Album Review: The Land Before Time OST

16 Nov

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Why not have my first review be for what is probably the most obscure album in my top 50?  I tend to avoid ranking soundtracks in such lists because…well, I’m really not sure.  Probably because for the most part, while I find them emotionally soaring (the scored ones), they don’t compare musically to the “pop” albums such a list would consist of, but this? This is different.  This is James Horner at his best.

A little background information first.  For those who don’t know, The Land Before Time was an animated children’s film that came out in 1988.  Directed by Don Bluth, and produced by Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas, The Land Before Time is the tragic tale of an orphaned “longneck” dinosaur by the name of Littlefoot.  The story follows his travels, during a famine, to the Great Valley, where green foods grow, and all can live together with their own kind in harmony.  Littlefoot is forced to make this journey alone after his mother is killed by a Tyrannosaurus Rex during an earthquake (the single saddest thing I have ever seen in a kid’s movie, ever), and along the way, he learns a great deal about the central theme of the movie: Acceptance of other races/people.  Like I said, it IS a children’s movie, but I find something deeper and more meaningful to it.  Probably because it is accompanied by this most moving of soundtracks.  In fact, the original plan was for this to be a virtually silent picture, accompanied by James Horner’s score only.  I hope to someday have the ability to sync the two together someday to make a “fan-vid” version of this, as I think it would only enhance what is already a very special film.  The only reason I can think that they ended up shying away from this move is that a silent picture isn’t exactly kid-friendly in this day and age.

As most scores tend to do, this one revolves around a central melody, which comes out fully to open the B-Side (I own this on vinyl) with “If We Hold On Together” performed by the one and only, Diana Ross.  This is the only vocal on the album, the words and music of which were also penned by James Horner.   With only 6 tracks of scored music, you don’t get that “ram it down their throats” feeling I tend to find in other scores, where they repeat the same musical theme again and again and again.  As I said, there IS one prominent theme, but it is hidden pretty well in most songs, and they all feel independent of one another.

Perhaps I feel such a strong connection to this album because of the repeated viewings of the film as a child, but when you hear the uplifting beats of “Discovery of the Great Valley”, the tragedy within “Whispering Winds” and the heart-break in Diana Ross’ voice through “If We Hold On Together”, it’s hard to believe that even one who has not viewed the film would come away with nothing from this album.  Give it a try, if the opportunity ever presents (and the whole thing IS on youtube), it’s a great piece of work to just relax to, or study to, if nothing else.

Rating: 5/5

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