Beauty And The Beast - The Enchanted Christmas
Walt Disney Records, 1997
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/12/1998
I think I may be going to Hell for what I'm about to say: I've found a Christmas album that really isn't good.
After the remarkable success with the original Beauty And The Beast, the fine folks at Disney decided to release a Christmas movie reprising the tale, releasing it direct to video. Surprise! This is one of the times I actually watched the video to get a feel of the soundtrack... and, well, the story left a lot to be desired. Unfortunately, the accompanying soundtrack to Beauty And The Beast - The Enchanted Christmas is not much better.
Now, I do admire the fact that the original vocal cast is back to reprise their original roles -- and the addition of Bernadette Peters is a wise move. While I have never been one who has been into Broadway-style music, I've always admired her vocal talents, and she fits in quite well to the story. (The singing talents of people like David Ogden Stiers and Jerry Orbach are quite good -- though those silly accents tend to get in the way at times.)
Problem number one is that a lot of the music from the actual video -- which constitutes only about half of this disc -- isn't Christmas music... not by a long shot. I'd be hard pressed to explain how "Don't Fall In Love" from Tim Curry (as the voice of Forte) qualifies as a Christmas song; ditto goes for "Stories" from Paige O'Hara (as the voice of Belle).
Of the actual Christmas music here, there are three - count them, three -- different takes on "As Long As There's Christmas," and none of them are that good. Even the end title version, sung by Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack, doesn't set the speakers on fire like I would expect it to; that's usually the position in the movie where the potential radio single is placed.
Problem number two comes in when the traditional carols are sung by O'Hara. The renditions she does sound like rote readings of the hymns, and are pretty lifeless. Additionally, all the Christmas songs are lumped together; had they been spaced out between the songs from the film, they might have been more tolerable. Likewise, had other members of the cast joined in on these songs, it would have broken up the monotony of O'Hara's normally beautiful voice.
That leaves us with the orchestral numbers from the film -- problem number three, in this case. Oh, it's not that they're bad; far from it. In fact, the problem is that they're too short; they often sound like the songs got spliced in the middle, leaving the songs ending before the climax.
What's really sad about Beauty And The Beast - The Enchanted Christmas is that it could have been a great Christmas album, had it not been thrown together -- which is how this slipshod collection sounds. Instead of being a great album, it ends up being ho-ho-hum. Avoid this one.