The first volume in The Carl Stalling Project series is a revelation; more than just an essential part of a Warner Bros. staff that generated some of the finest and most inspired productions in the history of animation, Stalling was a visionary whose work deserves consideration among the finest American avant-garde music ever recorded. As these 15 selections from WB cartoons dating between 1936 and 1958 attest, his cut and paste style — a singular collision between jazz, classical, pop, and virtually everything else in between — was unprecedented in its utter disregard for notions of time, rhythm, and compositional development; Stalling didn’t just break the rules, he made them irrelevant. That in the process he created music beloved by succeeding generations of children is more impressive still — perhaps even unwittingly, Stalling introduced the avant-garde into the mainstream, and as popular music continues to diversify and hybridize, his stature as a pioneer rightfully continues to grow.
The second volume of Carl Stallings’ inspired music ranges from 1939 to 1957, taking in most of the Warner Bros. animation characters along the way, and providing a solid musical reference for the latter-day cartoons with such characters as Speedy Gonzales, the Road Runner, and Wile E. Coyote. Rather than repeat the setup for the first album, which included full soundtrack pieces and carefully assembled montage tracks, the producers this time opted to go, for the most part, with the cleanest tracks they could find. Salted between full scores are excerpts and short bits, including Stallings’ mind-boggling variations on “La Cuchuracha” and “The Mexican Hat Dance” (which undergoes more and more dizzying twists as it goes on). Carl Stallings was quite the straight man of the animation crew, it seems, a dapper fellow who never missed an appointment, threw an assignment, or, apparently, got the joke. Despite this, he created some of the most wonderfully lunatic cartoon scores known, in which his own original score elements were tightly woven with lifts from classical and popular music — he could wring more laughter out of a single sustained violin glissando than many comedians could get from a complete set. It’s easy to predict that Stallings’ work will still be a subject of interest when the work of such contemporaries as Spike Jones and Kay Kyser has faded from view.
-Jason Ankeny, Steven Mcdonald, allmusic.com