Album: Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films
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The 1980s was an interesting time for esoteric multi-artist tribute albums. And perhaps the most esoteric were put together by legendary producer Hal Wilner — who passed away earlier this earlier thanks to COVID-19 — who followed up on his tributes to Theolonious Monk and Kurt Weill with Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films, a double album full of reinterpretations of songs from Disney films which climaxed with Ringo Starr singing “When You Wish Upon a Star,” because of course it did.
I should confess right here that I’m almost the polar opposite of a Disney head — and let’s remember this is prior to the renaissance led by The Little Mermaid — but at this point, hating Disney is like hating the ocean. It really doesn’t give a shit how any individual feels because everybody else loves it.
That said, I still disliked most of Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films, with a couple of exceptions: Tom Waits’ truly demented take on “The Dwarves Marching Song,” which sounded like it was made by the Dwarves destroyed in the mines of Moria (and scared the shit out of my girlfriend every time I put it on) and, of course, The Replacements’ faux-jazzy take on “Cruella De Vil,” which was taken from my favorite Disney film at that point, 101 Dalmatians.
And while I might not have been the first thing they recorded with Slim Dunlap, it was the first thing they released with him, and it was both agreeably fun and agreeably sloppy, the closest thing to a Hootenanny song they’d released in half a decade. With no real obligation to make it good, and with liberal doses of ad-libs, weird guitar parts, occasional pianner and studio dicking around, it maybe should have fallen apart before it even started, but then at the same time, they also arranged it to have call-and-response vocals on the chorus and a big cheesy ending.
What I didn’t know in 1988 was the irony surrounding liking on the Tom Waits and Replacements songs on Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films, because by that time they’d formed a mutual appreciation society — or should I say a “mats”ual appreciation society? I shouldn’t? OK — which bore the fruit of one my favorite ‘Mats b-sides. But we’ll get there in a few weeks.
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