The Snowman
25th Anniversary Special Edition

Composer: Howard Blake
Sony BMG
RRP: £9.99
Available 26 November 2007

The Snowman was originally published as an illustrated book without words by artist Raymond Briggs in 1978. In 1982 it was made into an animated tale for Channel 4 with words and music by Howard Blake. It has been broadcast every Christmas since and now, 25 years after it's first screening, Sony has released an anniversary soundtrack...

I can't believe it's been 25 years since The Snowman was first broadcast on Channel 4. Yes, 25 years since Aled Jones's annoying voice first screamed forth without warning from millions of TV sets across the UK.

This release is an audio book and soundtrack rolled into one. There are six tracks on the CD. The first three include the original soundtrack with narration by James Nesbitt, while the final three tracks feature Howard Blake's music including the song that made Aled Jones a household name - curse you Blake!

The audio book is a bit of a disappointment really. James Nesbitt may be a great actor, but a voice actor he isn't. The end result is not as great as it could have been if someone with a much better speaking voice and better range of vocal emotions had been behind the microphone. Instead we get Nesbitt really trying hard to pull off something he just can't - breathing life into a cute children's tale.

The second half of the CD - the soundtrack - is much more impressive. Here we get to hear Blake's original score without any interruptions. I was impressed that the music still holds its own after 25 years. I thought I'd know every note by now, but was pleasantly surprised to hear a lot of subtle and moving sections that I'd previously not remembered, as well as all the familiar themes that accompanied scenes like the bike ride and the party at the North Pole.

The tracks with Nesbitt's narration are best forgotten, but I'm sure the soundtrack will be cherished by many for a long time to come.

Darren Rea

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