicably unchanged since the 18th century) at least benefited from Disney's always high production standards. Those factors also insure that James Newton Howard's orchestral score is serviceably effervescent and retro enough for the film's storytelling gambit--if still a long way from the heights of Korngold's triumphant, genre-defining music for The Sea Hawk and other Errol Flynn swashbucklers; call it Captain Blood-lite. The studio's marketing-driven desire to have it both ways has also awkwardly sandwiched in a couple otherwise pleasant John Rzeznik-penned modern rock tracks, "I'm Still Here," performed by the Goo Goo Dolls singer himself, and BBMak's slightly funkier take of "Always Know Where You Are."

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