In some ways, Who Framed Roger Rabbit was the Toy Story of the 80's - it was a technically ground breaking film that was also marvellously written and didn't just rely on the technology to impress the audience. Of course the technical marvel was that live action was combined so seemlessly with animation that you actually believe that Roger and his stunning animated girlfriend Jessica Rabbit really were there with Bob Hoskins and Christopher Lloyd. Being directed by Robert Zemeckis - in the time when he still made family films - notably the Back to the Future Trilogy, the score was penned by Alan Silvestri and the album has subsequently become a top collectible due to its deletion shortly after release.
Silvestri is a master at cartoon scoring, his style actually lends itself to writing in that idiom, while avoiding sounding like a Carl Stalling knock off. He is also a master tunesmith and Who Framed Roger Rabbit is brimming with great melodies. Curiously enough, Roger himself doesn't really get his own theme, but the ones for Bob Hoskin's grumpy private eye, Eddie Valiant is a superb pastiche Rozsa-esque film noir trumpet melody. Counter to that, Jessica's theme is as smoldering as they get. As coherent scores go, it isn't really, but then music for cartoons rarely is. The opening Maroon Cartoon is the closest to Carl Stalling that Silvestri gets, but those who've seen the opening know that the entire sequence is an homage to the original Tom and Jerry style cartoons of ultra violence that seems acceptable because it's animated.
Aside from Silvestri's contributions, there are some random ideas thrown in here and there. One of my favourite sequences in the film features Daffy and Donald Ducks both playing Lizst's Hungarian Rhapsody against each other and the thoughtful inclusion on the disc. The sultry Why Don't You Do Right? as sung by Jessica in the film, voice of Amy Irving in real life, is one of those ultra lusty female vocals that just oozes sexual tension, complementing Silvestri's theme for Jessica extremely well.
The album concludes with the End Title (which was recently featured on the Cast Away compilation album) and combines all the major themes and ideas into a zany suite that nicely encapculates the best parts of Silvestri's score. What once used to be a top collectible, is now much easier to find thanks to Disney, not a corporation I'd be inclined to thank often, who have thoughtfully re-released the album, but with different cover art (the one on the right). It's an eclectic score, which is both its strength and weakness. It never runs out of steam, but some might be hoping for a little more cohesion by the time it ends. However, one of the best scores of Silvestri's early career and highly recommended, especially on the chance that it might go out of print once again. Don't miss out this time!