The Second Disc

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It Moves Us All: “Lion King” Compilation Coming Soon

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Walt Disney Records builds upon the excitement of the forthcoming Blu-Ray release (and 3-D theatrical reissue) of the studio’s classic The Lion King by releasing a new compilation, available now, in honor of the timeless film.

Anyone with a shred of doubt in The Walt Disney Company’s ability to turn out great animated features after Disney’s passing in 1966 had their fears allayed in 1989, with the release of The Little Mermaid, a high watermark of animated storytelling and musical scoring. Within the next five years, the company would release two more modern classics: 1991’s Beauty and the Beast (the first traditionally hand-drawn feature nominated for Best Picture) and 1992’s Aladdin, and the magic of Disney was firmly reasserted.

But even the biggest fan of Mickey Mouse couldn’t have predicted what was in store in 1994, with the release of The Lion King. Featuring gorgeously recreated interpretations of the African savannah and its animal inhabitants and a stirring narrative (loosely based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet) about a young lion prince whose treacherous uncle steals the throne, forcing him to grow up and reclaim his birthright, the film would have succeeded on those merits alone.

Of course, Disney added that extra magic in the form of tremendous, Broadway-ready music to add further color to the film. But rather than seek out the work of Alan Menken – the Little Shop of Horrors composer who won Oscars for his work on MermaidBeauty and Aladdin (alongside late, great lyricist Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, already legendary for his lyrics to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) – Disney sought a megastar in Elton John. The singer-songwriter’s star was beginning to rise after battling vocal troubles and other personal issues during the latter portion of the ’80s, and with Rice penning the lyrics to “Circle of Life,” “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” among others, The Lion King‘s soundtrack went to the stratosphere, winning Oscars, Golden Globes and Grammys and selling some 15 million copies.

The film’s musical legacy has endured, past the work of John, Rice, score composer Hans Zimmer and arranger Lebo M. The latter, a South African arranger/composer, oversaw a 1995 follow-up album, Rhythm of the Pride Lands, and John and Rice expanded their score (including some of Zimmer’s work) for the Tony-winning Broadway adaptation that opened in 1997 and continues to run. (Additionally, Lebo M contributed to portions of the scores to direct-to-video sequels The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride (1998) and The Lion King 1 1/2 (2004).)

The new compilation, simply titled The Best of The Lion King, collects tunes as heard in the three films, the Rhythm of the Pride Lands album and the Broadway musical, giving new listeners a good chance to hear this great music for the first time.

Order your copy and check the track list out after the jump.

Various Artists, The Best of The Lion King (Walt Disney Records D0013779-02, 2011)

  1. Circle of Life – Carmen Twillie and Lebo M.
  2. I Just Can’t Wait to Be King – Jason Weaver, Niketa Calame and Rowan Atkinson
  3. Can You Feel the Love Tonight – Jason Williams and Moira Kelly with Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella
  4. Warthog Rhapsody – Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella
  5. Lea Halalela – Khululiwe Sithole and Lebo M
  6. Hakuna Matata – Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella
  7. Digga Tunnah Dance – Lebo M and Vinx
  8. Upendi – Robert Guillaume, Liz Callaway, Gene Miller and Ladysmith Black Mambazo
  9. One of Us – Original Cast and Chorus
  10. The Lion Sleeps Tonight – Lebo M
  11. Be Prepared – John Vickery
  12. They Live in You – Samuel E. Wright

Tracks 1-3 from The Lion King: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Walt Disney Records 60858-7, 1994)
Tracks 4-5 from Rhythm of the Pride Lands (Walt Disney Records 60871-7, 1995)
Tracks 6-7 from The Lion King 1 1/2: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Walt Disney Records 61046-7, 2004)
Tracks 8-9 from Return to Pride Rock (Walt Disney Records 60639-7, 1998)
Tracks 10-12 from The Lion King: Original Broadway Cast Recording (Walt Disney Records 60802-7, 1997)

Written by Mike Duquette

September 14, 2011 at 11:26

One Response

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  1. If they’d included either version of “We Are One” and the powerful “One By One” this would be killer. As it is, I’ll keep my self-made compilation.


    September 14, 2011 at 14:08

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