Country Stars, Disney Classics by Gary Blurr was originally released in 1996 then came back 3 more times as a re-issue the last being in 2006. The CD contains just 12 tracks what seems a bit on the short side considering most movie soundtracks these songs came from easily top at 20 tracks. And considering this is an official Walt Disney Records album and not small third party label money shouldnâ€™t be an issue. Still, the price (â‚¬8,-) makes up for the lack of songs, itâ€™s the cheapest full album I bought in years.
Back in the late nineties I recall some fuss around this album; a page for it had been sitting at Disney.com for years. Thatâ€™s where I downloaded a sample of Some Day My Prince Will Come. Some of the fuss came from an Aladdin mailing lists, AML or AWNWML donâ€™t remember exactly. Anyway, a member must have bought the CD and told us how great it was. Thatâ€™s where I got Colin Rayeâ€™s version of AWNW while at a later time I downloaded mp3â€™s Kiss The Girl, Beauty and the Beast and Part of Your World back when sharing Mp3â€™s wasnâ€™t equal to murder.
Since I am already very familiar with these four songs Iâ€™ll go deeper into them then the rest. Letâ€™s start with Kiss The Girl by the band Little Texas. Little Texas is a 4 person male band that has been going around the country scene as long as Mermaid (since 1989) and have the label â€œhardest working band in the business.â€ This because in their earliest years they toured almost the whole year round. That touring paid off in a record deal with Warner Bros. Since then they quickly reached the top in the country music genre until Little Texas fell apart in the late 90â€™s. Since 2004 the band is reunited and after some bumps its touring again and working a new album.
Kiss The Girl lends itself fine for the conversion from Calypso to Country, catchy drum beat supported by guitar, Little Texas stays true to the rhythm..
The Diamond Rio is a six head all male band going around for 18 years producing hit upon hit with 18 Country US chart top 10 hits, four reaching # 1. Unlike Little Texas the band has stayed in the same formation since 1989.
Again this Menken & Howard song is being treated well. Beauty and the Beast is still a ballad and is fine voiced by Marty Joe and his backup vocals. Mainly drums and guitar in this number, as is usual with country bands, I do hear a little bit piano here and there. Wonderful performance.
Next up of my all time favorite classics, Part of Your World here covered by the most recognizable name on this album; Faith Hill. Another middle-ager in the country scene Faith Hill has been releasing albums since 1993 all with great success reaching 9 US Country chart number one hits and four US Hot 100 top ten hits. It wouldnâ€™t surprise me if Disney went a long way to sign her for this album by giving her one Disney greatest hits from in the last 2 decades to cover while other country artists might have done it better because those famous lines Ariel says before sheâ€™d sing donâ€™t sound that good coming from Faith Hill with that heavy accent for hers.
This the only song that that is nearly 100% musically the same as the movie version, mainly strings and guitar with drums back in the supporting role instead of forming the main beat.
Finally the song I bought the album for, Colin Rayeâ€™s version of A Whole New World. Raye is another the next-generation country artist, I grew up hearing the likes of Dolly Parton and other big country stars that where mainstream in the 80â€™s.
This version is solo, no duet as normally is. But with backup vocals by the albums producer Gary Burr and Sarah (Beth) Hooker.
Colin Raye races through Aladdinâ€™s theme song fast with 3.17 itâ€™s around the size of the pop version but while Peabo and Regina did A Whole New World as balled Colin Raye does it in high tempo similar to that of One Jump Ahead.
The twelve country artists sing songs from nine Disney classics and one Pixar movie, Kiss the Girl (Little Texas) and Part of Your World (Faith Hill) from The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast (Diamond Trio) from Beauty and the Beast, Some Day My Prince Will Come (Tanya Tucker) from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Baby Mine (Alison Kraus) from Dumbo. Baby Mine is one of the best songs on this album.
A Whole New World (Collin Raye) from Aladdin, Colors of The Wind (Pam Tillis) and If I Never Knew You (Hal Katchum and Shelby Lynne)from Pocahontas. Pocahontas music lends itself well for conversion to country and sounds much better then Alan Menken later attempt at country with Home on the Range.
Finally there is Can You Feel the Love Tonight (Larry Stewart) from The Lion King, Someday (Lee Roy Parnell) from The Hunchback of Norte Dame, When you Wish Upon A Star (Bryan White) from Pinocchio and Youâ€™ve Got A Friend in Me (George Jones & Kathy Kamttea ) from Toy Story.