Robin Hood: Disney's Legacy Collection soundtrack review
Disney has been revisiting soundtracks to their classic films in recent years through what they are titling “The Legacy Collection” series. Each volume has contained a CD of the remastered original score along with a second disc of demos, outtakes and other curious rarities that enriches the listening experience. The series was kicked off in 2014 with its inaugural volume: The Lion King. Considering the Collection’s release schedule had been dormant for a couple of years it was with pleasant surprise that the series was unexpectedly revitalized earlier this month with its 13th volume: Robin Hood! Packaged in a small hardbound book with sleeves to house the CDs and generous pages of liner notes and art, this release is a winner in both content and presentation.
The book’s essays cover, among other topics, the folklore of the Robin Hood hero, how the Disney company settled on adapting it for its own vision and the backstory of bringing it onto the big screen. Profiles of the voice actors and the process of selecting them for the film are included. (Brian Bedford, for example, was chosen for his “smooth” and “sophisticated” delivery to give voice to the title character.) Lyrics for the songs, the personnel of the music's orchestra are also duly noted. There are also a few pages of pre-production art that I don’t believe has been shared by Disney before. One particularly charming drawing of note depicts our hero romantically engaging Maid Marion as she sits on a swing.
The audio quality presented on this edition is a mix that is crisp and clear, if not as fully dynamic as one would hope, but understandable considering the source material resulting from the recording technologies of the time. All the familiar tracks sung by and about the characters are contained here, including the Academy-award nominated “Love” (which, in an error in the liner notes, is replaced by “Oo-De-Lally” as the song that appears in The Fantastic Mr. Fox). The majority of the tracks consist of composer George Bruns’ instrumental music that, even without the accompanying dialog, will be instantly familiar with any fan who has seen the film over a dozen times or more. Perhaps my only request for this presentation would to have brief interjections of choice dialog from the major characters placed thoughtfully throughout, as the film's voice-acting is exceptionally splendid from all involved. The first disc runs over an hour’s worth of material.
The bonus disc is where fans will want to immediately dive into, as it contains alternative versions of some key tracks including a ragtime-style version of “Whistle Stop” that is pure delight. Another notable selection is an alternate version of “Love” as sung by the character of Robin Hood himself (in this instance singer Pete Renoudet takes on vocal duties from Bedford). A particularly head-scratching addition in the bonus disc material are a series of songs performed by the character of The Jungle Book’s King Louie (as voiced by Louis Prima) that reimagines the orangutan and our outlaw fox sharing the same universe and being the best of friends! Perhaps Disney was foreseeing the possibility of a “shared universe” that has become so prevalent today among modern-day superhero and action films? This second disc runs at just under a half-hour’s worth of music.
I’ve covered only a fraction of what to expect when experiencing this fine collection, and there are still many intriguing pieces of information found inside that I haven’t spoiled yet. I would encourage you to consider purchase of the physical CD for the handsome packaging, but I see that iTunes also has the album to purchase digitally with an accompanying “booklet” that likely includes all the content from the physical release.
A 10 out of 10 score from me!