George Of The Jungle

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Walt Disney Records, 1997

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Anytime you watch a Disney movie as an adult, you have to suspend your logical thinking for an hour or so and try to become a kid again. In the case of the character of George Of The Jungle, it was a little harder for me; I grew up watching the Jay Ward cartoons (paired up with Tom Slick and Super Chicken), but I thought Brendan Fraser captured the essence quite well.

The same, unfortunately, can't be said for the soundtrack to George Of The Jungle. While it has some very good songs on it, the bulk of it hits the thick leafy stick harder than a Congressman on a ski slope. (No, no, wait... forget I said that.)

Of the three versions of the theme song on this disc, the stand-out version comes from... "Weird Al" Yankovic? The parody king has created a version, barely a minute in length, which is the closest to the original that one can come, even matching the harmonies perfectly. (He seems to borrow some of the sound effects from the cartoon, but that makes it all the more cool to me.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The possible discovery here is Johnny Clegg & Savuka, a South African band that never got the attention it deserved in the States, even after Paul Simon popularized the style on Graceland. "Dela (I Know Why The Dog Howls At The Moon)" is a pretty track that captures a tribal feeling, despite apparently having nothing to do with the movie. (If you like this song, check out their album Third World Child for more than a taste spoon.) And anyone who doesn't like the all-out ferocity of The Surfaris' "Wipe Out" needs their head examined; this surf rock instrumental shows why it's still regarded as a classic.

Sadly, this is where the praise stops. Most of the remaining cuts on George Of The Jungle make it seem like the disc is longer than the half-hour it really is, and that's really too bad. The Presidents Of The United States Of America completely butcher their cover of the theme song - and it's reprised on the disc on the main title mix. I don't know why I dislike this version as much as I do - it just falls short in many ways. It doesn't capture the lightheartedness of the original, it doesn't stay true to the original's lyrics (though I'll admit they had to pad it a bit to stretch it out for the credits)... oh, who am I kidding, I'll always like the one from the cartoon best. So there.

Many of the short "interlude" pieces are complete wastes of time. "The Man On The Flying Trapeeze" and "Aba Daba Honeymoon" are pitiful and annoying, while "Go Ape" is a half-assed redo of Yello's "Oh Yeah" - can't we stop messing with a song that wasn't that good to begin with? And John Cleese's rendition of "My Way" - the less said, the better.

Credit should be given to Marc Shaiman, whose compositions at the end of the disc are all but lost in the mediocrity. I would have preferred to hear more compositions of his like "Rumble In The Jungle" than "Aba Daba Honeymoon" (every time I hear this song, I think of "Laverne & Shirley" signing it - it's caused me to live on antacid tablets for the last three days).

When I first looked at the disc for George Of The Jungle, I wondered why a soundtrack lasting barely a half-hour would be released. After listening to it, I wished they had made it much shorter. My advice: watch out for this one.

Rating: C-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 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.