Mannheim Steamroller is best known for their multi-platinum selling Christmas and Holiday albums, which proved to the music industry that holiday music wasn’t the "last gasp" genre for dying artists.
However, prior to the 1984 release of Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, the group had already made a name for themselves amongst audiophiles with their Fresh Aire album series. This top/best of list draws from all 8 of the Fresh Aire albums.
Here are my top 5 countdown of Mannheim Steamroller Songs from their Fresh Aire (FA) album series:
5. Chakra #4 (Fresh Aire 7)
The best song from the album that won the 1991 Grammy Award for Best New Age album. The song is both haunting and relaxing, and since Chakra #4 is the Heart Chakra, this song evokes emotions that come from the heart. Favorite moment — 4:12. The whole song is good, but this is my favorite bit.
4. Going To Another Place (FA II)
This song just reminds me of the excitement that surrounds departing on a long-anticipated journey. Recapitulating a theme that Mannheim Steamroller introduced in the Fantasia section earlier in the album, it is a perfect blend of the Mannheim Steamroller's signature medieval rock-n-roll, and a fitting conclusion to the musical journey that the album provides. Favorite moment — 2:00. Great transition into the final verse and outro.
3. Mere Image (FA III)
There are so many favorites of mine that come from this album, however Mere Image is the one that makes the all-time 3rd best. It was originally written for the Omaha Ballet, and is a musical journey from youth to old age. Favorite moment — 0:31. The harpsichord entrance here is grand and seems to herald the vigor of youth.
2. Lumen/Escape From The Atmosphere (FA V)
This whole album is based on a dream Johann Kepler had of travelling to the moon. The opening track, Lumen, features the renowned Cambridge Singers, and Escape From The Atmosphere is really nothing like any previous Mannheim Steamroller song up until this point. It evokes images of leaving the earth's gravitational pull, floating weightless in space, and entering moon orbit.
Favorite moment — 5:33. This part of the breakdown is really nice, especially the use of what sounds like a Koto as the instrument that carries the melody through this section.
1. Come Home To The Sea (FA VI)
This is really the best Mannheim Steamroller song ever. Originally written for Fresh Aire VI, it was also included on Yellowstone: The Music of Nature, and Saving The Wildlife.
Considering the state of electronic synthesis at the time, the dolphin (or whale) sounds at the beginning are really rather good. But that's not what makes it such a great track. A fantastic orchestration, brilliant piano and harpsichord juxtaposition throughout, and an overall build-up of energy and emotion throughout the song catapult this one to the top. Favorite moments — 2:34 and 2:48. I am a sucker for huge build-ups, and this song has plenty, but the build-ups at these two points in the song are absolutely incredible.