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Soundtrack Review

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Mary Poppins Returns
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


Music: Marc Shaiman
Lyrics: Scott Wittman
Performed by: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson and Angela Lansbury
Label: Walt Disney Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 07 December 2018

Walt Disney Records releases the original soundtrack to the movie Mary Poppins Returns. The album features all-new original songs by Tony Award and GRAMMY winning composer Marc Shaiman and Tony winner and three-time Emmy nominee co-lyricist Scott Wittman. Mary Poppins is back to help the next generation of the Banks family find the joy and wonder missing in their lives following a personal loss...

For those of us of a certain age the original Mary Poppins (1964) movie was one of the most memorable movies from our childhood. The film mixed live action with cartoon animation characters to deliver a Disney movie with magical qualities that cinema audiences hadn't witnessed before. Those young children have grown up themselves, many becoming parents and grandparents... a theme that Mary Poppins Returns tips its hat to, with Mary returning to the Banks household to once again help the Banks children. This time it's Michael's three children who Mary becomes nanny to... and we're off on another wild adventure.

The movie is about as faithful to the sensibilities of the original as you could possibly have wished for. The only slight disappointment is that while Dick Van Dyke returns in a cameo, Julie Andrews turned down the opportunity to make a brief appearance. She would have been perfect in the role of the Balloon Lady (a part wonderfully filled by Angela Lansbury).

The only thing left to seal the deal is a score and songs that are equal to the original... and Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman do the fans, Disney and the Sherman Brothers proud. There's even a nod and a wink to some of the Sherman Brothers original songs. It's probably not a huge surprise to learn that the Sherman brothers had a profound impact on Shaiman's career as both a composer and songwriter.

"The movie and the soundtrack were everything to me as a child and taught me everything I know about film scoring," Shaiman said. "The songs from Mary Poppins are, in a word, perfect. The music and the lyrics are perfectly joined and have such a wonderful, sparkling yet emotional, feeling to them, so it's quite a bar to even aspire to come close to. We didn't stray too far from the sounds of the first movie. We wanted it to feel like we were picking up where the last film ended."

I also couldn't help wondering if Ed Welch's score for The Thirty Nine Steps (1978) was the main inspiration behind 'Race to Big Ben' as there are quite a few similarities to Welch's music.

The new songs include: the film's central ballad, 'The Place Where Lost Things Go.' a lullaby performed by Mary Poppins; the boisterous dance hall number with Mary Poppins and Jack, 'A Cover is Not the Book'; 'Underneath the Lovely London Sky,' the opening musical number performed by Jack at some of the city's most iconic landmarks; 'Turning Turtle,' a spirited number performed by cousin Topsy and the Banks children; 'The Conversation,' a bittersweet song performed by Michael in which he tries to come to terms with his grief; and the buoyant 'Nowhere to Go But Up.'

It even has an 'Overture!' something that stopped being a thing decades ago, but was quite common in movies of the time, showcasing the main themes in an instrumental compilation piece.

The soundtrack contains 27 tracks (1 hr, 18 min, 16 sec) and opens with the movies songs before moving onto the orchestrated score. I've been listening to this quite a lot for weeks. It was an album that I loved from the first play through... and it's one that just gets more enjoyable each time I play it.

Like the film, this will have you reconnect with your inner child and make you remember how magical the cinema can be. A wonderful soundtrack that you'll get years of listening pleasure from.

Track listing:

01. "(Underneath the) Lovely London Sky" - Performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda
02. "Overture" - Performed by Marc Shaiman
03. "A Conversation" - Performed by Ben Whishaw
04. "Can You Imagine That?" - Performed by Emily Blunt with Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson and Nathanael Saleh
05. "The Royal Doulton Music Hall" - Performed by Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson and Nathanael Saleh
06. "Introducing Mary Poppins" - Performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Emily Blunt
07. "A Cover Is Not the Book" - Performed by Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda and Company
08. "The Place Where Lost Things Go" - Performed by Emily Blunt
09. "Turning Turtle" - Performed by Meryl Streep with Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson and Nathanael Saleh
10. "Trip a Little Light Fantastic" - Performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda with Emily Blunt, Tarik Frimpong, Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson, Nathanael Saleh and Leeries
11. "The Place Where Lost Things Go (Reprise)" - Performed by Joel Dawson, Nathanael Saleh and Pixie Davies
12. "Trip a Little Light Fantastic (Reprise)" - Performed by Dick Van Dyke with Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson and Nathanael Saleh
13. "Nowhere to Go But Up" - Performed by Angela Lansbury, Ben Whishaw, Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson, Nathanael Saleh, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Emily Mortimer, Julie Walters and Company
14. "(Underneath the) Lovely London Sky (Reprise)" - Performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda
15. "Theme from Mary Poppins Returns" - Performed by Marc Shaiman
16. "Kite Takes Off" - Performed by Marc Shaiman
17. "Mary Poppins Arrives" - Performed by Marc Shaiman
18. "Magic Papers" - Performed by Marc Shaiman
19. "Banks in the Bank" - Performed by Marc Shaiman
20. "Into the Royal Doulton Bowl" - Performed by Marc Shaiman
21. "Rescuing Georgie" - Performed by Marc Shaiman
22. "Off to Topsy's" - Performed by Marc Shaiman
23. "Chase Through the Bank" - Performed by Marc Shaiman
24. "Lost in a Fog" - Performed by Marc Shaiman
25. "Goodbye Old Friend" - Performed by Marc Shaiman
26. "Race to Big Ben" - Performed by Marc Shaiman
27. "End Title Suite" - Performed by Marc Shaiman


Darren Rea

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