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BABY: SECRET OF THE LOST LEGEND
Enjoyable adventure score is unearthed from the Disney vaults
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2007 Walt Disney Records; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall
Much like when East German women competed in weight lifting competitions during the 1980s, records are tumbling all the time in film music limited editions, and when Intrada recently announced Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend as the 62nd member of its Special Collection, all 3,000 copies were snapped up within a day or two - completely extraordinary. Whether down to their hype machine, or just the prevailing attitude of the day, it is almost unbelievable to witness how these things happen today, and how quickly things have changed (the same composer's infinitely superior score for Logan's Run still hasn't sold 3,000 copies many years after it was released on CD by Film Score Monthly, and I guess if Baby were an unlimited release which Intrada had put out in retail stores, it would only have sold a few hundred copies by now).
So just how is it possible to explain to someone who isn't the type to spend hours each day refreshing on-line messageboards and mailing lists that the music for a truly wretched, barely-seen film of 25 years ago can be snapped up so quickly? For those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who don't, no explanation is possible. What else can be said? The fact that the music would probably not even reach half way up the scale when it comes to Jerry Goldsmith scores is seemingly irrelevant. For me the most exciting thing about this release is the possibility it seems to offer for the future - Disney being one of the most notoriously-difficult studios to negotiate score releases with for anything other than current films, and somehow Intrada has broken in and managed to do it. While initially the Intrada hype machine went into overload again, promising how exciting this was for the future, perhaps understandably the label has since become a little more coy about the possibilities in the future - time will tell.
Anyway, the music - Goldsmith wrote this score in the same year as Rambo II and Legend and there are certain similarities with both of them - the action music here is like a "lite" version of the former, and some of the synthesised ornamentation is similar to the latter - but the main themes are distinctively this score's own. The main theme is a playful one for the dinosaur at the heart of the story - it's pretty and it does its job well in the film, but it can get just a little irritating on the album - I've often thought that the only genre Goldsmith never quite mastered was the children's film, and there's just something a little too sickly-sweet about this theme that illustrates the point.
Elsewhere the score is far more appealing - particularly the expansive adventure theme which dominates the action music. And that action music is the score's highlight - at times it is almost as frenzied and exciting as Rambo - I say "almost", and it never quite gets there, especially since the cute main theme is rarely far away, but the climactic "The Rescue" is a true thrill-ride. Nobody else has ever written action music as well as Goldsmith did, and even in a minor score such as this it makes it more than worth the listen.
Had a score album been forthcoming at the time of the film, I'm sure it would be remembered as nothing more than a ten-years-older version of Congo - and that statement alone will probably determine whether you will like it. It sits there towards the lower rankings of Goldsmith efforts, but that still places it in a high place for many people (including me) - hugely enjoyable, elevating the crummy film to a place nobody else involved with the production could even have dreamed it occupying, and a most satisfying album.