THE JUNGLE BOOK - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2016)
There was a time when this reviewer looked forward to visiting record stores, with the sole purpose of checking out new soundtrack releases. With his limited pocket money, he would carefully choose which CD to purchase, and then gleefully head home to pop the disc into the player. The next hour of so would be pure enjoyment in the realm of film music.
This soundtrack album is a fond reminder of those good ol’ times. John Debney (Oscar nominee for his work on 2004’s The Passion of the Christ) is the composer responsible for scoring Disney’s live action retelling of the 1967 movie, and he pays tribute to George Bruns’s music for the animated classic half a minute into “Main Titles (Jungle Run)”. After the beloved Disney castle intro, fans will recognise the bass flute intro that was used in Bruns’s score.
Debney wastes no time and dives straight into the action after that - you picture a fast paced scene of Mowgli speeding through the jungle as the music gets increasingly exhilarating. Mowgli’s theme is given a lush treatment, and we first hear it in “Wolves - Law of the Jungle”. This beautiful melody will be heard in several of the 20 score cues in the highly recommended album.
Known for his swashbuckling film music (Spider Man 3, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor), Debney illustrates this in “Shere Khan Attacks/ Stampede”. The action music is grandiosely orchestrated, and you will be similarly kept at the edge of your seats in tracks like “Shere Khan’s War Theme” and “Shere Khan and the Fire”.
The 59 year old American composer shows his diversity throughout the soundtrack - “Honeycomb Climb” is a fun and playful cue, while “Arrival at King Louie’s Temple” is deviously mysterious. “Mowgli Wins The Race” and “The Jungle Book Closes” are easily the most notable cues that you can repeatedly listen to without feeling bored. Not only is there a generous amount of score material on this CD, the tracks are also smoothly put in sequence, chronicling Mowgli’s adventure.
There are four songs included on the 75 minute album: New Orleans legend Dr John performs the end credit song “The Bare Necessities”, Scarlett Johansson puts her seductive voice to good use in “Trust in Me”, Christopher Walken’s entertaining jazz rendition of “I Wanna Be Like You” is a gem (legendary songwriter Richard Sherman wrote new lyrics to reflect King Louie's scarily gigantic appearance), while Bill Murray’s version of “The Bare Necessities” is enjoyable as well. The familiar tunes of these songs are also interspersed in the score tracks. It’s a shame though, that the soundtrack producers decided to omit the songs played in the film.
Nonetheless, this is one soundtrack album which this reviewer would gladly pay for, and listen to it whenever he feels that there is so much more to film music than loud synthesised melodies.
Recommended Track: (23) I Wan'na Be Like You (2016) (Christopher Walken)
Review by John Li