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The Secret of N.I.M.H.
1986 Album

1994 Album

Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
Jerry Goldsmith

Orchestrated by:
Arthur Morton

Performed by:
The National Philharmonic Orchestra and The Ambrosian Singers

Lyrics by:
Paul Williams

Labels and Dates:
Varèse Sarabande

Varèse Sarabande
(October 11th, 1994)

Also See:

Audio Clips:
1994 Album:

4. The Tractor (0:28):
WMA (186K)  MP3 (226K)
Real Audio (140K)

7. Flying Dreams (0:32):
WMA (209K)  MP3 (258K)
Real Audio (160K)

11. The House Rising (0:31):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (251K)
Real Audio (156K)

12. Flying High/End Title (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

Both albums were regular U.S. releases, but the 1986 album was already long out of print by the time the 1994 album debuted.


The Secret of N.I.M.H.

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Sales Rank: 310082

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Buy it... if you seek an impressive preview of Jerry Goldsmith's future wealth of strong, consistent music for children's fantasy and animated films.

Avoid it... if more of an outwardly dynamic and powerful spirit uninhibited by archival sound quality is what you seek in your Goldsmith material of grand scope.

The Secret of N.I.M.H.: (Jerry Goldsmith) Animated films were undergoing a significant change in the 1980's, one which would eventually lead to the vast business of made-for-video animated pictures for small children. For a long time, Disney held a grip on the large-scale, animated film industry, but by the time The Little Mermaid revived their dominance in 1989 after a long string of underachieving entries, several offshoots of that industry were thriving. One such offshoot was director and producer Don Bluth, who had been a Disney animator until 1979, when he started his own animation business. Eventually, he would be best known for bringing to life the highly acclaimed An American Tail and The Land Before Time series. One of his early efforts was the animated, non-musical adaptation of Robert C. O'Brien's "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats N.I.M.H.," the tale of rats made intelligent in human laboratories that escape to try to form a community for themselves in the wild. Bluth certainly succeeded in stealing some attention from Disney, with The Secret of N.I.M.H. meeting with critical and popular success and remaining a sentimental favorite for many viewers decades later. One of the reasons for this positive response was the traditional score by Jerry Goldsmith. The early to mid-1980's were a remarkable time in Goldsmith's career (and some will argue with good reason that it was the best), and The Secret of N.I.M.H. was an entry during this period that represented a departure for the veteran composer. He had never scored an animated picture; in fact, his body of work was limited on the children's front, with the majority of attention paid to him for his horror, science fiction, and war drama scores at the time. Goldsmith admits that he at first did not know how to go about scoring the film, remarking that animated films require a different role for the music than their live action counterparts. His solution was to treat The Secret of N.I.M.H. as though it were one of his regular projects, allowing the music to maintain a sense of consistency that would assist the story reach organic appeal. The composer also noted that animated films need great continuity in their music to help ease the frequent transitions between quick scene and angle changes in the narrative. Thus, the end result of his work for The Secret of N.I.M.H. is a score that does not play like a post-2000 animated film score. There are no jumpy phrases, sudden parody blasts, or joke-line crescendos. Sparingly mixed into the orchestral performances by the National Philharmonic Orchestra are The Ambrosian Singers, a usual group of collaborators with the composer at the time.

