Mannheim Steamroller Meets The Mouse

Mannheim Steamroller

Walt Disney Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


When you mention the name "Mannheim Steamroller," probably the first image that comes to mind are quirky, medieval-meets-Moog Christmas albums that have been delighting audiences for well over a decade now. What might also come to mind are any of the Fresh Aire series, or if you're a diehard fan of Chip Davis and company, you may remember Saving The Wildlife or Classical Gas, the latter a collaboration with guitarist Mason Williams.

What you might not associate Mannheim Steamroller with is Mickey Mouse. That's something Davis and crew want to change, as evidenced by their latest release my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Mannheim Steamroller Meets The Mouse.

If you're someone like me - Generation-X'er who grew up with many of these songs - then this album is going to throw you for a loop at first, even if you're familiar with the work of Mannheim Steamroller. I did not expect to hear "Chim Chim Cher-ee" turned into a plodding waltz that could have come from The Nightmare Before Christmas, or did I expect to hear "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" plod along for a while until finally breaking into a joyous roar.

If you're a Baby Boomer whose childhood was shaped by some of these songs and whose adulthood has been shaped by new age music, then Mannheim Steamroller Meets The Mouse might be a little more comfortable. But I'm willing to bet there will still be pangs of longing for the original songs.

Now, it's not that Davis and crew butchered these twelve works. Both "When You Wish Upon A Star" and "The Ballad Of Davy Crockett" get new life breathed into them, and the "Mickey Mouse March" is haunting. But other songs will not sound familiar to the ears, such as "Hakuna Matata" and "You've Got A Friend In Me".

It would be simple to say that only the older Disney numbers translated well to Mannheim Steamroller's approach - and it would also be wrong to say that. Davis and crew get things right on numbers like "Under The Sea" from the modern era, while others like "Chim Chim Cher-ee" do fall flat. The fact is, Mannheim Steamroller Meets The Mouse is very much hit-or-miss, and is not an album that is a real representation of the work of Mannheim Steamroller.

One cannot blame Davis for having the ambition to put a modern, new age spin on Disney's music, but Mannheim Steamroller Meets The Mouse could have been a better album had more thought and effort been put behind the translations. Chances are there will be a sequel to this album; here's hoping Davis learns from his mistakes.

Rating: C

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Walt Disney Records, and is used for informational purposes only.