Doujin, Game Music

Time to Tune in to Something New: Retro Remix Revue Volume 2!

September 14, 2009 | | 8 Comments Share thison Facebook Time to Tune in to Something New: Retro Remix Revue Volume 2!on Twitter

Almost one year ago to the day, Retro Remix Revue, led by Blaine McGurty, released their arrangement album Retro Remix Revue: Volume 1 on iTunes. The album was a blend of many different styles and instrument, with McGurty himself being responsible for the arrangements and synth work. The album was well received with it’s diverse sound and feel, going from rock to jazz which is a little similar to The OneUps in its approach.

A year has passed us by, and Retro Remix Revue is ready to release Volume 2.

Hit the jump to read our review and thoughts on the album!

As with the first album, McGurty put together a mix of old favorites and some unexpected but much welcome choices for the tracklist. Let’s take a look at the full line up:

1.Super Mario Bros. 3 – Overworld BGM, Athletic BGM
2 Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse – Beginning
3 Earthbound – Title Intro, Fourside
4 Sonic the Hedgehog – Marble Zone
5 Chrono Trigger – Secret of the Forest
6 Street Fighter II – Guile’s Theme
7 Donkey Kong Country – Aquatic Ambience 05:51
8 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Gerudo Valley
9 Mario Paint – Gnat Attack Level 1 05:30
10 Kirby’s Dream Land 3 – Iceberg
11 Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars – Sad Song, Forest Maze
12 Mega Man 7 – Junk Man

Not too shabby! Like the first release, Vol. 2 starts with a Mario title, this time Super Mario Bros 3 which is a wonderful jazz arrangement. McGurty is on the piano for this song, accompanied by Trey Henry on acoustic bass and Adam Alesi on drums. There is a really nice bass solo in this song, before kicking into the faster paced “Athletic Theme.” Overall a really good, inspired track, with the “Athletic Theme” being the highlight.

Next is a song familiar to all game fans, Castlevania 3’s “Beginning.” Now sometimes we run into a problem where the source material has been arranged and covered so much, it’s hard to stand out from the crowd. This song sadly has this problem. Fans such as myself have just heard this song too many times in too many ways, especially in the heavier style that this track uses. There is nothing bad about it per se, but the arrangement is not as strong as some others featured in Dwelling of Duels, for example, and the original section feel a bit drawn out with tacky solos. It’s the weakest track on the album, but don’t get me wrong: it’s not bad, it’s just been done better.

Next up, Earthbound! Who doesn’t love this title, or atleast its soundtrack? Heartless people, like that OJ Simpson, that’s who. It features two of the best songs from the soundtrack as well, including “Title Intro” and “Fourside,” and clocks in at 8 minutes. One of the biggest productions on the CD by far, making use of countless instruments like acoustic guitar, trombone, violin, cello, and flugelhorn; it’s all here. The arrangement feels really professional, the the playing is top notch and the original sections fit like a glove. Really impressive stuff, especially at 8 minutes.

“Marble Zone” from Sonic The Hedgehog is next up, and it’s absolutely awesome. Awesome synth work, feeling quite retro and fresh. Despite being mostly a synth-based arrangement, it does take use of electric guitars and bass, along with live drums, giving it quite an interesting sound, and the original section is awesome, almost exceeding the Sonic part completely. One of the best tracks on the CD for sure.

“Secret of the Forest” from Chrono Trigger puts the violin to use again, which is good as it’s my favorite instrument if used right, and on this track, it most certainly is. A mellow, beautiful track, with a great piano\bass section. We then have “Guile’s Theme.” This is a funny one, as the arrangement is very reminiscent of the style used in the new Punch Out!! game for Wii, which was inspired by the music in Rocky. So either McGurty watched Rocky recently, or he played Punch Out!! Wii, but either way, it’s a good track, and an interesting take on a very familiar track to many. The guitar is a little shaky though, especially during the main melody.

Also like the first album, this features songs from Rare’s Donkey Kong Country trilogy on SNES. This time we get treated to “Aquatic Ambience” from the first title, and it starts out quite similar to the original and remains true to its source with a very relaxed and mysterious sound. The instruments selected are perfect, with flute, violin and synth being in the forefront. The “Marble Zone” synth lead returns here, and I love it. Very solid arrangement. “Gerudo Valley” from LOZ: Ocarina of Time follows up next and my goodness what a track it is! My girlfriend is latino but this track is way hotter than her, with the acoustic guitar being absolutely brilliant, and trumpets backing it up. This track actually reminds me a bit of Tom Jones’s mega super hit, “Young New Mexican Puppeteer.” What, you’ve never heard of it? Well, trust me, it’s a good track. The original section in “Gerudo Valley” is smoking hot as well, with guitar player Ramon Stagnaro showcasing some awesome skills. Amazingly hot stuff, which is expected when you have someone named Ramon on the team.

“Gnat Attack” from Mario Paint returns to the solid jazz style, making use of some funky sax playing. This track is really similar in style to The OneUps, which of course is a compliment, and both RRR and OneUps do a great job at it. Kirby’s Dream Land 3’s “Iceberg” has a really fast paced wacky feel with lots of different sounds, solid bass playing and fast drums. The synth is top notch here as well. “Sad Song, Forest Maze” from Super Mario RPG is really beautiful, with classical piano and violin making it feel truly sad, and it’s quite professional sounding, almost right out of an official arrangement album. Halfway through the tuba kicks in and leads us into a very medieval sounding setting, and is a bit of a contrast to the sad beginning, but it works well.

“Junk Man” from Mega Man 7 ends the album on a good note. I wish more people would look at the Mega Man soundtracks beyond 2 and 3, as so much quality stuff is to be found. “Junk Man” is a great track to cover in the synth rock style being used, and again, the original section is awesome. Not as good as “Marble Zone,” but that song is a tough act to beat.

So all in all, I find this release to be even better than Vol. 1. The only dud is Castlevania 3, but it’s so hard to do a track like that without being swallowed into the sea of other covers like it, but Earthbound, “Gerudo Valley” and “Marble Zone” are absolutely worth the price alone, and the rest is of high quality. What’s interesting is seeing how well the original parts integrates with the arrangements of fan favorites, it really shows some good song writing skills from McGurty, and he should maybe consider having 1 or 2 original tracks on his next volume, as it would be interesting to hear.

Another album that helps make 2009 one of the best years for game music arrangements, and a worthy addition to your collection.

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