THE HUMMIE MANN COLLECTION: VOLUME 1
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Dragon’s Domain Records, to be distributed through buysoundtrax.com, presents THE HUMMIE MANN COLLECTION, VOLUME 1, featuring the release of music composed by Hummie Mann for two films from his extensive filmography, THOMAS AND THE MAGIC RAILROAD and the IMAX film CYBERWORLD.
There are few characters in the history of family entertainment that boast a more devoted or passionate fan base than Thomas the Tank Engine. Born in the pages of a British children’s book series penned by Rev. Wilbert Awdry in 1946, Thomas the Tank Engine is an anthropomorphized steam locomotive who clickety-clacks over railroad tracks across the fictional island of Sodor. Released in 2000 and following in the great success of SHINING TIME STATION in the United States, THOMAS AND THE MAGIC RAILROAD finds Mr. Conductor (Alec Baldwin) running low on his supply of magical gold dust, which allows him to travel from place to place. Not knowing how to get more gold dust, Mr. Conductor must turn to his new friend, Lily (Mara Wilson), her grandfather, Burnett Stone (Peter Fonda) and his own unreliable cousin to find a solution. At the same time, Diesel 10, an evil diesel locomotive, has arrived on Sodor, with the intention of destroying all of the remaining steam locomotives. Can Sodor be saved from the evil diesel engines and can Mr. Conductor find more of the magical gold dust he needs to keep doing his job?
Hummie Mann’s charming underscore for THOMAS AND THE MAGIC RAILROAD is a fine example of rich orchestral film music bolstered by infectious themes, sumptuous harmony, and kaleidoscopic orchestration. While most films are typically scored in three to six weeks, Mann was given several months to pen all the material for the film. THOMAS AND THE MAGIC RAILROAD was recorded at Manta sound in Toronto, Ontario, with an eighty-five piece orchestra.
During the same year Mann penned his music for THOMAS AND THE MAGIC RAILROAD, he also wrote the score for a curious IMAX film titled CYBERWORLD 3D. CYBERWORLD 3D is a short forty-minute computer-animated IMAX film directed by Colin Davies and Elaine Despins. The story follows a character named Phig (Jenna Elfman) who takes the audience on a tour of CyberWorld—a virtual museum of various 3D animated exhibits. Three unwelcome bugs named Buzzed (Rob Smith), Wired (also Rob Smith), and Frazzled (Matt Frewer), worm their way into the museum and chomp up the outlying computer code. This inadvertently destroys the environment’s digital foundation forcing Phig into a conflict to save CyberWorld from total destruction. Mann’s twenty-two minutes of orchestral underscore was also recorded at Manta Sound in Toronto.
While THOMAS AND THE MAGIC RAILROAD did receive a soundtrack release when the film came out, it contained less than 30 minutes of the composer’s score. Dragon’s Domain Records is excited to bring THOMAS AND THE MAGIC RAILROAD in a much expanded presentation and the worldwide release of CYBERWORLD to compact disc for the first time as part of THE HUMMIE MANN COLLECTION, VOLUME 1, newly mastered by James Nelson at Digital Outland. The booklet includes exclusive liner notes written by author and composer Brian Satterwhite with the participation of the composer.
THE HUMMIE MANN COLLECTION, VOLUME 1 is a limited edition release of 500 units.
