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Disney In Depth: ‘The Legacy Collection: Toy Story’ CD Review
Brett Nachman   |  @   |  

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Walt Disney Records’ The Legacy Collection has honored film music celebrating milestones, from The Lion King‘s 20th anniversary to Sleeping Beauty‘s 55th. Finally, this line enters Disney”¢Pixar territory in honoring Toy Story turning 20. Happily, The Legacy Collection: Toy Story, which reaches for the sky, flies with style.

“Andy’s Birthday,” a six-minute track found on the original Toy Story soundtrack, instead is broken up into several tracks on this new Legacy Collection album. This works in separating the scenes and applies to many of the other tracks, many of which are less than a minute long. The film’s three main songs (“You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” “Strange Things,” and “I Will Go Sailing No More”) sound as good as ever before, as each of them was remastered for the Legacy Collection.

Randy Newman performs his Academy Award-winning song “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” in this jazz concert performance video below.

A few notable and novel tracks are the 37-second “A Good Soldier Never Leaves a Man Behind” from the initial scene with the Green Army Men and “Presents: Who Invited That Kid,” complete with elements of Randy Newman’s ragtime style and a sense of peril with the masterful musician’s manipulation of string instruments. The other new tracks include “What Are You Doing Under the Bed” (a brief 23 seconds), “Woody/Bo Peep,” a similarly short segment that simply covers just a passing moment,” and “Virtual Realty,” a lush little cue. Set in the gas station scene, “Buzz You’re Alive!” and “Buzz and Woody Fight” bring listeners back to the iconic duel of the toys, never previously distributed outside of the film context. Likewise, “Buzz’s Mission” commands with its grand space command tune, essentially Buzz Lightyear’s theme.

Toy Story connoisseurs will also recognize that the “Pizza Planet Rock” track is also new to this release. This brief heavy metal piece, heard in the film during Woody’s dangerous Pizza Planet truck ride, is a welcome addition. “Buzz Lightyear Commercial” comes directly from the portion when Buzz discovers he is, in fact, a children’s toy. Solely instrumental, this similarly hard rock piece is intense and heart-pounding awesomeness. I can just picture Penn Jillette’s narration from the film. “Strange Things” begins with a few seconds of additional instrumentation never previously featured.

Standout returning pieces of music, albeit some with different titles on this release, include militaristic-sounding “Code Red,” imperial “Buzz Revealed,” motivating “It’s a Spaceship, Buzz,” grim “The Claw,” and the soaring “To Infinity and Beyond” ending.

Check out how Toy Story was depicted in this initial trailer from 1995, featured below.

The new “Out the Window” track contains cues from moments earlier heard in Andy’s Bedroom. The ironic-sounding title of “Working Together (Leads to Failure)” possesses an optimistic tone with an underlying pulsating rhythm. “End Credits,” self-explanatory, carries that sentimental and bright feeling with a compilation of identifiable orchestration from Toy Story, including the “To Infinity and Beyond” finale.

The entire Legacy Collection soundtrack is some 15 minutes longer than the 1995 album, thus making this a more complete experience. Complemented by the beautiful liner notes and artwork, this release is truly for the Toy Story collector. As far as the liner notes, the commentary come from two of the film’s most “instrumental” players: Randy Newman, its composer, and John Lasseter, the movie’s famed director. Lasseter discusses the challenge in developing a Disney animated picture without musical elements, since the early 1990s was defined by that genre. Enter Newman. Lasseter, long a fan of the singer-songwriter’s work in films like The Natural and Ragtime, sought out the composer for creating Toy Story‘s songs and score. Newman gives his take on working on the project with his usual wry style and quick wit. His thoughts on the omission of gospel-sounding “The Fool” is signature Newman: sly and funny.

It took Newman another several years to earn his first Academy Award (for Monsters, Inc.), though Lasseter was at the microphone accepting the prestigious accolade following Toy Story‘s release. For a trip down Toy Story‘s memory lane, check out this video from the Oscars YouTube channel of John Lasseter receiving a Special Achievement Oscar for developing the first computer-animated feature film.

Along with the liner notes are lyrics for the three songs found in the film and more than a dozen pages of artwork. Drawings of Woody and Buzz during various stages of development show the evolution of the unforgettable characters. Sketches of other toys, from Hamm to Bo Peep, comprise many of the pages. These elements are emblematic of the Legacy Collection releases. Rich for the eyes, the visual content allows us to further appreciate the magical sounds that emit from the soundtrack. Needless to say, it’s all appealing and the physical edition of the soundtrack – not the digital edition – is a must for those seeking the comprehensive package. Lorelay Bové, a most talented artist from Walt Disney Animation Studios, once again is responsible for adorning the cover of the soundtrack with her most lovely interpretation of the protagonists.

Anyone who already owns the previous release might be disappointed for the lack of “new” content, save for a slightly more extensive score and the second disc, which contains instrumental tracks of the songs and some demos by Newman. However, for those new to having Toy Story in their soundtrack selections, this Legacy Collection edition deserves a place. Its crips audio quality, visual accompaniment, and overall experience are top-notch. The lack of extra new content is only a minor setback. Newman often does not earn enough respect for his priceless contributions and accomplishments in both film and music, but The Legacy Collection: Toy Story honors his first and best Pixar soundtrack most excellently.

Grade: B+

'The Legacy Collection: Toy Story' CD Cover

This is Brett Nachman, signing off. Follow me on Twitter for alerts of new editions of Disney In Depth on Geeks of Doom.

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