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Blog, Music, Records
Posted on Nov 12 2011 by Greg
Thanks to Kritzerland Records, there's a landmark soundtrack SPECIAL EDITION CD release of the Sherman Brothers classic score to CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG with expanded songs, tons of extra material, just a dream come true for fans.

From the Screen Archives Entertainment site:

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was originally released on LP on United Artists Records (the film was distributed by UA). As was usual back then, songs were truncated, the mixes were occasionally weird, and no underscore was used. There have been two previous CD releases -- one on Ryko, who added dialogue snippets throughout the album, and then on Varese Sarabande (who omitted the dialogue snippets but basically used the Ryko master).

For our Very Very Special Special edition, we went back to the first generation album master there was, of course, no way to change the mix or the generous amount of reverb used, but our masterful mastering engineer, James Nelson, has worked as much magic as humanly possible to optimize the sound present on those original album masters.

We've also included the film's "Entr'Acte," the original "Main Title" (much longer than the album version -- presented here with sound effects, which are actually fun and sort of go with the music), and the film mix of the  'Exit Music. ' Following that, we give you the complete song and picture book album tracks, released concurrently with the soundtrack, and which features Richard M. Sherman himself singing, along with other vocalists, all conducted by Leroy Holmes.

On CD 2, we're very pleased to present all the film's demo recordings by Richard Sherman. Finally, we had access to all of the playback tracks used during filming. These were all in mono and not that great sounding, but we've included several of them because they were material not included on the original album. These include another version of the title song (with quite a long instrumental), an instrumental called  "The Vulgarian Anthem," an instrumental of the "Chu-Chi Face" waltz, and a bit of the "Doll On A Music Box" not included on the original LP. Again, the sound on the playback tapes had distortion and not optimal sound, and mixes that were prepared specifically to be lip-synched to on set. But we thought they were of enough historical importance to include them.

Disc 1
1. Main Title
2. You Two
3. Toot Sweets
4. Hushabye Mountain
5. Me Ol' Bamboo
6. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
7. Truly Scrumptious
8. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (reprise)
9. Entr'Acte
10. Lovely, Lonely Man
11. Posh!
12. Hushabye Mountain (reprise)
13. The Roses Of Success
14. Chu-Chi Face
15. Doll On A Music Box & Truly Scrumptious
16. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Finale
17. Exit Music

Bonus Tracks
18. Main Title (Film Version with sound effects)
19. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Finale (Film Mix)
20. Exit Music (Film Mix)
Soundtrack Conducted by Irwin Kostal

The Song and Picture Book Album - Richard Sherman & Lola Fisher
21. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
22. You Two
23. Toot Sweets
24. Hushabye Mountain
25. Me Ol' Bamboo
26. Lovely, Lonely Man
27. Posh
28. Doll On A Music Box & Truly Scrumptious
29. Chu-Chi Face
30. The Roses Of Success

Disc 2
The Richard Sherman Demos
1. You Two
2. Toot Sweets
3. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
4. Truly Scrumptious
5. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 2
6. Lovely, Lonely Man
7. Posh
8. Hushabye Mountain
9. The Vulgarian Anthem
10. The Roses Of Success
11. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (children's reprise)
12. Hushabye Mountain (Grandfather's reprise)
13. Fun Fair
14. Lovely, Lonely Man/ Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Finale

The Playback Tracks
15. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 1
16. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 2
17. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 3
18. The Vulgarian Anthem
19. Chu-Chi Face Waltz
20. Doll On A Music Box Parts 1-3

Blog, Movies
Posted on Nov 11 2011 by Greg
Walt Disney's childhood idyll of a farm family life is the stuff of legend and has influenced many a Disney film and theme park. I can also be said that John Lasseter's childhood of road trips in the southwest, small towns that no longer exist due to superhighways and a love of automobiles is directly attached to what is now two Cars movies.

Most critics have been less than kind regarding Disney•Pixar's Cars 2, but the public is clearly honing in on Lasseter's wavelength and responding with enthusiasm (and strong summer box office and huge DVD sales) for the sequel especially for Mater, who takes center stage in this family-friendly spy thriller.

In the -- THANK YOU!! -- audio commentary, Lasseter and co-director Brad Lewis offer lots of cool factoids as well as their reasoning behind the creative decisions.

Lasseter says, "When we do a sequel, it's not just to retread the same emotional story that the original is. We want to find something new and something different." Little of the movie takes place in Radiator Springs, but rather in colorful, exciting international locales that offer the Pixar artists a chance to dazzle with truly breathtaking aerial views and meticulous details, which I find most enjoyable in high-def Blu-ray (3-D is nice, but you lose some clarlty and I'd rather revel in the details).

Lasseter also mentions that the story for Cars 2 sprang from a scene in the first film in which Lightning and Sally (who is not given enough to do in the sequel) see a spy thriller at a drive-in. He loved spy movies as a kid, particularly likes the Bourne series and
bourne movies and believes that Cars 2 isn't a spy movie spoof so much as a solid story that can stand on its own.

I personally found Cars 2 to be a throwback to the spy shows and films that I grew up with, like The Avengers, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Secret Agent and even Get Smart. These were all somewhat comedic as well as thrilling (especially Smart of course) -- but of all the spy genre films, Cars 2 reminded me most of one of my favorites theatrical features, Hanna-Barbera's The Man Called Flintstone.

My I favor you with a parody of the unforgettable theme to this epic adventure, with special Cars 2 lyrics?


Who do they call
When gears are startin’ to fall
When all the oil is spillin’
And synth fuels beginnin’ to brew?
The truck called Mater, that’s who-oo-oo-oo!

