"Nightmare Revisited" (Walt Disney Records; 2008)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Danny Elfman's songs and score from the classic Disney film, "The Nightmare Before Christmas," are truly a masterpiece. Without Elfman's music, style and, indeed, voice, Tim Burton's vision would not have become the monster cult classic it is today.

So, re-recording the film's songs and score with some of today's biggest artists seemed like a good idea. And, Marilyn Manson's cover of "This is Halloween" (released on last year's deluxe edition of the film's soundtrack) seemed to bode well for such a project.

Well, now that project is here. "Nightmare Revisited" is twenty tracks of modern artists trying their hand at performing Elfman's songs from the film. Sadly, only about half of them are successful. The most successful tunes either stick as close to the source material as possible or manage to take the song and make it their own. Those tracks that don't work either seem to completely ignore the source material and have created tracks that are dull and flat or, even worse, flat out annoying.

To be fair, the artists performing on "Nightmare Revisited" never had it easy. Elfman's original music and songs are pretty tough to improve upon and the entire world knows how they're supposed to sound. Most of the artists on this CD, even the ones who fare worse than others, should be commended for accepting the challenge even though perhaps they never should have.

Bottom line: If you're a fan of the film then this is an interesting listen, but not a necessary addition to your collection.

Following is a track listing of the CD and the artist performing each track, along with a brief review.

1. DeVotchKa "Overture" - a sort of circus metal version of the film's various themes;
2. Danny Elfman "Opening" The composer himself with a straight-forward interpretation of the original narration;
3. Marilyn Manson "This is Halloween" - previously released and slightly psychopathic rendition;
4. The All-American Rejects "Jack's Lament"
5. Amiina "Dr. Finkelstein / In the Forest"
6. Flyleaf "What's This" - Surprisingly lifeless version of the song that was the film's most full of life It's as though they killed it and left it to bleed out.
7. The Polyphonic Spree "Town Meeting Song" - Very Pink Floyd-ish in style, but much too long;
8. Vitamin String Quartet "Jack and Sally Montage" -  clever but not too different instrumental re-working; 
9. Sparklehorse "Jack's Obsession" - Annoying, limp, and badly produced. Most unlistenable track on the CD; 
10. Korn "Kidnap the Sandy Claws" - Like Marilyn Manson's tune, Korn ignites Elfman's original with real energy; 
11. Rise Against "Making Christmas" - Lively version of the original with Rise Against's trademark attitude;
12. Yoshida Brothers "Nabbed" - Asian strings. Interesting, but overlong;
13. Rodrigo Y Garbriela "Ooogie Boogie's Song" - Nice Latin beat instrumental version; wish there were vocals;
14. Amy Lee "Sally's Song" - Nearly note for note redeux. Very nice, with Amy's incredible voice;
15. RJD2 "Christmas Eve Montage" Interesting tune in that this version sounds like a 70s police show theme song;
16. Plain White T's "Poor Jack" - The Plain White T's manage to keep the song's original,  forlorn sound but make it their own at the same time;
17. Datarock "To the Rescue" - New wave / techno version. Interesting but nothing remarkable. I would have rather heard Devo cover this;
18. Shiny Toy Guns "Finale/Reprise" - Also kind of Pink Floyd-ish (a la "The Division Bell" era) giving the song an interesting twist;
19. Danny Elfman "Closing" - See Track #2;
20. The Album Leaf "End Title" - Reminiscent of Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells." Again, interesting, but a little slow.

Frustratingly, one of the better tunes recorded for this record was Tiger Army and their version of "Oogie Boogie's Song," which appears as a bonus track on the downloadable version of this CD.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2008 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 04 Oct 2018 19:54:50 -0400.