In every job that must be done
There is an element of fun
You find the fun, and - SNAP!
The job's a game!
-Julie Andrews, "A Spoonful of Sugar," Mary Poppins (song written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman)
There's certainly an element of fun in catalog music, particularly catalog soundtracks, particularly the somehow oft-ignored discography of The Walt Disney Company. Disney's somewhat passive approach to a catalog initiative (tempered by their licensing deal with the Intrada label) finally made an about face this spring with the announcement of several titles in "The Legacy Collection": expanded anniversary editions of classic Disney film soundtracks with gorgeous artwork to match. The Lion King was the first title in the line, released this week, and August will see the release of the next: a 50th anniversary edition of the music to Mary Poppins.
As dramatized in last year's Saving Mr. Banks, Walt Disney was an unabashed fan of P.L. Travers' series of children's books about a magical nanny. Travers was reticent to allow her books to be adapted, but ultimately allowed Disney to pursue the idea. The result, though somewhat deviated from the books, was pure Disney magic: Julie Andrews (star of My Fair Lady and Camelot on Broadway but untested enough onscreen to be replaced for the My Fair Lady film adaptation by Audrey Hepburn) as the practically perfect heroine, bona-fide TV star Dick Van Dyke as the everyman/one man band/pavement artist/chimney sweep Bert, great supporting turns by David Tomlinson, Glynis Johns and Ed Wynn, a stunning multimedia presentation (that deftly mixed live action with animation in several key sequences)...and the songs.
Brothers Richard and Robert Sherman were already known quantities in both the songwriting world ("You're Sixteen") and on the Disney backlot (Annette Funicello's Top 10 hit "Tall Paul," simple, singable and sincere tunes for 1964 World's Fair and Disneyland attractions) when Walt asked "the boys" to compose a song score for Poppins. But who could have imagined just what a triumph it would be? With instant standards like "A Spoonful of Sugar," "Jolly Holiday," "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" (a song this author is proud to have typed from memory) and "Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag)" - a song that Walt would often ask the Shermans to play for him, just because - Mary Poppins remains one of the brightest works of art in the Disney canon. Ultimately, the film won five Oscars, including two trophies for the Sherman Brothers and one for Julie Andrews, winning Best Actress over - you guessed it - Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. (Disney passed away in 1966, leaving Poppins as the company's last major work he lived to see to completion.)
So how is Disney's Legacy Collection celebrating this soundtrack masterpiece? Hit the jump to find out!
While the Legacy Collection version of The Lion King was a two-disc affair, Poppins will be featured across three discs. Much of this material has been heard before: Discs 1 and 3 (featuring vintage story conferences between the Shermans, musical director Don DiGradi and author Travers, plus interviews with cast and crew) were in fact released as a handsome 40th anniversary edition in 2004. But Disc 2 features some very exciting treats for fans: 15 "pre-demos" recorded by the Shermans during pre-production of the film, including a handful of songs that never made it to the final film. (A smattering of these recordings were heard on the deluxe edition of the film score to Saving Mr. Banks.) Additionally, seven of the unused tracks have been re-recorded as "Lost Chords" versions - intriguing full arrangements of the tracks with talented voice actors to imagine what final film versions might sound like. Several songs will be immediately familiar to longtime Poppins fanatics, including favorite demos "The Eyes of Love," "The Chimpanzoo" and "The Land of Sand," which was rewritten and repurposed for 1967's The Jungle Book. The disc will close out with the rare original LP version of the film's overture.
The Legacy Collection of Mary Poppins looks to brilliantly continue this exciting product line when it's released August 26. Pre-order links are now active, and the official track list is below.
