Just 15 months after Brian Wilson released his tribute to the music of George Gershwin, out popped another tribute album -- this one saluting the 75 years of original songs from the feature films of Walt Disney. Granted, this tribute is even more natural than Gershwin, since Wilson grew up just minutes away from Disneyland, and as a child of the '50s, had probably memorized perennials like "Whistle While You Work" and "When You Wish Upon a Star" before he ever considered writing songs about surfing. (Not to mention the fact that his Gershwin tribute actually came out on one of Disney's labels, as does this one.) Despite the natural feel of these songs as sung by Wilson and performed by his talented backing band, anyone who's paid attention to his solo career of the '90s and 2000s won't hear any surprises: there's the straight Phil Spector homage ("Kiss the Girl," from The Little Mermaid), several forced and hammy straight-ahead rockers (such as "You've Got a Friend in Me," written by Wilson's friend Randy Newman for Toy Story), and the occasional stroke of magic, like the could've-been-a-prime-Beach-Boys ballad "Baby Mine" (Dumbo) or the stunning harmonies that open "When You Wish Upon a Star" (Pinocchio). Fans of pop music or Wilson's special brand of production magic will especially enjoy the arrangements, like the marimbas and banjo playing on "The Bare Necessities," or the assortment of intriguing voicings from all manner of slightly exotic instruments (B-3, Moog, 12-string guitar and electric 12-string guitar, wooden flute, piccolo, musical saw, etc.). Wilson and fellow musical arranger Paul Von Mertens are at their best on the ballads, including "When You Wish Upon a Star," as well as the Mary Poppins chestnut "Stay Awake."
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AllMusic Review by John Bush