NEAR MINT - UNSEALED - ONLY ONE AVAILABLE!
Randy Newman's only score for Disney where Pixar weren't involved was for James and the Giant Peach, the 1996 Tim Burton-produced mix of live action and animation. If Burton hadn't just fallen out with Danny Elfman, then Elfman would surely have scored the film, though in his place Newman seems the perfect choice. His music is as wonderful as could be expected.
The album opens with four superb songs. Unlike his work on Toy Story and A Bug's Life, Newman's songs in James and the Giant Peach are sung by the characters. The first is a solo for James, imaginatively enough entitled "My Name is James". (Anyone who has heard Newman's self-performed demo version and not had to go to hospital with chronic laughter pains must be mad.) Following this is probably the pick of the songs, "That's the Life", a big band number performed by the whole company. The wonderful "Eating the Peach", whose lyrics are taken from Roald Dahl's text (lyrics to the other songs are all by Newman), is very funny; and "Family", while a little sickly-sweet, is still lovely.
The score opens in the fifth track, with an adorable (though frustratingly brief) piece for solo violin. What follows is pretty much along the same lines as Newman's other scores for animations, though is rather more coherent and less "Mickey Mousey". "Clouds" includes a lovely instrumental performance of the first song, before "Spiker, Sponge and a Rhino" introduces the score's main theme, a lovely little comic march that goes through umpteen variations through the course of the album.
"Magic Man" includes some writing for flute that recalls Newman's superlative score for Awakenings that is utterly heartbreaking, though this is quickly discarded in favour of the more upbeat string writing from Toy Story. As with all of his scores for animations, this music is orchestrated to the hilt, and is probably as difficult-to-perform as any scores that have come out of Hollywood in the last twenty years. Frank Wolf's recording details every single orchestral nuance, only adding to the effect of the already-superb orchestration, and brings out the very best of the score.
The remaining cues bring forth one delight after another - from tender solos for piano, flute or trumpet to great big band numbers, the score is just a pure joy. Then, right at the very end, best of all, is the self-penned "Good News" for Newman himself to sing to us - against all odds, it's a light-Gospel number, wonderfully catchy and one of his very best movie songs. James and the Giant Peach is often overlooked by people who go first to the Pixar scores, but it's probably better than any of them. Newman once said it was his own best score
1. My Name is James (2:39)
2. That's the Life (1:59)
3. Eating the Peach (2:54)
4. Family (2:44)
5. Main Title (:37)
6. Clouds (1:40)
7. Spiker, Sponge and a Rhino (3:25)
8. Magic Man (4:15)
9. Giant Peach (1:54)
10. Into the Peach (2:05)
11. James Makes Some Friends (1:08)
12. The Peach Rolls (2:37)
13. All at Sea / That's the Life (reprise) (2:13)
14. 100 Seagulls and One Shark (1:58)
15. Lullaby (1:57)
16. James's Dream (1:03)
17. Way Off Course (1:48)
18. The Rhino Attacks (2:51)
19. Empire State Building (2:17)
20. New York City (2:53)
21. Spiker and Sponge Come to America (2:15)
22. A Place Where Dreams Come True (3:58)
23. Good News (4:20)