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Artwork copyright (c) 2000 The Walt Disney Company; review copyright (c) 2005 James Southall



Lovely, lively family score


Disney's 1996 live action version of 101 Dalmatians did well enough that a sequel, again starring Glenn Close, was produced four years later.  Aside from Close, few who worked on the first movie ended up working on the second; director Stephen Herek wasn't tempted back and so Disney turned instead to Kevin Lima, who had written Aladdin and directed Tarzan for them - this was his step up into live action movies.  Lima hired David Newman for the music.  Newman has proved time and again that he can write terrific film scores - the biggest problem for fans of his music is that they are very rarely released on CD.  It can't all be down to the fact that he mostly scores family comedies - the likes of John Debney and Alan Silvestri have written extensively in that genre, and the majority of their scores seemingly get released - so I'm not entirely sure why it is.  Unfortunately, 102 Dalmatians is a score which was never released, so fans have had to try to seek out a very rare promotional copy of the score.

Many are continually disappointed that Newman chooses to score films like this instead of meatier works, but the truth is that he is simply very good at them, bringing a touch of class that most other composers fail to do.  One composer who didn't fail was Michael Kamen when he scored 101 Dalmatians, so it was a fairly tough task for Newman to follow - but he succeeded admirably, writing an energetic, colourful and very attractive score.  I suppose there are one or two surface-level similarities between Newman's score and Kamen's, though these mostly relate to the fact that both are big, bright, brassy orchestral works more than anything else.  Newman's themes aren't so memorable, but in other respects this is a more than worthy successor to the first film's score.

I say his themes aren't quite so memorable, but his big main theme for the picture is certainly very impressive, a kinetic and colourful piece which is always welcome when it appears.  The other main theme is actually not by Newman, but he interpolates the classic Disney tune "Cruella de Vil" (from the animation) into various tracks, in various guises, and this proves to be pretty successful.  The two big deviations from Kamen's score are the use of choir - both to chant the name of the villainess in one particularly effective piece early on, and as a heavenly accompaniment to the orchestra elsewhere - and the rather peculiar inclusion of very brief bursts of techno music from time to time, which doesn't work at all.

That latter point is really the only detraction from the very high quality elsewhere.  Nowhere near enough Newman scores have been released on CD, and this is a particularly entertaining one.  If you get a chance to hear it, don't pass it up - most lovers of old-fashioned orchestral adventure music are sure to enjoy it a great deal.


  1. Cabbages at Four Paces (1:35)
  2. Another Stakehout (2:21)
  3. The Arrival of Burt Kwouk (3:24)
  4. The Departure of Burt Kwouk (1:17)
  5. There's Only One Pedro (3:44)
  6. Something for the Weekend? (4:27)
  7. The Demise of Mrs Baylock (2:06)
  8. Here's Johnny! (2:48)
  9. Whoever Smelt It Dealt It (1:18)
  10. Window Dressing (4:22)
  11. Bist du Engelmacher? (1:35)
  12. Laundromat Closes (:57)