Disney's 'The Lion King: The Legacy Collection' brings Hans Zimmer's score to life again

By Daniel S Levine,
Author Rating: 
5.0 Stars - I Loved It!

For 20 years now, listeners have never been able to hear more than 15 minutes of Hans Zimmer’s full, Oscar-winning score for The Lion King. It may be a little late, but Disney finally rectified that this summer with the new Legacy Collection edition of the soundtrack.

As everyone knows, The Lion King remains one of the studio’s most popular classics, with a story that mixed Bambi and Hamlet in Africa. Despite being released so long ago, even children today know the words to songs like “Circle of Life,” “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” and “Hakuna Matata.”

The music for the film was the one thing that made it really unique from the other Disney Renaissance pictures from the early 1990s. Alan Menken and Howard Ashman had nothing to do with the film. Instead, the studio hired Tim Rice and Elton John to write the songs. Zimmer was brought on to write the score, providing one of the most important Disney scores probably since Sleeping Beauty.

The original Disney Records CD from 1994 only contained the songs and 15 minutes of Zimmer’s score, but the new release has all of it. It really helps you better appreciate the sound he brought to the film, following acclaimed scores for Best Picture winners Driving Miss Daisy and Rain Man. Today, Zimmer is best known for scoring Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films, but Lion King is an important step in his career.

Zimmer’s demos can be found on Disc 2 of the new set, showing the evolution of his music. There’s a couple of things different here and there, but overall, it’s clear he understood the project right away.

Disc 2 also has “The Morning Report,” which debuted to the public in the Broadway show and was re-inserted into the movie for the DVD release, and the outtake “Warthog Rhapsody.” You also get the 1994 John recordings of “Circle of Life,” “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” and “Can You Feel The Love Tonight.” Sadly, these tracks haven’t dated well at all.

Released in June, this is the first of a new Disney Records collection that will run through next year. Mary Poppins is the second release and came out this week to mark its 50th anniversary. If they are all going to be as well packaged as The Lion King release, these sets are going to be must-haves for Disney fans.

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