Who’s always there,
There to shoot and fly through the air
Who defeats Pacers and Gremlins
And all those cars we disliked too?
The truck called Mater, that’s who-oo-oo-oo!

He screams after eating wasabi
Down to the lobby
To learn the charms
Of the Japanese joh–onnns!

Who is the truck
Who succeeds with mostly dumb luck
While his pal Lightning is winning
Who’s spinning the crooks like fan belts?
The truck called Mater!
Who else, who else, who ELLLLLse!!

One final note on Cars 2 -- I drove a Gremlin in college and was hysterical with laughter that it and the Pacer were held is such comical "esteem" in Cars 2. They earned the distinction, to be sure.

Blog, News and Events
Posted on Nov 09 2011 by Greg
Staring tonight, various stations are airing an episode of TV Confidential in which my own self is interviewed about Disney music and Mouse Tracks.
Tuesday 11/15
12:05am ET / 9:05pm PT

It will then become available for listening on demand at and as beginning Wednesday 11/16.

All the episodes of TV Confidential are also available for download on iTunes.

Blog, TV
Posted on Nov 05 2011 by Greg
Even though studios other than Disney, who owns Marvel, have their names on the recent hit live action movies based on the characters (Captain America, Thor, etc.), Disney owns the licenses and is now releasing some of most recent animated TV episodes featuring Iron Man, X-Men, and The Avengers.

Volumes 1 and 2, released a few months back, contained episodes that traced the origins of several characters and their assemblage into the powerful, but (in the Marvel tradition) angst-filled, dysfunctional crime fighting Avengers family.

Since the two new DVDs  -- Volume 3: Iron Man Unleased and Volume 4: Thor's Last Stand -- offer 13 additional episodes, all interconnected in some way by story arcs and character relationships, it's tricky business for the uninitiated to start with them "cold," though each set includes one fact-filled "Avengers Unmasked" version of a key episode as a bonus feature.

This information comes in mighty handy, even as a refresher. Part of the fun of the Marvel Avengers is keeping track of who's got a beef with whom, which couples are an "item," and which villains are either bent on controlling the galaxy or just tortured souls who are lashing out.

Therein lies the Marvel charm: the good guys are not perfect, they bicker and even hurt each other, yet united they are the only hope against the total destruction of the entire universe, which is threatened roughly every four episodes.

I know that's a little snide. Actually, the stories are laced with humor, characters are always given opportunities for development between battles, and the animation is staged with the epic scope of a blockbuster Hollywood action movie. This is quality stuff.

But if you don't know the Wasp from the Enchantress, you'll enjoy following the proceedings in Vols. 2 and 3 by either watching 1 and 2 first or catching up with the "Unmasked" features.

Blog, Movies
Posted on Nov 03 2011 by Greg
It wasn't loaded with special effects, blaring music, big splashy stars or explosions. Summer 2011's Disney theatrical release, Winnie the Pooh, was exactly the kind of animated film Walt Disney was making in the late '50s/early '60s -- not sweeping epics, nor pop music short packages, but simple, glowing stories packed with rich characterizations (both in writing and animation), superb voice work and hummable tunes.

Some found this film to be too much of a throwback, but how many modern films can truly rekindle the texture and charm of a classic without succumbing to the present day trappings and trends? Like the TV series Seinfeld was in its deceptively self effacing claim to be "about nothing," Pooh's power shines in his basic plotlines, only without the cynicism. A.A. Milne's books had slim storylines, too, and attempts to clutter them have met with mixed results.

First and foremost, Winnie the Pooh is one of the funniest movies of the year. I don't say this with any hint of irony or sarcasm, it's just true. Without messing around with the characters or updating the humor, you find yourself laughing at the clever "who's on first" wordplay. Pooh and pals may be guileless, a bit deluded and sometimes clueless, but they're not stupid or held to ridicule. This is very, very hard humor to pull off successfully.

The most clueless character of all is Owl, a character never fully realized in past Poohs but brought to scene-stealing fervor by the sharp vocal timing of Craig Ferguson, who with narrator John Cleese and Zooey Deschanel, are as far as the voice casting ventured into celebrity (but with respect to suitability, not just fame). Cheers to the creative team for retaining the seemingly endless talents of Jim Cummings as Pooh and Piglet rather than hiring a marquee name and wrecking the character for an easy marketing hook. Tom Kenny also does a wonderfully neurotic Rabbit, and my kids got a kick out of hearing wisps of his Spongebob voice peeking out within the characterization.

The musical score by Robert Rodriguez and Kristen Anderson-Rodriguez (she also voices Kanga) is a tribute to the Sherman Brothers' art of the deceptively simple and infinitely singable song. I can't help but assume that the chorus singing "hunny, hunny..." was a nod to the Wonderful World of Color theme ("color,  color...").

The Blu-ray looks marvelous, but I was a little let down by the lack of extras. No commentary, not much behind the scenes stuff, pretty lacking all around. Most interesting were the deleted scenes. Charming as they were, the scenes were cut because, it seems from the explanation, to keep the story focused and evenhanded. Although Owl is a scene stealer, he's never the complete focus. Each character gets a sufficient time to shine, even "B'loon." The filmmakers even resisted padding the feature to make it longer, instead adding on The Ballad of Nessie (another film that could have been released in the early Disney/Pooh days). Historically, Dumbo was a short feature too, but it's a gem at its ideal running time.

I can only hope they're saving some additional features for a reissue in the future, because this Pooh should not get lost in a sea of direct-to-video movies. Not to slight them all (many were very nice), but it's pretty crowded out there with Pooh videos. Maybe that's why the title is simply "Winnie the Pooh" with no subtitle, in order to set it apart from the pack.

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