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Artwork copyright (c) 1986 BLT Venture; review copyright (c) 2005 James Southall



Delightful animation music is an early highlight from Newman


I am forced to begin by making a confession: until this album was announced, I'd never even heard of The Brave Little Toaster.  Reading the album's liner notes was thus a revelatory experience.  (It should be pointed out here that the liner notes are exhaustive in every detail about the film, featuring interviews with many of its most important makers, and are a textbook example of how these things should be produced.)  Based on Thomas M. Disch's children's book, it was an animated movie made largely by disaffected former Disney employees who didn't like the direction the studio had gone (remember, this was before The Little Mermaid) which attracted much acclaim at the time - so why, then, have I never heard of it?  The answer lies, ironically, with Disney; in order to secure funding, the filmmakers did a home video and cable tv distribution deal with Disney, as well as a theatrical distribution deal with another company, but when Disney announced that it would be one of the showpiece projects it would use to launch The Disney Channel, the theatrical distributor got cold feet and pulled out, so it was never seen in cinemas.  All of which seems a great shame, because from the way it's described in the album notes it sounds like a lovely little film, worked on by some people who have gone on to achieve legendary status (including a certain John Lasseter).

It was also one of the earliest film scores composed by David Newman; and it's one of his very best.  In recent years, two of the few films he's worked on which have been anything other than completely risible were the animations Anastasia and Ice Age, for which he also produced strong work, so he certainly seems to have a knack for the genre.  There is actually pleasingly little in The Brave Little Toaster which immediately screams out that it's from an animation, which was a deliberate act; it's solid, dramatic orchestral music, written in a similar spirit to Jerry Goldsmith's classic The Secret of NIMH.  Newman's music is full of life and energy.  More importantly, it is full of heart.  While admittedly it is not full of memorable themes, it is always melodic and boasts a high number of musical highlights, not least the magical "They All Wake Up" and the breathless, swelling, brilliant "Finale". 

Along with Newman's original score come four original songs by Van Dyke Parks, sung by the voice actors from the film, which are great fun, and Newman incorporates their melodies into his score on a few occasions, most memorably using "City of Lights" in "The Pond", arranged for various synth effects which individually sound like the noises of the forest, but come together to form the tune.  Ingenious stuff.  Finally, everything comes together for the heartwarming and delightful end credit piece.  This is a great album, released on Percepto Records, and comes highly recommended.  It may seem churlish to end with a comment like this, but it all makes me wish Newman would work on some films which actually deserve his talents more often, instead of the rubbish he seems to do all the time; such a waste of talent.  Still, at least there will always be things like The Brave Little Toaster to show us what he's really capable of. 


  1. Main Title (2:23)
  2. They All Wake Up (2:42)
  3. Blanket's Dream (2:28)
  4. The Air Conditioner Blows (1:20)
  5. They Decide to Go (:52)
  6. The Look for Transportation (:50)
  7. Out Into the World (1:40)
  8. City of Lights (2:59)
  9. Blanket Looks for a Place to Sleep (1:04)
  10. The Pond / Busby Berkley / The Meadow (5:35)
  11. Toaster's Dream (1:16)
  12. The Storm (1:36)
  13. Blanket is Blown Away (1:37)
  14. The Waterfall (:58)
  15. Vacuum Rescues the Group (1:29)
  16. They Sink in the Mud (1:26)
  17. In the Shop (:56)
  18. Blender's Motor is Sold (1:30)
  19. It's a B Movie (3:03)
  20. Radio is Stalked (1:04)
  21. Happy Travel (1:12)
  22. Into the City (1:29)
  23. Cutting Edge (2:29)
  24. Junkyard Montage (1:24)
  25. Worthless (4:26)
  26. Finale (7:01)
  27. End Title (3:36)