Walt Disney Records The Legacy Collection: The Lion King
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Walt Disney Records' newly created line of collectible CDs, Walt Disney Records The Legacy Collection, will celebrate the anniversaries of Disney's most cherished and classic properties that have been enchanting audiences for generations. Through 2015, Walt Disney Records will celebrate 12 anniversaries including 'Pinocchio' (75th), 'Fantasia' (75th), 'Cinderella' (65th), 'Lady and the Tramp' (60th), 'Sleeping Beauty' (55th), 'Mary Poppins' (50th), 'The Lion King' (20th) and 'Toy Story' (20th), among others.
To honor these musical landmarks, Walt Disney Records The Legacy Collection will feature the beloved original soundtracks, plus valuable documentary content that tells the story behind the music. Each album will feature newly created artwork from Lorelay Bove, a visual development artist at Walt Disney Animation Studios ('Tangled,' 'Winnie the Pooh,' 'Wreck-It Ralph'). The illustrations, inspired by the original properties, will celebrate Disney's rich heritage and create a unified look for the entire collection.
The first release in the series is The Lion King, a two-disc set bound in high quality packaging featuring the original motion picture soundtrack, 30 minutes of previously unreleased score, plus liner notes by Don Hahn (producer) and Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer.
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One of the key aspects of the movie was its soundtrack. Instant hits like Can You Feel the Love Tonight, I Just Can't Wait to Be King, and Hakuna Matata became touchstones of Disney's music library practically overnight. However, it was Hans Zimmer's score that gave the film its direction when the singing stopped and the drama and comedy emerged. The sweeping, memorable orchestral music incorporates necessary musical stylings to capture the African safari feeling while simultaneously giving the grandiose qualities attendant to the story of a king. The tragedy of the original release is that a great amount of music from the score has heretofore remained unavailable. Until now.
This is the definitive collection of music. The quality is outstanding, and listening to the soundtrack in all its glory, a listener can hear certain instruments that got muted or muffled when the music volume was balanced against the sound effects and voiceover in the film. Hans Zimmer is a modern day master of film scores, and this music is a shining example of his use of themes and musical styles to effectively communicate to the listener what is going on in the movie. To the best of my knowledge, this is the complete soundtrack to the movie. All of the tracks are in the correct order, including placing the vocal tracks at their proper place with reference to the score pieces.
Additional musical features are a few extra songs and demo tracks, essentially early recordings of some of the film's music. They are not *too* different from the tracks used in the film, but there is a sufficient distinction to justify their inclusion on the CDs.
The liner notes and packaging are excellent, going for a book theme rather than a standard jewel case. While as a matter of personal preference I would rather have the jewel case for purposes of protecting the discs, the materials are all high quality and there are some interesting notes included in here. The artwork is beautiful and as a long-time Disney fan, and especially an adult collector, this is an excellent addition to my collection.
While it is a shame that it took 20 years to get the complete Hans Zimmer score formally released, the music was well worth the wait. As I indicated above, this is the definitive soundtrack to the movie, and the extras make it worth the purchase price. For fans of Zimmer's music and fans of The Lion King, I recommend this collection extremely highly and I strongly advise fans to keep a look out for future Disney Legacy Collection soundtracks over the course of the next year. If you're only interested in the vocal tracks like Hakuna Matata, the individual songs can be purchased elsewhere, including the old 1994 soundtrack. This is a set for more serious collectors and for those looking for the complete orchestrated score for the movie. If you fall into the latter category, this is what you're seeking.
EDIT: I have two additional items of note for this soundtrack after listening to it a couple of times which may be relevant. First, the vocal tracks with which everyone is familiar (e.g. Circle of Life, Hakuna Matata, etc.) are the film mixes, not the "single" releases of these songs. This means that these tracks differ from every previous release of the same songs in that there is bleed-in from prior tracks because the movie more or less had wall-to-wall music, with a few exceptions. The tracks have gapless playback wherever appropriate. They are also slightly remixed, including mildly different instrumentation arrangements. In other words, while the songs are the same as you know and love, because the concept of this release is to include all the music, some of the instruments are brought to the foreground of the soundscape compared to prior releases. Often this is quite subtle and most are not likely to notice it, but if you are familiar with the original CD release, there most certainly is a difference.
Second, as another reviewer pointed out, some of the tracks are a tad bit too loud in their mix which causes distortion. I experimented a little with this and my results varied. Ripping the CD to my iPod proved the best way to listen to it, probably because the rip balanced it. Listening to the CD straight through a CD player led to results which varied based primarily on speaker size and quality. My 5-speaker surround setup balanced it--probably automatically--but a straight stereo speaker setup had a little bit of distortion. It's a strange situation because it is not really a huge problem and some buyers may not even experience it. The demo tracks on the second disc were more susceptible to this, but that is to be expected because they were not included in the film's final mix. All the same, in the interest of thoroughness, I wanted to update my review to point this out in case anyone else notices it. Thanks to the reviewer who pointed it out in that review so I knew it wasn't just me noticing it!
This is a mini hardcover CD booklet, which features original artwork and illustrations by Walt Disney Animation Studios visual development artist, Lorelay Bové. The music has some newly recorded tracks done by Disney in-house musicians of originally discarded songs.
Are the extra songs worth it? I would say yes if you're a completist. There are two extra songs, "The Morning Report" (featured in a previous special edition of the film) and "Warthog Rhapsody" (already included in Rhythm of the Pridelands). Whether it was the quality of the songs or took too much running time, they weren't included in the final cut. There are also a lot of score demos included. These are nice to discover what could've been.
This CD is equivalent to those "Art of XYZ" movie books. Instead of visual artwork that could've been, you hear all the demo scores that could've been in the film. This collection is a nice revisit to the music of your youth. Recommended.
— BONUS —
You also get digital copies of this album accessible via Amazon music.
But since the beginning, the one thing about this movie that has never changed for me is the music. From the opening scene to Hakuna Matata to seeing Simba take his place on Pride Rock. As in most things, this movie simply wouldn't be what it has become without its unforgettable music. And now as the ultimate Lion King fan, I finally have in my possession the ultimate Lion King music experience! I thought I knew all the music and that I wouldn't be surprised by what I heard in this collection-- But I was very wrong! Honestly, it's like experiencing the movie in a whole new way! There are so many little tunes & sounds in the background that even I, who has seen the movie hundreds of times, didn't even realize were there! (It probably didn't help that even some of the originally released music is slightly different from the actual movie versions.)
So basically, if you LOVE the Lion King and you LOVE the music, buy this collection. I promise, you will not be disappointed!!
UPDATE: Now that I've listened to it several times over, I can give a specific example that I found of sounds in the background that are lost in the movie. In the scene when Simba, Nala, & Zazu are walking to the "watering hole" (technically, Elephant Graveyard, unbeknownst to Zazu), when Zazu brings up the "betrothal" issue, there's a subtle variation of Can You Feel the Love Tonight that plays for a few seconds! (I never knew that was there, because it's lost behind the dialogue.)