THE MAGIC RAILROAD
1. Main Title (1:44)
2. Here’s Diesel/Diesel Explains his Plan/Rainbow Sun (1:59)
3. Burnett’s Workshop / Patch MeetsLily/Diesel’s Gang (3:16)
4. Mr. C/Mutt Senses Trouble (2:47)
5. Guard Her Well/Lily & Bluebird (1:27)
6. Practical Joke/Sir Topham (1:48)
7. A Night in the Train Shed (3:16)
8. Mr. C’s Nightmare/Mutt Leads Lily On (2:18)
9. Where’s the Windmill?/Brain Veggies (2:48)
10. Lily Arrives/C Jr./Not Really Feeling Useful (2:35)
11. Stacy Drives Lily/Sodor at Night/Diesel Knocks Shed (2:54)
12. Coal Car Through the Buffer/Diesel Threatens Mr. C (2:32)
13. Not Be Stupid (0:38)
14. Lily Meets Patch/Lily Goes to Sodor/Lily Rides Thomas (4:46)
15. Spooky (3:01)
16. Thomas Takes Lily Through (3:20)
17. Lily Meets Lady/Diesel Attacks (2:05)
18. Lady Comes To Life (3:21)
19. Jr. Meets Lady/Diesel’s Final Pursuit (4:06)
20. The Clue Revealed (2:53)
21. Creation Sequence/Metal Monsters/Modern Cities (3:34)
22. Krakkens and Jabberwockys (3:07)
23. Phig Phinds the Bug/Frazzled, Buzzed and Wired (3:07)
24. Tonight’s Performance/ Phig Finds the Bug/Wrong Bug (3:44)
25. More Wrong Bugs/Bugs Watch Antz/Phig’s Got ‘em/Phig Gets Eaten (2:00)
26. Black Hole/Re-Creation Sequence (3:31)
27. End Credits (2:35)
Total Time: 76:21
The Hummie Mann Collection, Vol. 1: Thomas and the Magic Railroad/Cyberworld (2000) *** 1/2
Dragon’s Domain 725
27 tracks - 76:21
Add another composer to the roster of Dragon’s Domain’s ongoing series featuring previously unavailable scores. The Canadian-born Hummie Mann is someone with whom film music fans should be familiar from his many outings as a conductor (for the likes of Marc Shaiman and Christopher Young, among others) as well as an orchestrator. But others will know him from his fine composing work, with his collaborations with Mel Brooks perhaps being the most familiar (Robin Hood: Men in Tights; Dracula: Dead and Loving It!).
2000’s Thomas and the Magic Railroad was the live-action feature film debut of the popular children’s character, with Alec Baldwin starring as Mr. Conductor. Mann’s “Main Title” features a gentle, chugging rhythm that opens up into a magical orchestral theme the sets the stage for what’s to come. This general sound and palette continues forward, and the score is rife with wonderful motifs that weave their way throughout.
A fun, jazzy idea appears for Diesel (“Here’s Diesel”), adding a child-friendly, comedic touch, while a melancholy lyrical line contrasts in “Patch Meets Lily.” “A Night at the Train Shed,” “Coal Car Through the Buffer” and “Spooky” offer some requisite danger, which takes on an Elfmanian quality in “Diesel’s Final Pursuit.”
Overall, the score uses fine orchestral fare to tug at the heartstrings. While work in kids’ genres is sometimes overlooked, fans who take a chance on this album may be pleasantly surprised.
Paired with Thomas is Mann’s score for the 44-minute IMAX short CyberWorld (also from 2000), which was the first computer-animated film in the format. The narrator, Phig, is on the lookout for computer bugs and takes viewers on a 3D exhibit tour through various animated clips featuring familiar characters (Homer Simpson), the film Antz (1998), and even a Pet Shop Boys video.
An orchestral flourish gets the score started in “Creation Sequence,” followed by a warm thematic statement. “Metal Monsters” then introduces a strong, almost militaristic element to ratchet up the tension. A fun little Dies Irae reference highlights “Krakkens and Jabberwockys,” which also includes light wind writing. There’s also some requisite Mickey-Mousing in “Phig Phinds the Bug/Frazzled/Buzzed and Wired,” referencing Stalling techniques. Overall CyberWorld is a solid score that makes for a nice companion piece on this album.
As with previous releases in their composer series, Dragon’s Domain brings to light some fine music by another underrepresented voice in film music. Hummie Mann’s skills are on full display on this engaging album, a limited edition of only 500 copies (but also available digitally). More information and audio clips can be found at the label’s website. —Steven A. Kennedy