Title: 'The Snowman' w/ sax solo instead of singer?
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CluelessInSeattle
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(Date Posted:02/17/2011 15:09)


Something like a couple of decades ago I borrowed from the Seattle Public Library a VHS copy of the animated Christmas film "The Snowman"

When I played it I was surprised to find that during the flying scene, instead of boy singer Peter Auty's haunting solo of "Walking in the Air," a saxophone solo of the same melody was played instead.

This VHS version of "The Snowman" has long since disappeared from the library's collection, and I've been unable to find any information about it.  I did write down on a slip of paper the name of the company that distributed that odd version of the film.  But after years of being disabled by chronic illness, I've long since lost track of that slip of paper.

I'm wondering which came first, the sax version or the sung version.  

And where I could find a high quality recording of the sax version.

I did have the presence of mind back then to record onto a little handheld cassette recorder the audio of that sax solo from the VHS tape.  Here's what it sounded like:

    "The Snowman," "Walking in the Air" Sax Solo

I'd sure be grateful to any of you who can offer me clues to help me solve this mystery.

==========================================================================

P.S.  I've been reading the customer reviews at Amazon.com and so far have found one that mentions the VHS tape without the Peter Auty vocal: 

"The DVD version includes terrible vocals dubbed over the most pleasant part of the music of this movie. I was horrified. When I mentioned it to my daughter, she said that I was surely mistaken because that would ruin the whole tone of the movie.

"A review of the VCR tape proved that, sadly, I was not dreaming. I can't imagine what possessed the manufacturer to tarnish this lovely story with someone singing over the beautiful notes of the instruments AND NOT MENTION IT IN THE ADVERTISEMENT YET. I will REALLY treasure my VCR tape now"
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Will in Seattle
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RE:'The Snowman' w/ sax solo instead of singer?
(Date Posted:02/18/2011 02:45)


I have an original 1982 VHS copy of this delightful animated special, as well as the later released DVD, and both have Peter's vocal version of the song. I'll have to check in to this and see what I can find, if anything, about this mysterious solo sax version. I can only speculate that for a time there must have been a copyright issue with the original song, which forced Sony to temporarily substitute it with this instrumental sax version. If I come up with anything, I'll post it here.


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Lawrence F. "Chip" Arcuri
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CluelessInSeattle
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RE:'The Snowman' w/ sax solo instead of singer?
(Date Posted:02/18/2011 08:25)


Thanks for offering to help on this, Chip.

If anyone can get to the bottom of this mystery, you're the man.

Here's one additional clue:

The Seattle library had two different VHS versions of "The Snowman" animated movie.

One with the singer and the other with the sax solo.

The art on the cardboard sleeves was different and they were from different distributors.

Back in the late 80s or early 90s when I actually had the VHS cassette with the sax solo in my hands, I did a web search for the distributor, but came up with nothing.  I think in those days it was pre-Google and I was probably using the then popular  Alta-Vista search engine.

It's encouraging to know I've got a super-sleuth on the case this time around!

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RE:'The Snowman' w/ sax solo instead of singer?
(Date Posted:02/18/2011 20:56)


Will,

I checked with some of my contacts in the industry and here's the scoop:

First of all, there was indeed a re-released version of the film that featured an all-instrumental version of the song Walking In The Air instead of Peter Auty's vocal version. As with the original vocal version, the music for this instrumental version was arranged and conducted by the film's music composer, Howard Blake. And no, it is not available for purchase on CD or via download.

Second, there are also two different narrations for the film as well: the original version which featured an introduction by the story's author Raymond Briggs, and a second version with an introduction by rock star David Bowie. The current DVD has the original narration by Raymond Briggs.

If you'd like to see the David Bowie intro, click the YouTube video posted below:









*[Edited 02/19/11 to add YouTube listing for the David Bowie intro]



(Message edited by Christmas Music Guru On 02/19/2011 00:30)
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Lawrence F. "Chip" Arcuri
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CluelessInSeattle
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RE:'The Snowman' w/ sax solo instead of singer?
(Date Posted:02/18/2011 23:04)


You are amazing, Chip!  Many thanks for tracking this down.

