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THE LION KING

Normal ReleaseSelfmade Promo

"Finally, the big picture of Zimmer's Oscar winning music"


Review by Thomas Glorieux:

For Zimmer fans, the year 1994 remains something special. The Lion King, the enchanting Disney production and best selling animation film of all time won an Oscar for musical score. Of course many people will say because of the songs or because of the success of the movie, but mainly because it was that the music told the story so strong that children and adults simply loved it. The album, being a tremendous successful selling release didn't simply do Hans Zimmer's work any justice. 4 tracks of an Oscar winning score amounting to 16 minutes is not the way to justify the work of someone as talented as Hans Zimmer. It took me with anger that some sensational moments were missing (I don't need to tell that to you which ones those are) and it took me a long time before I discovered that there was indeed a bootleg of the music. Sadly this bootleg contained sound effects and dialogue like everywhere and it didn't work out to enjoy it as musical score, even if it contained the stunning music that delivered him his first Oscar.
Zimmer's part still had to wait when it came down to the success of the songs, those by Elton John as the various voices of the film. 'Circle of Life', the track that opens the album is a stunning opener and I immensely enjoyed the panpipe performance during the middle of that song (which by the way is performed by composer Richard "Animal Farm" Harvey). 'I Just Can't Wait to be King' and 'Hakuna Matata' are enjoyable playful pieces which any child will enjoy and 'Be Prepared' is your favorite villain song.

The score which indeed shows very little of Zimmer's work is a piece of art. Zimmer said that he had 3 weeks to score the music and he indeed pointed out that he could have perfected everything if he had gotten more time. But 3 weeks of hard work simply gained him an Oscar and rightfully so, because it is stunning music that did the movie justice, unfortunately I can't say the same about the album release. 'This Land' is a double mixed piece of music that simply lets Zimmer do what he can do the best; make music that inspires the scenery. The next two tracks 'To Die For' and 'Under the Stars' are two enjoyable pieces which perfectly vary enough to make the score entertaining but as ever the final minutes of 'King of Pride Rock' are simply breathtaking. I simply had the same feeling when I heard the final track of Backdraft, "my goodness Zimmer you deliver big time". A choral moment supporting the best performance of the main theme followed by African glory and the Circle of Life restatement end the tale of this story. The Elton John songs are far more enjoyable then those he composed for The Road to El Dorado because mainly he wraps the already released song in his own style. True they are perfect nonetheless. Now, still a lot of fans find that the treatment for Zimmer's score is nothing but embarrassing and those that want simply more will have to find the bootleg and simply accept its array of sound effects and dialogue. But in any case, I always gave this album five for its score and songs but then as heard as score in the film. It simply contains too less musical score of the maestro of Germany to give it this nonetheless earned quotation. Believe me, The Lion King is still one of the finest of Zimmer and a bootleg isn't the right justified release to prove that to me, shame on you Walt Disney Records for not respecting a true classic score.

The Lion King "Selfmade Promo"

Why on earth are the real selling points of Zimmer so scrappily released? A League of Their Own, Backdraft (covering just not even 30 minutes) and The Prince of Egypt (missing out 3 wonderful highlights and replacing them by inadequate songs) were frankly a joke, half a joke and almost a joke as commercial releases. But the real joke was The Lion King, Hans Zimmer's Oscar win of 1994 and one of the best selling CD's of all time. Frankly 16 minutes is a joke and really a true farce that Disney presented us with, considering Alan Menken received more airtime on his releases for lesser scores. Of course, the songs play a serious part in these CD releases, and I'm the first to admit they are necessities on any release of The Lion King, but more score from Zimmer is a necessity too and hearing things on bootlegs with SFX or recording sessions playing it slower then the normal recording wasn't the way to go. So somebody changed it all for me, and made the release come to life, bringing the winning songs and score together, as it is heard in the film. Meaning you receive newly arranged tracks (knowing now that Disney mixed tracks together) and ultimately having 30 minutes of Zimmer's music more on board. I guess any fan of the music is waiting for it to happen and it just did for me. Now frankly, this score can't compete with Zimmer's ultimate The Prince of Egypt recording, since the depth alone is blowing The Lion King easily out of the water. But the magic of this full release and hearing all the wonderful tiny highlights come to life is the big picture indeed, and makes reliving this CD so much fun in the end. The songs on this release are all the same, except for one small oddity added namely 'Timon & Pumba's Hula', the funny song to lure the hyena's out of the cave. But the score is another matter, and has new surprising moments, even for those who thought they knew the movie from their heart.

