Given The Walt Disney Company's notorious penchant for avoiding most soundtrack releases on CD - Michael Giacchino's score to Up is probably one of the few Oscar-winning scores in history to never have been pressed on CD, and Randy Newman's Toy Story 3 soundtrack is another digital-only affair - it's nice to see Walt Disney Records reissuing the soundtrack to Beauty and the Beast, one of their crowning achievements, on CD once more. However, it's far from the best presentation the music has ever received.
Beauty and the Beast was a smash hit when it premiered in the winter of 1991. Following the equally-stunning The Little Mermaid from two years prior, Disney ushered in a silver age of hand-drawn animated features that continued well into the 1990s. It's Beauty that may be the most decorated film from this time period, though; it was the first (and, next to Up, one of the only) full-length animated feature to receive a Best Picture nomination from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the first to win a Golden Globe for Best Picture - Musical or Comedy.
The Oscar, Golden Globe and Grammy-winning score, with its blend of eminently singable tunes including "Be Our Guest," "Belle" and the majestic title song, was composed by the winning team of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, who'd already struck gold at Disney with The Little Mermaid and became highly respected film score forces when their musical adaptation of the cult film Little Shop of Horrors was turned into a successful film in 1986. Unfortunately, it was one of the duo's final collaborations; Ashman died shortly after completing the lyrics to Beauty (he was also working on lyrics to 1992's Aladdin, which were completed by lyricist Tim Rice). The soundtrack was also a big hit thanks to the Oscar-winning pop radio version of the title track, sung as a duet by Peabo Bryson and a relatively unknown Celine Dion.
The soundtrack has been reissued once before, preceding an IMAX reissue in 2001. That CD added a song from a newly-completed musical sequence ("Human Again") and three demo tracks as bonuses. Unfortunately, those tracks (including "Human Again") have been dropped for this new release - tied to the forthcoming Blu-Ray release of the film - and replaced by a new pop version of the title track by American Idol winner Jordin Sparks. Ultimately, this set, due September 14, is only worth it if you've never managed to pick up the soundtrack and can do without the songs from the vault. Pre-order it here and hit the jump for the track list.
Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, Beauty and the Beast: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Walt Disney Records, 2010 - originally released as Walt Disney Records WDR 36003-2, 1991 and reissued as 60743-7, 2001)
- Prologue - 2:26
- Belle - 5:09
- Belle (Reprise) - 1:05
- Gaston - 3:40
- Gaston (Reprise) - 2:04
- Be Our Guest - 3:44
- Something There - 2:19
- The Mob Song - 3:30
- Beauty and the Beast - 2:46
- To the Fair - 1:58
- West Wing - 3:42
- The Beast Lets Belle Go - 2:22
- Battle on the Tower - 5:29
- Transformation - 5:47
- Beauty and the Beast - Celine Dion & Peabo Bryson - 4:04
- Beauty and the Beast (New Version) - Jordin Sparks*
Tracks 2-9 are songs, Tracks 1 and 10-14 are score tracks. * indicates bonus track.