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MONSTERS INC: SOUNDTRACK

Review by Brad Green:
I was watching an ABC doco on the history of jazz the other night. It was chockers with the most wonderful old club recordings: small ensembles in full swing. The grainy recordings had a quaint charm, but I couldnít help imagining what they might sound like with crisp contemporary production. So nice of this CD to arrive the next day and let me know.

Randy Newmanís title cue is both an original tune and an overnight evergreen: the cymbals swing, the horns blow, and thereís nostalgia and exuberance knotted together as thick as monsterís fur. It also shimmers with production polish.

Dear old Randy has never been one to keep his mammoth talent, and even bigger sense of humour hidden in a closet. And since the mid-1990s heís found the perfect vehicle for his truckload of creativity: James And The Giant Peach, A Bugís Life and Toy Stories 1 and 2 have all sprung to life with a hand from his effervescent soundtracks. Animation allows Newman to run the gamut of emotions, and of musical notes. Its freedom, surrealism and inherent wit fitting as snugly as a bug-eyed monster in a rug with his joyous compositions.

As usual this score is as colourful as the characters. In fact, Iím not sure Newmanís blend of trad jazz and classical orchestrations has ever been such a monstrous success. The spins and cartwheels of the melodies and arrangements are dizzying. A walking bass gathers to climbing strings that segue to scurrying winds and hooting horns, which jostle playfully for lead lines. There are laughing, lumbering big brass phrases, whooping, tripping rhythms of glee and accents that go "boo!". It all adds up to controlled chaos of musical sophistication with humour in every bar.

Of course no Newman score would be truly complete without a song, and we get two interpretations of the one heís written here. Itís not quite up to the gorgeous When She Loved Me from Toy Story 2 Ė which was a travesty beaten by one of the most mediocre efforts of Bob Dylanís career last Oscars Ė but itís a typically spritely tune; and thereís lots of fun to be found in the first version, courtesy of voiceover talent John Goodman and Billy Crystal. Goodman does particularly well, and his gruff delivery and Crystalís exaggerated twang are a jolly contrast. Newman, understandably, does even better with his own version: as always a spiky, puffy tone that sounds like heís swallowed a blowfish whole. Youíve got to love it. The only problem I have is figuring out whether itís funnier having Goodman or Newman croon the line: "If I were handsome (. . . it could happen) . . ."

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TITLE: Monsters, INC.

ID: 397603 347924
Walt Disney Records

COMPOSER/CONDUCTOR: Randy Newman

PRODUCER: Frank Wolf, Bruno Coon

TRACKS: 25







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