Did your sources tell you why they released a version without the vocal of "Walking in the Air"?

It's a shame the instrumental version isn't available on CD.  It would make a great "bonus track" on the CD of the sound track recording.

Or for that matter, on the DVD, the flying scene could have an option to play the alternate track.

I wonder whom I would contact to offer that as a suggestion.
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RE:'The Snowman' w/ sax solo instead of singer?
(Date Posted:02/19/2011 00:33)


It's unknown as to why they made the change, but we think that it could be because the feeling at the time was that an instrumental version of the song fit in better with the overall show since there is no dialogue, with the exception of the short introduction at the beginning.

As for who to contact with your suggestion about adding the instrumental version of the song as a bonus feature, that would be Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Here is their email address: consumer@SPHECustomerSupport.sony.com


By the way, I edited my previous message by adding a YouTube posting of the reissue David Bowie introduction, in case you've never seen it.


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RE:'The Snowman' w/ sax solo instead of singer?
(Date Posted:02/25/2011 12:56)

I found this on IMDB:

  • "Apparently there is also a long deleted American video version with an instrumental non-vocal rendition of 'Walking In the Air'. This was seemingly put together in the Eighties as part of an American royalty payment deal with Howard Blake, a deal where American distributors could get the film for less money if they released the movie with a non-vocal rendition. This version is long forgotten, and no distibutors today have any interest in putting it out."

       IMDB: How Many Versions?

I also found a Howard Blake web site and emailed him asking if he could tell us the story of how the non-vocal version of the soundtrack came to be, and what has become of it.

       Howard Blake: English Composer of "The Snowman"

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RE:'The Snowman' w/ sax solo instead of singer?
(Date Posted:02/25/2011 15:00)


I had a feeling that money was involved somehow; that's why in my first post on the thread I contended that it might be a copyright issue with the song. But I never would have imagined that it was as a result of a royalty deal that American distributors had worked out with Howard Blake to get the film for less money.

Frankly, it's too bad that it is not available anymore; I'd prefer that version of the film with the instrumental rendition of the song over the vocal. I always found that vocal by Peter Auty a little spooky.


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Lawrence F. "Chip" Arcuri
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CluelessInSeattle
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RE:'The Snowman' w/ sax solo instead of singer?
(Date Posted:03/16/2018 09:34)

Edit: Never Mind!  I found it!

It just occurred to me that perhaps I was using the wrong search term.  I had been searching for "Snowman."  So just now I tried searching for "Walking," and Bingo!  Up it popped.

So, now I'm trying to figure out how to delete my message from a few minutes ago:

Hey Chip, remember that MP3 that I linked to in this thread many years ago -- the one with "Walking in the Air" played as a sax solo instead of being sung?

Well yesterday I decided to finally get around to sorting through the remainder of my old audio cassettes and try to winnow them down to what what is truly irreplaceable.  I came across the audio cassette of that sax version of "Walking in the Air" and that reminded me that I had once transferred it to an MP3. 

But when I searched my hard drive, that MP3 didn't turn up.  I suspect that it resides on the hard drive of an old PC that I junked when I moved a couple of years ago. 

So I Googled for this thread and tried the link from my initial post.  But I got this error message:
 
 Server not found

 Firefox can’t find the server at www.freedrive.com.

Oh well, I thought, that's ok, I'll just have to transfer it again.  But when I tried to play the cassette in my old dusty stereo cassette deck, the tape deck turned out to have died on me sometime in the last few years.  I can't even remember the last time I used it.  I moved a couple of years ago, and can't remember if I've ever used it since the move.

So, I'm wondering if you (or anyone reading this) bothered to save that MP3 when you listened to it back in 2011.  If you did, I'd sure be grateful to you if you could email a copy of it to me.



(Message edited by CluelessInSeattle On 03/16/2018 09:52)
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Will in Seattle
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