Mary Poppins: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - The Legacy Collection (Walt Disney Records, 2014) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. )
Disc 1: Original soundtrack (this arrangement first released as Walt Disney Records 61202-7, 2004)
- Buena Vista Fanfare
- Overture *
- One Man Band
- Sister Suffragette - Glynis Johns with Hermione Baddeley & Reta Shaw *
- The Life I Lead - David Tomlinson *
- The Perfect Nanny - Karen Dotrice & Matthew Garber *
- Air Mail/Admiral Boom/The Not-So-Perfect Nannies/Mary Poppins Arrives
- A Spoonful of Sugar - Julie Andrews *
- Pavement Artist - Dick Van Dyke *
- Jolly Holiday - Julie Andrews & Dick Van Dyke with Bill Lee, Ginny Tyler, Paul Frees, Marc Breaux, Marni Nixon & Thurl Ravenscroft *
- Jolly Holiday (Reprise) - Julie Andrews & Dick Van Dyke with Daws Butler, Peter Ellenshaw, Dal McKennon, J. Pat O'Malley, Richard Sherman & David Tomlinson
- Penguin Dance
- The Carousel Horses
- Supercailfragilisticexpialidocious - Julie Andrews & Dick Van Dyke with Richard Sherman & J. Pat O'Malley *
- Pavement Artist (Reprise) - Dick Van Dyke
- Stay Awake - Julie Andrews *
- Trouble At Uncle Albert's
- I Love to Laugh - Ed Wynn, Julie Andrews & Dick Van Dyke *
- A British Bank (The Life I Lead) - David Tomlinson & Julie Andrews *
- Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag) - Julie Andrews *
- Father's Footsteps
- Fidelity Fiduciary Bank - David Tomlinson and "Nackvid Keyd" with Arthur Malet, Bill Lee, Thurl Ravenscroft, Allan Davies & William R. Cole *
- Panic At the Bank
- Chim Chim Cher-ee/March Over the Rooftops - Dick Van Dyke, Julie Andrews, Karen Dotrice & Matthew Garber *
- Step in Time - Dick Van Dyke, The Chimney Sweep Chorus & Cast *
- A Man Has Dreams (The Life I Lead/A Spoonful of Sugar) - David Tomlinson & Dick Van Dyke *
- Mr. Banks is Discharged
- Let's Go Fly a Kite - David Tomlinson, Dick Van Dyke, The Londoners & Cast *
* edits first released on Buena Vista Records LP 4026, 1964
Disc 2: Pre-Demos and Lost Chords (previously unreleased except where noted)
- The Perfect Nanny (Pre-Demo) - Richard M. Sherman & Robert B. Sherman
- Jolly Holiday (Pre-Demo) - Richard M. Sherman & Robert B. Sherman
- The Pearly Song (Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious) (Pre-Demo) - Richard M. Sherman & Robert B. Sherman *
- Stay Awake (Pre-Demo) - Richard M. Sherman
- Chim Chim Cher-ee (Pre-Demo) - Richard M. Sherman & Robert B. Sherman *
- I Love to Laugh (Pre-Demo) - Richard M. Sherman & Robert B. Sherman
- Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag) (Pre-Demo) - Richard M. Sherman *
- Let's Go Fly a Kite (Pre-Demo) - Richard M. Sherman & Robert B. Sherman *
- Mary Poppins Melody (Pre-Demo) - Richard M. Sherman & Robert B. Sherman
- Mary Poppins Melody (New Recording) - Kate Higgins
- Admiral Boom (Demo) - Richard M. Sherman
- Admiral Boom (New Recording) - Randy Crenshaw, Jeff Gunn & Dennis Kyle
- The Right Side (Pre-Demo) - Richard M. Sherman & Robert B. Sherman
- The Right Side (New Recording) - Juliana Hansen
- The Chimpanzoo (Demo) - Richard M. Sherman
- The Chimpanzoo (New Recording) - Bob Joyce, Jeff Gunn, Randy Crenshaw & Dennis Kyle
- The Land of Sand (Pre-Demo) - Richard M. Sherman & Robert B. Sherman
- The Land of Sand (New Recording) - Kate Higgins, Juliana Hansen, Jeff Gunn & Bob Joyce
- The North Pole Polka (Pre-Demo) - Richard M. Sherman
- The North Pole Polka (New Recording) - Jeff Gunn, Bob Joyce, Richard M. Sherman, Kate Higgins & Dennis Kyle
- The Eyes of Love (Pre-Demo) - Richard M. Sherman
- The Eyes of Love (New Recording) - Juliana Hansen
- Overture (LP Version) (from Buena Vista Records LP 4026, 1964)
* first released on Saving Mr. Banks: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - Deluxe Edition (Walt Disney Records D0019311-02, 2013)
Disc 3: Story Meeting Excerpts with P.L. Travers and bonus material (first released as Walt Disney Records 61202-7, 2004 except where noted)
- Cherry Tree Lane
- Mr. Banks Decided to Hire a Nanny Himself
- The Children Write Their Own Advertisement
- The Line of Applicants/Mary Poppins Arrives
- Notes on Mary Meeting The Banks
- Up to the Nursery
- Bert and the Talking Pictures
- A Carousel Horse Ride to the Seashore
- The Return Home
- The Next Morning We Meet the Seweep
- Uncle Albert's
- A Change in the Wind and An Adventure with Admiral Boom
- The Bird Woman
- Mr. Banks and The Compass
- The Compass Sequence: Timbuktu
- The Compass Sequence: The Land of Sand
- The Compass Sequence: Tea in China
- The Compass Sequence: The North Pole
- The Return Home
- Everyone Descends on Cherry Tree Lane
- Mary Departs
- Hollywood Spotlight Microphone Interview, 1964
- The Sherman Brothers Reminisce (also released on Walt Disney Records CD016, 1989)
Hi, a question: these "pre-demos", are they instrumental versions or there's a vocal, and in this case do you know who's singing? I don't really think I'd be interested in a bunch of instrumental pre-demos...
