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When Tim Burton worked as an animator for Disney back in the early 1980s, he wrote a three-page poem called The Nightmare Before Christmas. That poem evolved over the next decade, and in 1993, after coordinating with composer Danny Elfman, Burton released the animated musical through Disney's Touchstone Pictures.
Today, The Nightmare Before Christmas has become a classic, and to celebrate its 15th year, Walt Disney Records has released Nightmare Revisited, a delightful updated interpretation of the movie's original soundtrack. What makes this version unique is the slate of musicians that have been called in to perform the songs. Even instrumental tracks, like the opening "Overture," "Nabbed" and the final "End Title" are given a fresh new sound, in this case by DeVotchka, Yoshida Brothers and The Album Leaf, respectively.
Elfman remains on two of the tracks -- he provides the monologues on the spoken "Opening" and "Closing." But the rest of the disc is turned over to a new and enthusiastic group of musicians, who embrace the endearingly ghoulish mood of this inimitable soundtrack.
Everything about this new incarnation is a delight, from the well-designed packaging to the artist selection for each song. Marilyn Manson immediately adds a more sinister appeal to the quirky and memorable, "This Is Halloween," but it fits perfectly. Even for those unfamiliar with the story of Jack Skellington, this spooky version is a genuine treat.
The wonderful thing about this soundtrack is its ability to convey the story so well -- something not all soundtracks accomplish. On "What's This," Flyleaf's Lacey Mosley does an exceptional job of capturing the mystery and confusion that accompanies experiencing winter's traditions for the first time.
It proves to be the perfect lead-in to "Town Meeting Song," which is delivered in grand style by The Polyphonic Spree. This track is an excellent example of what a fine songwriter Elfman is, and as the character of Jack Skellington tries to explain Christmas's unique traditions, those things we hold dear about the holidays do manage to sound a little odd.
Die-hard traditionalists should keep in mind that the artists were allowed to put their own spin on the songs, which means this is more than just "covers" of the songs. In some cases, the interpretations take an unexpected turn, but the updated renditions really do add a fresh sparkle to these gems. On "Kidnap The Sandy Claws," for example, Korn delivers a pseudo-evil version of the song that unfolds a misguided plan to de-throne Santa. While it's probably a song that could give children nightmares -- particularly if played in December -- it becomes a highlight of this disc for adult listeners.
One of the most stirring songs on this collection is "Sally's Song," delivered here by the incomparable Amy Lee. This song has been to Nightmare what "I Don't Know How To Love Him" was to Jesus Christ, Superstar, and Lee breathes a wistful longing into the song that is nothing short of haunting.
Nightmare fans have been at no shortage of related memorabilia over the years, and Nightmare Revisited is a brilliant addition to any collection. For those who consider it a movie that's always worth another look, this version of the soundtrack is definitely worth a listen.
By Paula Felps
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|Performer:||Walt Disney Records|
|Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H):||4.90 x 0.38 x 5.74 Inches|
|1.||Overture - DeVotchKa|
|2.||Opening - Danny Elfman|
|3.||This Is Halloween - Marilyn Manson|
|4.||Jack's Lament - The All-American Rejects|
|5.||Doctor Finkelstein/In The Forest - Amiina|
|6.||What's This? - Flyleaf|
|7.||Town Meeting Song - The Polyphonic Spree|
|8.||Jack And Sally Montage - The Vitamin String Quartet|
|9.||Jack's Obsession - Sparklehorse|
|10.||Kidnap The Sandy Claws - KoRn|
|11.||Making Christmas - Rise Against|
|12.||Nabbed - Yoshida Brothers|
|13.||Oogie Boogie's Song - Rodrigo Y Gabriela|
|14.||Sally's Song - Amy Lee|
|15.||Christmas Eve Montage - Rjd2|
|16.||Poor Jack - Plain White T's|
|17.||To The Rescue - Datarock|
|18.||Finale/Reprise - Shiny Toy Guns|
|19.||Closing - Danny Elfman|
|20.||End Title - The Album Leaf|
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