Due to one of my local retailers putting out their stock of new releases on Sunday instead of Tuesday, I am able to offer a sneak peak to Tuesday’s US release of the new Mamma Mia! The Movie Deluxe Edition Soundtrack.
The Deluxe Edition Soundtrack is housed in a hardbound book that’s roughly the size of a standard DVD plastic case. When the “book” style packaging is opened it reveals a printed book attached the the front part of the cover and a heavy duty 2 disc clear plastic tray glued down the the back side. As the book tends to look more like a booklet that’s just glued to the front side of the cover, when you open it, you’ll see the back cover of the booklet and you’ll have to manually flip to the pages you want.
The discs included are a soundtrack CD that features different screen printing on the actual disc from the previously released version. Instead of a photo from the “Voulez-Vous” scene, the disc now features a shot of the main cast in their “Waterloo” scene outfits lined up with sparks flying in the background. The track listing of the CD is also printed on the disc below the image. The bonus DVD that’s exclusive to this package, also features the same “Waterloo” image except the text below the image indicates it’s a bonus DVD.
For the US version, the entire package comes in shrinkwrap featuring a label that states “The #1 Soundtrack In America” in large print with “Limited Edition Deluxe Packaging” in smaller print beneath it. Also included in the package is the same square card advertising the opportunity to purchase Mamma Mia! The Movie Ringtones that was originally included in the previously released version of the soundtrack.
The booklet begins with a short essay entitled “Mamma Mia! From Stage To Screen” that makes no indication who wrote it. The essay pretty much regurgitates the same statistic information about Mamma Mia! Universal has been pushing in part of the promotion of the movie during it’s run, such as 30 million people have seen the stage show in twenty productions and eight different languages selling more than two billion dollars worth of tickets. Besides covering a little bit of the genesis of the show to highlight the Charmed sisters and the Power of Three (oops, I mean the real life Dynamos, Producer Judy Craymer, Writer Catherine Johnson, and Director Phillida Lloyd), the essay also highlights the stages of the recording process for the movie soundtrack and stating how Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson felt the soundtrack should be able to stand on its own as a pop album.
Additionally, there’s also an essay by Martin Lowe, the Musical Director for the stage show and the movie called “Behind The Music.” Lowe discusses how he had no experience being a Musical Director for a movie so he was trading his knowledge of “all things ABBA” for a crash course in the art in movie making with the film’s Music Supervisor Becky Bentham and the Music Editors Tony Lewis and Rob Houston. He also discusses the recording process for the music and the process by which all the actors were coached. He also discusses that all the background vocals in the film are done by cast members from the original Stockholm production of Mamma Mia! claiming that because they’re Swedes they sound more like ABBA than ABBA did themselves. And he also discusses how a children’s choir was recorded for “I Have A Dream” and how an off the cuff comment from Benny at the recording session resulted in them recording the choir for inclusion into “Dancing Queen” as well.
Additionally, the booklet also offers a two page spread covering the Greek locations of the film shoot with some photos of each and a paragraph write up about each of the various places in Greece. The paragraphs cover how each was used in the film as well as little tidbits of information about each location.
And finally, the balance of the booklet contains the lyrics to each song, where each song gets it’s own page. Most of the pictures on the page for each song correspond to scenes that are featured in the film for their respective songs. In a couple of cases, there are some photos used that don’t exactly correspond to the footage in the film for these songs, such as the page covering the lyrics for the song “Mamma Mia” show three separate photos of the trio of Dads. Pierce Brosnan’s photo corresponds to “The Winner Takes It All”, Colin Firth’s originates from “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!”, and Stellan Skarsgård’s is from “The Name Of The Game”. And the last page covers the credits for the Soundtrack and music in the film.
The soundtrack CD included is identical to the previously released soundtrack album. The only difference to the previously released version is that the artwork on the disc is different and that’s discussed above. The music is exactly the same. They still leave “Thank You For The Music” as a hidden track and there’s no version of “Chiquitita”, “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do”, nor “Waterloo” to “complete” the soundtrack.
The DVD has two features on it. It contains an approximately 12 minute “Behind The Music” feature. This little look behind the scenes actually has quite a bit of interview footage of Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson (far more so than any of the special features on the Mamma Mia! The Movie DVD.) Additionally, there are interview segments with Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski, Pierce Brosnan, Julie Walters, Amanda Seyfried, Judy Craymer, Catherine Johnson, Phillida Lloyd, and Gary Gotzman. Some of the comments from them are also in the features on the movie DVD, but mostly its different footage and the focus of the discussion is the music. In addition to interview footage, the Behind The Music feature incorporates footage from original ABBA Videos as well as some pieces of original ABBA songs, as well as footage from the film and stage versions of Mamma Mia! as well as in studio footage of the film cast recording the songs.
In probably one of the nicest things I’ve ever heard Benny say about Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid “Frida” Lyngstad, he says in the interview footage, “We thought we were good songwriters, Björn and I. And we also thought that Frida and Agnetha were tremendous singers. We thought we were pretty good. You know?” And one of the funnier comments comes from Christine Baranski who states she was in a record store sometime in “the early 80’s” and hearing this song come on that just made her take notice. The song is “Dancing Queen” which makes you wonder if Christine actually meant the late 70’s or she was some how living under a rock and never heard “Dancing Queen” prior to the early 80’s.
This “Behind the Music” look at Mamma Mia! The Movie is a great feature that focuses more on the music than any of the features that actually make it onto the Mamma Mia! The Movie DVD. So it’s worth getting the deluxe edition of the soundtrack for this feature alone. And unlike the film credits for Mamma Mia! The Movie, both Agnetha and Frida get thanked in the credits for this bonus feature! The only disappointment I would have about this feature is that the sound is plain 2.0 stereo and not 5.1 surround sound, so I had to manually switch my home theater sound mix to stereo because the forced surround sound made the interviews sound like crap.