Three appealing new soundtracks -- Susan Stewart reviews the music from ''Beauty and the Beast'' and the ''Fievel'' films

Three appealing new soundtracks

What’s in a soundtrack album? Is it just something to fill the time between the original movie’s release and arrival of the Burger King action figures and the video release? Or is it more? Depends on the soundtrack. Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is a 50-minute version of the wonderful Howard Ashman-Alan Menken movie score. Will it stimulate a child’s imagination or just feed his infatuation? Who cares? In its way, Beast the soundtrack is as good as Beast the movie, and that’s what counts.

This soundtrack has two versions of Beast‘s title tune (the movie version sung by Angela Lansbury, the Top 40 version by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson) plus the beautiful ballad ”Something There” and Beast‘s other big songs. ”Gaston” depicts the hilarious antihero (”No one’s slick as Gaston/No one’s quick as Gaston/No one’s neck’s as incredibly thick as Gaston’s”). The songs are interspersed with dialogue that will bring the movie back into focus for those who have seen it — my preschooler was inspired to Belle-like behavior for hours — but likely confuse those who have not.

The Beast soundtrack also includes 20 minutes of…soundtrack. The wordless music summons the low hum of pleasure that is Soundtrack Emotion, which for me always conjures up a picture of Julie Andrews or Julie Christie running across the ridge of a snow-capped mountain. It sounds like the music from all the Disney movies that have blurred together in my brain since childhood to give me my mental images of evil, romance, and adventure. I have no idea if a collective Disney unconscious is a good thing; I do know it exists.

Is there a collective Spielberg unconscious? Steven Spielberg hopes so. Hot on the heels of last fall’s An American Tail sequel, Fievel Goes West, are two spin-off albums, one each for kids and adults. A Musical Adventure with Fievel and Friends is a song collection featuring the first film’s 1986 Oscar-nominated hit, ”Somewhere Out There,” sung by Phillip Glasser, the voice of Fievel, plus ”Mouses Even Cry” and ”If Cheese Grew on Trees.” There’s more than mouse awareness at work here; there’s Jewish immigrant mouse awareness. ”Anything Can Happen in America” is a song as well as a hopeful, recurring theme.

Anything can happen musically, anyway. A case in point is ”A Little Bit of Reggae.” A Jewish mouse singing about Caribbean music? Hey, that’s what ”melting pot” means.

The adult spin-off, Fievel Goes West: Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack, will summon images of Gunsmoke, Oklahoma!, and Aaron Copland. It’s very pretty. Naturally, these two Fievel spin-offs together boast three versions of ”Dreams to Dream” (Fievel Goes West has two ”Dreams,” including the Linda Ronstadt version currently climbing the pop charts). ”Aggressive marketing,” says Geoff Bywater, MCA senior vice president-marketing. If the music’s good, why not? Beauty: A Both Fievels: A-

Beauty and the Beast (1991)
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