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LLLCD 1032

Artwork copyright (c) 2005 USA Cable Entertainment LLC; review copyright (c) 2005 James Southall



Wonderfully inventive, magical score for family movie


Sadly, the late Michael Kamen was never given the credit he deserved when he was alive.  His most famous scores, things like Die Hard and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves were OK - at times very good - but not his best work, most of which came during the last decade of his life, when he seemed to simply get better and better as he went along.  He wrote three excellent scores for director Stephen Herek and it was because of their relationship that he was announced as the somewhat surprising choice of composer for Disney's 1996 live-action remake of their classic 101 Dalmatians, starring Glenn Close.  Many were sceptical that Kamen was a suitable composer for this sort of thing and his score somehow came and went without attracting much attention - remarkable really, because the only possible contender it has for the title of best score of the 1990s written for a children's film would be John Williams's Home Alone.

I doubt there can have been too many scores written which contain such a wealth of themes and motifs as this one - not just in terms of quantity, but quality.  Inside the CD booklet, the different orchestral soloists (of which there are a great number) are each given the name of one of the dogs or situations in the film for which they provide the theme.  It is most impressive that Kamen was able to utilise his orchestra in such depth for a film like this.  The score opens with one of the best themes of all, a sprightly little one which always for some reason reminds me of Christmas (I suppose it's the bells); but there are so many more, including a gorgeous, sweeping love theme ("The Wedding" is one of the most memorable pieces of Kamen's career), a delightful action theme ("Rescue"), a sinister motif for Cruella de Vil and so much more besides.  Kamen introduces a nice little touch with the orchestra mimicking "Pup, pup, pup, pup, puppies!" at various points (this is not nearly so naff as it must appear when written down); and he interpolates "Daisy, Daisy" a couple of times, which again is a nice touch.

This is top-notch, pure orchestral film music of the highest order - Kamen was always unfairly considered to be an action movie specialist, but his most wonderful scores (and there were many) didn't really come from that genre at all.  101 Dalmatians is magical stuff, a score which was never appreciated as much as it deserved to be; hopefully there will come a time when Kamen will be fully appreciated as the great film composer he was, one of the foremost of his generation.  His best scores showed such melodic inventiveness and consistently-impressive orchestration - he was one of precious few film composers who actually knew how to utilise an orchestra to its fullest potential.  He is sorely missed, but fortunately scores like 101 Dalmatians ensure that his music will always last.

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  1. Prologue (:38)
  2. Main Title (US Version) (1:02)
  3. Helo Chase (1:29)
  4. The Olympic Carrier (5:29)
  5. Helo Rescued (:59)
  6. A Good Lighter (1:52)
  7. The Thousandth Landing (3:04)
  8. Two Funerals (3:22)
  9. Starbuck Takes on All Eight (3:44)
  10. Forgiven (1:28)
  11. The Card Game (3:01)
  12. Starbuck on the Red Moon (1:58)
  13. Helo in the Warehouse (1:59)
  14. Baltar Speaks with Adama (1:52)
  15. Two Boomers (1:46)
  16. Battlestar Operatica (2:33)
  17. The Dinner Party (3:12)
  18. Battlestar Muzaktica (1:41)
  19. Baltar Panics (1:44)
  20. Boomer Flees (1:14)
  21. Flesh and Bone (4:04)
  22. Battle on the Asteroid (6:50)
  23. Wander My Friends (2:55)
  24. Passacaglia (5:13)
  25. Kobol's Last Gleaming (2:47)
  26. Destiny (4:42)
  27. The Shape of Things to Come (2:53)
  28. Bloodshed (1:46)
  29. Re-Cap (:34)
  30. Main Title (UK Version) (1:06)