"I was very excited about this album, thought that it had a ton of potential. "Tocatta in DeMole" is the opening measures of the "Tocatta in D Minor" by Bach, followed by the "Fugue in D Minor" also by Bach. As a fan of the Tocatta and Fugue, I was looking forward to the Steamroller interpretation, since "G Major Tocatta" was such a great pipe-organ-rock piece. However, I kept thinking, "OK, Chip, time to cut loose!" The piece never achieves its potential, staying very bland. Compare the two Tocattas Steamroller has done and tell me I'm wrong. The interpretation of Bach's Tocatta was far better in the video game "Gyruss!"Next up is Hall of the Mountain King. Again, I thought this would be great. However, the tempo never changes, and the rhythm makes it sound like it's done on a drum machine. To the song's credit, it does achieve a certain level of creepiness, which is its saving grace. Electric Light Orchestra had a better interpretation.Harvest Dance is very well done, one of the best tracks, but doesn't really fit in the Halloween mood aside from the title. It is more like a lost track from the Fresh Aire series.Flying Dutchman is also well done, with a very good use of orchestration.Z-Row Gravity is boring, hitting a solid 6 Kitaro Field strength, or the equivalent of mixing alcohol and sleeping pills.Much as I hate to lump the rest of the CD together, the rest of the album didn't have any surprises. It is all very uniform, dull, and uninspired. Throw on the re-release of "Crystal" from Fresh Aire 4 as the final insult to the audience, and it's clear that there is no point in buying Mannheim Steamroller CDs any more.If you want a good Halloween mix, look for Chiller by Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, in the Classical Music section of Amazon. It may not rock, but the music is far better."
Not too many chills, but lots of fun
David Kenner | 10/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After reading so many negative reviews, and after having slammed Fresh Aire 8 a couple years ago, I felt the need to write a positive review for this album. I play this album at least once a day, because it is so much fun. As other reviewers have said, Chip just didn't quite get that the music should be more creepy than upbeat in order to create a good Halloween mood. Instead he created an album full of the classical rock music that Mannheim Steamroller is known for, without the usual beautiful, slower tracks to vary the mood. I personally think that this album has a lot more appeal to longtime Mannheim Steamroller fans such as myself rather than the more widespread appeal I think Chip was aiming for (and which he achieved on his Christmas albums), especially those such as myself who, while we enjoy the slow, beautiful tracks, are really waiting for Chip to bring out the synthesizers and drums again and combine them with classical instruments. I will also concede that the originals are not the greatest Chip has ever written, but once again they are good fun. Rock and Roll Graveyard is my personal favorite on the album and it is not at all substantial - just a lot of fun. Certainly, some tracks are better than others, and it does bother me that Crystal and Z-Row Gravity were included (I would much rather have had more original material). Tocatta in de Mole, like Hallelujah Chorus before it, is a very watered-down and uninspiring arrangement, but is not too offensive and for me the rest of the album makes up for it. The sound effects disc is pretty good too. My advice for the prospective buyer is this: if you are looking for a truly scary Halloween album which really sets the mood, then pass this one by. If, however, you love Mannheim Steamroller at its most energetic (but not necessarily most musically substantial - actual musical quality varies from brilliant arrangements to fun pieces of fluff)then you should definitely buy this album. I'm glad I did, and I will probably be playing it until I break out the first Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Thanksgiving weekend."
Chip Davis' Nightmare
David Kenner | Fort Worth, Texas United States | 03/21/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I wanted to buy this set when it was first released but something told me to hold off (I think it was my bank account). Anyway, now that I've heard the disc (which I borrowed) I'm glad I didn't buy it. It's not bad. There's nothing bad about it. It's just not as good as American Gramophone's catalog would lead you to believe. The music disc is a mixture of spooky-themed classical pieces and Chip Davis originals. I actually like the originals better, perhaps because I didn't have anything else to compare them to. The covers of the classical pieces are, of course, Mannheimed up to to sound contemporary, a la the Steamroller's Christmas discs. Sometimes it works and sometimes...it doesn't quite work. It's okay listening, but I wouldn't play it at a party or out my window on Halloween night. It's a little too goofy. There was a contemporary take on "In The Hall Of The Mountain King" performed by Louis Clark & The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra that came out on a CD about 15 years ago (long out of print) that I think was a much better arrangement. (I wish I could find that CD!) The main thing I was interested in was the sound effects disc though. Chip stated in the AG catalog that his sound effects disc would be world-class, and not the $1.98 variety. I listened to it all the way through and most of it is pretty good. The sound is good quality and it sets a spooky scene. However, and this is a big however, there are three tracks on this disc entitled "The Enchanted Forest". All three of these tracks are virtually the same! In addition, some of the other differently titled tracks contain the same "Enchanted Forest" sound effects for the second half of the track. For example, there's a track called "The Reaper". For the first minute or so, it's the sound of clocks ticking. It sounds like it's building to something but then the clocks fade out and we're back in the "Enchanted Forest" for the remaining 2 minutes of the track! I won't say that this disc is not well produced, because it is. I just think it could have been more."
figmentdragon | South Carolina | 10/11/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I am a huge fan of the previous themed releases from Mannheim Steamroller (ie. Fresh Aire Christmas & Meets the Mouse). While "Halloween" does not exactly live up to the usual Chip Davis standard, it is nonetheless an intriguing experiment in the macabre with its own merits.The Chip Davis "derangements" of such classics as "Night on Bald Mountain" and "Ride of the Valkyries" - standard fare on such a release - are satisfactorily done, if not completely fresh. "Rite of Twilight," a Twilight Zone arrangement, and "The Sorceror's Apprentice," a much desired oversight from the "Meets the Mouse" CD are two of the better tracks, blending enough of their traditional sound with Chip Davis' trademark whimsy. The biggest disappointment of this disc - aside from the repeat of "Crystal" from Fresh Aire IV - is the number of uninspired originals that serve as nothing more than CD padding. "Z-row Gravity" is adequate, though not exactly Halloween fare, but "Harvest Dance," "Rock & Roll Graveyard," and "All Hallow's Eve" work better as titles than as songs. And since "The Sorceror's Apprentice" is the most recent composition that Chip Davis arranges for this disc, "Halloween" feels a bit dated. Where are the variations of such pop culture Halloween favorites as "Theme from Halloween," "Tubular Bells," or even "This is Halloween" from A Nightmare Before Christmas?When it is all said and done, "Halloween" is a must-have for hard-core Mannheim Steamroller fans, but it is mostly a shadow of what might have been."
Could have been great but . . .
James Wilson | Colorado Springs, CO USA | 10/14/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"As a big Steamroller fan, perhaps my hopes were set a little too high. I envisioned more original music (perhaps a more scarier vibe than the silly one this CD has to it) and maybe a few covered tunes. Chips originals (from the Fresh Aire series)found on this CD outshine the weak efforts put forth on the covered and rearranged tracks. The sound effects disc sets a great(and creepy)mood, that should had been followed through with some new and equally scary compositions.
If you're a die hard Mannheim fan (as in 'I just have to own everything Chip puts out') I say go for it. But otherwise spend your Halloween money elsewhere. Overall this is a forced and lazy effort."