By the way the re-recordings, or any kind of messing with and refurbishing old material, seems always pretty pointless to me
Joe Marchese says
The pre-demos, as indicated above, are performed by Dick and Bob Sherman at the piano, with Dick usually on lead vocals. The tracks I've heard have been completely fascinating.
The Lost Chords series is actually quite wonderful. Previous entries have included CINDERELLA, THE RESCUERS and THE ARISTOCATS. This series isn't a series of re-recordings, per se; rather, it presents songs that previously existed only in demo or sheet music form in fully-orchestrated versions for the very first time. Dick Sherman has participated in a number of these new recordings, and is very involved. The Lost Chords really is a labor of love for the Walt Disney Records team, and - in my humble opinion - an important project, too, to preserve these previously unheard songs for future generations.
Thanks Joe. I didn't noticed you mentioned in your review that the pre-demos came with vocals
This looks to be a fantastic series .. I hope Disney will stay the course for the three years after the initial 2-year release schedule. I love my new LION KING cd with the additional score ... well worth the money! Would love to see BEAUTY AND THE BEAST get the same treatment in 2016, along with other titles celebrating their anniversaries in the years to come. Thanks!
(sigh) Okay Disney... you got me again. Yes I have the 40th anniversary edition. Yes I have the Saving Mr. Banks deluxe edition. But... yes... I'll end up buying this one too. Somehow I end up with just about every edition they put out. I even had the first CD edition... without the tambourine "whack" after "Now me girl's me wife" in "Supercali..." (that one's up for sale on eBay as I type this) Now we just need the foreign language editions...
This seems to expand upon the 50th Anniversary UK edition released late last year. This looks amazing. The Lion King Legacy Edition is fabulous so I am excited to get more in this series.
Herb P. says
I's still like the Marni Nixon, Bill Lee "Mary Poppins."
Kevin Parcher says
The positives here are the Lost Chords section and the LP version of the Overture. The Lost Chords are songs that were eliminated during the planning stages of the film, some which we have heard via Richard Sherman's demo recordings (such as "The Chimpanzoo"). Here, they are fully orchestrated, sung by professionals, and are a lot of fun. It is nice to finally have the longer Overture; in the film, the Overture fades into Bert's one man band sequence, which makes sense in the film. As a strictly aural experience, I prefer the grand ending Irwin Kostal created for the LP Overture.
However, I can't really accept this as a "Legacy" collection because there are things missing. There were several other LP tracks that differed from the actual movie soundtrack, and I would have liked them to have been included here. For example, "A Spoonful of Sugar" on the LP had a shorter instrumental section but more (delightful) whistling by Julie Andrews and a vocal tag that ended the song nicely (again, the aural experience vs the visual); "Jolly Holiday" has slightly different banter between Mary and Bert; these may seem minor things, but if this is a "Legacy" collection they should be included. Until Mary appeared on home video in 1980, the LP was all of the movie we had at home. A "Legacy" collection should reflect that part of Mary's history. (As a side note, the LP was described as "Original Cast Album", not "Original Soundtrack Album". This was accurate due to the alternate recordings used.)
Also part of Mary's history was the wonderful recording by Marni Nixon on Disneyland records, and the storybook album (using those tracks) narrated by the talented Dal McKennon. Although Julie Andrews will always be the true Mary Poppins, Marni's recording has many charms and many of us had that recording before we had the soundtrack LP. I would have much preferred those albums rather than the Travers story sessions. Why use full-range CD audio for those low-fidelity story recordings? They would be better served as an audio supplement on the DVD of the film, anyway. Use the better audio capability of CD for more music.
The soundtrack disc is the same as was previously released, so the individual will have to decide if the price is worth it for the LP Overture and The Lost Chords. It was for me, but I guess I will have to wait for the 60th Anniversary edition for the rest of the "Legacy" to be released.
Joe Marchese says
A release of the original LP along with the Marni Nixon studio cast recording would make a practically perfect two-fer, wouldn't it? I, too, was surprised that the original LP versions (save the Overture) weren't included on this otherwise truly exceptional volume.
What's really fantastic here, and of enormous interest, are the Shermans demos, so bare, so true, so beautiful. I can't talk myself into being interested in the "lost chords" reconstructions, with the singers and the orchestra trying to ape of-the-time arrangements; like so many similar projects nowadays, even if I admit they're made with taste and respect - they're still a forgery, and they're still utterly preposterous.