Various Artists - Stay Awake (A&M/UMe)
I hail producer Hal Wilner, not just for his short-lived but innovative music variety television show Sunday Night, or his Sirius radio show with Lou Reed, but his excellent tribute records including the timeless classic Disney tribute Stay Awake (A&M/UMe). Originally released in 1988, this remastered Record Store Day Black Friday album on double vinyl (only 3500 copies) sounds simply amazing. And it features a marvelously eclectic mix of artists like Michael Stipe, Bill Frisell, Harry Nilsson, Aaron Neville, NRBQ, Sun Ra Arkestra, Suzanne Vega to name but a few. One can't help but applaud a producer who would willingly take on the music of the Disney catalog and then set those beloved songs on fire by allowing the musicians complete poetic license.
The sonic depth and quality of these iconic tunes jump off the album. And with so many extraordinary tracks to choose from one must listen to it in its entirety to experience the aural majesty. Some of my favorites include Bonnie Raitt and Was (Not Was)'s soulfully bluesy reading of the ballad "Baby Mine" from Dumbo, James Taylor's poignant and moving cover of "Second Star To The Right" from Peter Pan, Tom Waits' clanging and banging "Heigh Ho (The Dwarves Marching Song)" from Snow White, and my very favorite -- Los Lobos' spirited Americana roots-rock take on "I Wanna Be Like You (The Monkey Song)" that was originally done by Louis Prima for Jungle Book.
Treat yourself to an early holiday gift and buy this album now!