Ken Hensley’s Hammond sound came to define Uriah Heep in their prime seventies era, while his writing talents produced many of their most famous songs. Even though he left that band in 1980, he has continued to produce solo recordings on a regular basis, and has now clocked up an impressive fifty-year career.
Not only is The Nightmare Before Christmas one of the best musicals of the past two decades; it may well be Danny Elfman's masterpiece, successfully integrating his main influences (from Cab Calloway to Nino Rota) into a fantastic whole. The first disc of this reissue features the original soundtrack, its songs still teetering between dark humor and poetic flights of fancy; this so-called kids' music is at least as sophisticated and skilled as anything you're likely to hear on Broadway. The second disc includes demo versions of four songs on which Elfman plays and sings everything, and five new covers of some of Nightmare's best-loved songs. Marilyn Manson successfully applies his spooky Weimar-circus style on "This Is Halloween" while Panic! At the Disco's lushly orchestrated take on the same tune is closer to the original. Fiona Apple's poignant "Sally's Song" is enhanced by very nice string charts, and She Wants Revenge does a disco take on "Kidnap the Sandy Claws." Best perhaps is Fall Out Boy's cover of "What's This?" which sounds like an unexpected cross between the Beach Boys and Queen. A highly recommended set.