It seems incredible now to think that a score to a Disney animated film would have to wait for the enterprising Varese Sarabande to step in and release it. This is even more surprising given that the score is penned by the late, great Henry Mancini. While this was penned later in his life, it still sounds fresh and is as entertaining as anything he wrote in the 60's. The Main Title introduces the jaunty, slightly baroque main theme which is bouncy and instantly memorable. It makes occasional appearances throughout the score and in a variety of guises. To counter this, Mancini gives us a wonderful selection of comedic, over the top villain music in Enter Ratigan which prowls about menacingly.
A Disney animation would of course not be complete without a sprinkling of songs and Mancini duly provides a few modestly entertaining numbers. The World's Greatest Criminal Mind is long and a bit disjointed, but is carried through by Vincent Prices' marvellously over the top performance as arch villain Ratigan (who evidently steals the show in the film). The choral chorus doesn't work quite as well, but is enjoyable none the less. Let Me Be Good To Me is actually a lot better; a raunchy big band number given a gutsy performance by Melissa Manchester (a name I can't quite believe to be real, but still). Goodbye So Soon has a roaring 20's jazzy tinge to it and given yet another joyful performance by Vincent Price. The album is rounded out by Beig Ben Chase, a great action number and then the joyful End Title and an ensemble reprise of Goodbye So Soon.
While the songs aren't perhaps up to the best of Menken or the classic Disney films, they are entertaining enough and the instrumental underscore is superb. The disappointing songs are not helped by slightly dubious mixing at times, notably during ensemble sections of World's Greatest Criminal Mind. However Mancini's instrumental underscore is quite superb in every way, tuneful and dramatic in all the right places. There is perhaps more than usual hiss for a score of this vintage (it's only mid 1980's after all), but that aside, it sounds wonderful. I suspect it's hard to find these days, but should you be lucky enough to stumble across a copy in a second hand shop as I did, pick it up for a joyous treat from a master composer.