Like for instance, 'This Land', having new material on board, like the wonderful brief choral fanfare for the prairie as the spine tingling solo ethnic flutes of Richard Harvey. Or what about 'Hyena Chase' which covers the taunting theme for the hyena's, the fast chase music for the escape, the heroic brief fanfare for Mufasa's arrival as the choral explosion for the father / son moment, all things you loved in the movie. 'To Die For' has 50 seconds as new material and basically is the light threatening music for the rising of the valley where the hyena's wait to chase the zebra's down the mountain, leading into Zimmer's classic action music with choir. 'Escape' adds again the chase music this time with a lovely solo flute moment of the theme when Simba lies under the scorching sun as the funny music for when Pumba and Timon enter the scene. Also 'Under the Stars' is new, because here you spot the real truth, with the wonderful choral moment of the theme when the monkey Rafiki finds out that Simba is still alive, leading to the sinister waltz for the hyena's, all leading the movie's plan. 'Hunting Friends' even has more surprising moments, with the excellent action music when Simba and Nala attack each other, brief but fun this really is. And 'Simba Returns Home' is actually the music from 'Under the Stars' of the original, but adding some minutes that are actually heard in the movie's version, so basically you get the real picture. And any person will love 'Finale' adding first the revelation suspension music, then the action music (having some Muppet Treasure Island stuff which is cool) and above all the action music for Simba and Scar's fight, in slow motion the action version of the theme never sounded better (this all will set the drooling in motion for the real Hans Zimmer fans), leading to the finale eruption of the choral theme. Basically, what you have hear is the film version and that's all I ever wanted. In the film Zimmer could hide his occasional bad mixing of musical ideas, on album this is the only flaw. But no SFX are heard in this version, no lack of score material hurts the rating, so Hans Zimmer's musical Oscar score comes to life the way he wanted to have heard it all along on CD. Again its nothing in depth like The Prince of Egypt (still his ultimate classic) but The Lion King is nonetheless Oscar magic and now finally presented the way it should have been from the beginning.

The Lion King: ***1/2                                 Score: ***1/2           Songs: *****
The Lion King "Selfmade Promo":
****1/2       Score: ****1/2         Songs: *****

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Tracks Single Disc

1. Circle Of Life (3.57)    Excellent Track

2. I Just Can't Wait To Be King (2.49)

3. Be Prepared (3.37)    Excellent Track

4. Hakuna Matata (3.31)

5. Can You Feel The Love Tonight (2.56)

6. This Land * (2.53)    Excellent Track

7. To Die For * (4.16)    Excellent Track

8. Under The Stars * (3.42)

9. King Of Pride Rock * (5.56)    Excellent Track

10. Circle Of Life: Elton John (4.49)    Excellent Track

11. I Just Can't Wait To Be King: Elton John (3.34)    Excellent Track

12. Can You Feel The Love Tonight: Elton John (4.02)    Excellent Track

* Soundtrack composed by Hans Zimmer

Total Length: 46.33

 

The Prince of Egypt "Expanded Promo"

1. Circle Of Life (3.59)    Excellent Track

2. This Land *++ (3.01)    Excellent Track

3. I Just Can't Wait To Be King (2.50)

4. Hyena Chase *+ (6.50)    Excellent Track

5. Be Prepared (3.40)    Excellent Track

6. To Die For *++ (5.00)    Excellent Track

7. Escape *+ (2.50)

8. Hakuna Matata (3.33)

9. Under The Stars *++ (3.48)    Excellent Track

10. Timon & Pumba's Hula (0.27)

11. Hunting Friends *+ (4.14)

12. Can You Feel The Love Tonight (2.59)

13. Simba Returns Home *++ (10.03)    Excellent Track

14. Finale *++ (11.35)    Excellent Track

15. Circle Of Life: Elton John (4.53)    Excellent Track

11. I Just Can't Wait To Be King: Elton John (3.39)    Excellent Track

12. Can You Feel The Love Tonight: Elton John (4.01)    Excellent Track

* Soundtrack composed by Hans Zimmer

+ World Premiere Release

++ Contains New unreleased material

Total Length: 77.42

 

The use of artwork or photos is posted for non profitable reasons

=== Link to Composer Site: Hans Zimmer ===

Original Soundtrack by Hans Zimmer
Original songs by Elton John

 

Orchestrations by Bruce Fowler & Nick Glennie - Smith

 

Recorded at Media Ventures; LA, Ocean Way Studios; UK, Snake Ranch & Angel Studios; London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

Oscar and Golden Globe winner