The Mannheim Steamroller “other” albums are considered to be everything but their Christmas and Fresh Aire CDs. Mannheim Steamroller is a pioneer of the new age music genre, and has continuously been producing original and arranged music for the last several decades. I am a huge fan, and have picked out, in my opinion, the 8 best Mannheim Steamroller songs from their other albums besides the Christmas and Fresh Aire series.
Here are my top 8 picks, in chronological order…
1. Tigers & Lions- Saving the Wildlife, 1986
I’ve been listening to this song for almost my entire life, and it’s always been a favorite of mine. The ethnic sound makes you feel that you’re in India surrounded by Tigers. This song plus several others were written for the soundtrack of a PBS special about saving the wildlife. Wolves is another excellent song from the album, and if you’ve never seen the music video for Wolfgang Amadeus Penguin it’s hilarious.
2. Fugue- Impressions, 1993
When Chip Davis first met his very good friend Arnie Roth (Mannheim’s violinist) he thought he was a really classical guy. But later found out that when he was in college he played in a heavy metal bad. So, Chip wrote this song for Arnie, which is why it’s on the album Impressions (an album made up entirely of gifts that Chip Davis wrote for various friends and family members). He describes this song as a “Gothic Concerto Sounding Dooda Something or Other”, and it’s quite en excellent piece.
3. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious- Mannheim Meets the Mouse, 1999
I hope I spelled that right! I love most of the songs on this album, and was especially pleased with this arrangement of my favorite Mary Poppin’s tune, which recently had a successful run on Broadway. This album is an excellent collection of arranged Disney tunes and should be in your collection along with their Christmas albums.
4. You’ve Got a Friend In Me- Mannheim Meets the Mouse, 1999
I love the synthetic bass line of this song! Not only is this a classic Disney movie and a great Randy Newman song, but it’s a brilliant Mannheim Steamroller arrangement. When this album was released I drove down to the music store during my lunch break in order to get it. I first heard about it when they performed Under the Sea at their live show during the Christmas in the Aire tour.
5. Slo Dancin’ in the Living Room- Romantic Melodies, 2001
This song is quite different from all the others I have picked. For me, it just paints a very quaint little story about a loving married couple spending a few minutes of their busy day to be romantic and slow dance together in the living room. With, most likely, screaming children and burning food on the stove in the other room.
6. Mt. McKinley- Spirit, 2003
The feel of this piece is very American, which is why it blends so well into Mannheim’s patriotic album- Spirit. It’s an original composition by Chip Davis and channels Aaron Copland and other great American composers. It’s short, but sweet. The Star-Spangled Banner is another wonderful arrangement on this album which also appears on the albums Impressions and To Russia With Love.
7. All Hallow’s Eve- Halloween, 2003
This Halloween piece, an original composition by Chip Davis, fits perfectly into the season. It’s always well received at Halloween parties. I wish they had thought to do Halloween albums back when they first started. I wouldn’t mind if they released a few more. I’ve always thought it was funny that they put “Deranged by Chip Davis” on the album credits.
8. Creatures of the Night- Halloween 2, 2006
This creation was designed for dance clubs, and was the first time that Mannheim Steamroller did something for the Dance/Techno genre. In the music video you get to see Chip Davis play the Theremin creating all sorts of eerie sounds. They even went so far as to create a line dance specifically for this song for people to dance to in clubs.
Whether you agree with my picks or not, there is no disputing that Chip Davis of Mannheim Steamroller is the best contemporary composer/arranger of our time.