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Instead, Goldsmith tackles the score with the same lengthy cue structure as Poltergeist or Star Trek: The Motion Picture, with the music taking its good time building up momentum to its action sequences and then letting off its steam slowly. The choral application is expected and not of particular note, mostly because the composer treats the singers as though they are just another element of the symphonic ensemble. Thus, they perform lines that typically compliment or replace the strings and therefore aren't meant as overtly majestic accents. The orchestra's recording is crisp and surprisingly clear in the upper brass regions during cues of elevated action. There is some archival harshness to the brass that often resulted from the mixes of scores from this era, though this distinction adds an appropriate amount of minimal menace when needed in the tone of the music. A strong and fluid sense of consistency both aids and hinders the score, not allowing Goldsmith to pull out all the plugs in singular moments as he would for Legend. Also of note is the fact that Goldsmith completely abandons his synthetic elements in this recording, a rarity for the composer at the time. This yields moments of soaring symphonic grace such as "Flying High/End Title," which offer victorious renditions of the primary themes in a conservatively pretty environment. For many listeners, the most memorable aspect of The Secret of N.I.M.H. is the "Flying Dreams" song and its associated thematic integration into the score. Written by Goldsmith, the song is performed by Paul Williams, whose stylistically lazy vocal slurring perfectly fits the fantasy genre. The melody from this song is adapted throughout the score, with additional vocal performances and several dynamic orchestral statements. Its integration into the aforementioned concluding cue is reminiscent of the gentle and lyrical treatment of theme that existed at the end of Poltergeist, but without the choir (and horror undertones, of course). On album, the score was released on identical LP and CD formats in the 1980's, existing as one of the very early Japanese-pressed Varèse Sarabande CDs (complete with a piece of foam over the center of the CD in its packaging). Eventually, in 1994, Varèse re-pressed the album with different artwork and notes, taking the opportunity to reorder the tracks into their natural progression. The original CD is long out of print and difficult to find, but the 1994 release has identical contents overall and decent sound quality. Goldsmith fans may be disappointed by the lack of a true dynamic spirit to many parts of this score, but you cannot discount the number of people who fondly recall the effect that The Secret of N.I.M.H. had on them or their children. It's a solid entry all around that only its archival sound quality restrains. Outside of the primary theme, however, it's not quite as memorable as James Horner's subsequent scores for Bluth's ventures. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Jerry Goldsmith reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.26 (in 113 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.26 (in 138,592 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.45 Stars
Smart Average: 3.34 Stars*
***** 148 
**** 150 
*** 126 
** 72 
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    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   FVSR Reviews The Secret Of NIMH
  Brendan Cochran -- 10/8/14 (11:15 a.m.)
   Truely enchanting music
  Jouko Yli-Kiikka -- 2/10/07 (10:28 a.m.)
   Since I was a Child
  Joern -- 7/3/03 (9:54 a.m.)
   A truly beautiful score
  Philip -- 6/30/03 (11:40 a.m.)
Read All | Add New Post | Search | Help  

 Track Listings (1986 Album): Total Time: 48:31

• 1. Main Title (3:14)
• 2. The Tractor (2:58)
• 3. The Sentry Reel/Story of N.I.M.H. (6:04)
• 4. Step Inside my House (4:41)
• 5. The House Raising (4:34)
• 6. Moving Day (7:56)
• 7. No Thanks (2:01)
• 8. Allergic Reaction/Athletic Type (2:41)
• 9. Flying Dreams - Lullaby (3:17) - performed by Sally Stevens
• 10. Escape from NIMH/In Disguise (4:59)
• 11. Flying High/End Title (2:41)
• 12. Flying Dreams (3:25) - performed by Paul Williams

 Track Listings (1994 Album): Total Time: 49:05

• 1. Main Title (3:13)
• 2. Allergic Reaction/Athletic Type (2:40)
• 3. Flying Dreams - Lullaby (3:45) - performed by Sally Stevens
• 4. The Tractor (2:58)
• 5. The Sentry Reel/The Story of N.I.M.H. (6:03)
• 6. Escape from N.I.M.H./In Disguise (4:58)
• 7. Flying Dreams (3:21) - performed by Paul Williams
• 8. Step Inside my House (4:40)
• 9. No Thanks (2:01)
• 10. Moving Day (7:57)
• 11. The House Rising (4:33)
• 12. Flying High/End Title (2:38)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The sparse 1986 album's insert contains a rare note from Goldsmith about the score. That product came with a foam ring to hold the CD in place (a definite sign of a very early CD product). The 1994 album's insert features a note about Goldsmith's career up to the date of pressing.

  All artwork and sound clips from The Secret of N.I.M.H. are Copyright © 1986, 1994, Varèse Sarabande, Varèse Sarabande. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 6/4/03 and last updated 3/26/09. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2003-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.