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Beauty and the Beast

Track List:
  1. Prologue 2:27
  2. Belle 5:07
  3. Belle (Reprise) 1:03
  4. Gaston 3:37
  5. Gaston (Reprise) 2:01
  6. Be Our Guest 3:42
  7. Something There 2:16
  8. The Mob Song 3:28
  9. Beauty and the Beast 2:44
  10. To the Fair 1:55
  11. West Wing 4:22
  12. The Beast Lets Belle Go 2:19
  13. Battle on the Tower 5:27
  14. Transformation 5:47
  15. Beauty and the Beast (Duet) 4:03

Total Time: (50:55)

Composed by:
Alan Menken

Arranged by:
Alan Menken
Danny Troob
David Friedman

Orchestrated by:
Danny Troob
Michael Starobin

Conducted by:
David Freidman

Song Lyrics by:
Howard Ashman

If you've ever wondered why Disney ever decided to release so many bland cartoon musicals, just listen to two different scores: The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. You'll soon realize that the Disney operetta formula wasn't always a bad thing. In fact, Beauty and the Beast was and still is not just the finest Disney soundtrack, but the finest animated film soundtrack of all time. Period. It seems like there are so many of these to choose from that people simply can't find ones that suit them, if any. A number of people find that the scores in these types of films are worth buying even if the album releases give more credit to the songs. There's no need to worry about that with this soundtrack though, as the songs are just as captivating as the score itself. In some cases, the quality of composition and performance in the songs even outweighs the quality heard in the score.

My favorite song, which also happens to be the most overlooked on the CD, is "Something There." The reason this is my favorite lies in the classical style of the strings, especially on the first verse. Other treats are "Belle" and "Gaston," though my least favorite, oddly, is probably the most well known song "Be Our Guest." I would have liked a different performance on the track "Beauty and the Beast," though. Angela Lansbury may be a talented actor and even singer, but I can't seem to shake the image of Jessica Fletcher from Murder She Wrote handling the vocals. Even so, the songs are all listenable and very entertaining, each featuring full orchestral backing, with the exception of the pop ballad version of "Beauty and the Beast" featured in the end credits. The song is a duet handled by pop sensations (now anyway) Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson.

The score is composed of the same high quality as the songs. "To the Fair" is the least memorable of these, though it is still very good, and I really enjoy "The West Wing" which happens to be one of the most furious action cues I've heard. A most noteworthy track is "Battle on the Tower" which begins with a very comical mood based on the "Be Our Guest" theme. This tone changes after a few minutes when the battle shifts from the villagers to the battle between Gaston and the Beast. While listening to this cue, I also appreciate Menken's extremely complex style, which contains very richly textured orchestrations. The final cue "Transformation" is simply one of the greatest ever conceived. It contains a majesty that may never be captured in Disney films ever again, with a choral ending that is to die for, but has unfortunately become a staple in Menken's scores that would follow, making it seem rather like others of it's kind.

The only real problem I have with the CD is that fact the dialogue was left in the opening prologue. The begin of the score sets off very well with foreboding rumblings that let the listener know that they're in for one hell of a ride, when all of a sudden, that damn voice comes in, "Once upon a time..." which I find just irritating. I also believe that there was more score from the movie that didn't make it onto the disc. The CD is only fifty minutes long which makes anyone who notices wonder why more score couldn't have been included.

In summation, Beauty and the Beast is the best score ever for an animated film, and I think that if Disney wants to feature this kind of output ever again, I suggest that they try to change their attitudes that seem to say that cartoons are only for children. If you want to be entertained and you're a fan of fine music you should pick this up right away, even if you don't generally like Disney musicals. It's a keeper; trust me.

Beauty and the Beast is Copyright 1991 Disney Records. This review is written by and is the property of Isaac Engelhorn and does not reflect the opinions of Tripod.