Game Music, Reviews

Sonic Boom Trio Part 1: Jun Senoue THE WORKS (Review)

March 19, 2010 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook Sonic Boom Trio Part 1: Jun Senoue THE WORKS (Review)on Twitter

Over the course of the winter (which can go away now, thanks, and bye-bye), Wave Master released a trio of CD’s based around the works of Jun Senoue, SEGA melodic rocker and game composer. October, November and December had one release each, and we’ve finally gotten down to take a look at these 3 to see what they offer, and what we’ve already been offered in the past, numerous times. Most people associate Senoue with the recent Sonic titles, but he like everyone else has other scores that are well worth taking the time to look at.

The first CD, released in October, is Jun Senoue THE WORKS, which, as the title alludes to, is a collection of his different works on different projects, both game and original. A host of familiar names appear, and so will a few songs you’ve never heard before, at least not in the way they are presented here.

Rock on after the jump!

Now the reason why these reviews might seem a little late is because I wanted to listen to all 3 albums and see what they each presented as a combined package. All these CDs claim to have unreleased material either completely unreleased or in the way they’re presented on the album. It seems a lot of the time with these Sonic related CDs, especially those vocally centered, seem to often reuse material. This might be because some of the adventure games had the same songs over and over, like “Live and Learn,” but I still have this feeling inside that I already own some of these songs across multiple CDs purchased in a relatively short time period.

THE WORKS however, seems to be true to its word and does feature a lot of exclusive stuff, but there are some errors, though obscure. As mentioned, some Senoue regulars like “Danger Danger” Ted Poley and “Mr. Big” Eric Martin appear on the CD through vocals. Not a bad thing as I’m really into AOR and melodic rock and those guys are quite legendary. The CD should make any hard boiled American shed a patriotic tear immediately as it starts out with “The Star Spangled Banner” all rocked out in vintage Senoue style. This first appeared on the Sons of Angels – Thrill of The Feel CD from 2000, but the mix here sounds a lot cleaner. I don’t really have any feelings towards this song cause I accepted Hulk Hogan’s “Real American” as the American national anthem many years ago.

“The American Dream” and “Sons of Angels” (Man, these 3 tracks sounds like you are listening to the soundtrack of the Republican party) from Daytona USA CE feature Eric Martin and are also remixed and seems to have some parts re-recorded. I have the original Daytona USA Circuit Edition Original Soundtrack CD and I swear it sounds so much better on this album. You may remember that these 3 tracks were actually left off the Let’s Go Away box set because of licensing issues, so it’s nice to finally have them, though it makes you wonder why Wave Master didn’t just include them in the first place when they eventually went on to create this CD anyway. “Lift You Up!” is another new mix from OutRun 2 Special Tours, which is one of the coolest soundtracks SEGA has created. I love Senoue’s guitar tone, and this song is melodic hard rock all the way.

Eric Martin returns again in 2 songs never released before on CD. For some reason Senoue’s webpage named this game Managing Baseball Team Game, which is pretty much just a description rather than a name. The game is actually Pro Yakyuu Team o Tsukurou! 3 on PS2. “Batter Up!” is pretty much the standard SEGA sports theme song, very similar to some of the songs in Victory Goal, also composed by Senoue. It featues heavy guitars and Martin’s screamy vocals. It has some funny lyrics like “Strike 1, Strike 2, Strike 3 would be a shame.” “Mr. Baseball” is just a small 30 second jingle sung by Martin. I like Martin’s work here, but if you are interested in hearing him at the top of his game, listen to Tak Matsumoto Group, which is quite an amazing CD. “Baseball Anthem” with XYZ frontman Terry Ilous is yet another hard rock theme song, and by now they’ve gotten a bit tiresome, as there are 3 in a row and more to follow, but this one is at least kinda interesting.

“Road To Win” might sound a little familiar to some fans. It was featured on Mitsuyoshi’s From Loud 2 Low Too released last summer, with Mitsuyoshi doing the vocals. This version is musically the same, but with Ted Poley on vocals. I might be biased (which is most likely the case considering who we’re talking about), but I feel Mitsuyoshi did a better job on this, Engrish and all. Poley is a cool singer, but he’s way intense and can feel like he’s overdoing it, which is the case here. “Moon Shot!,” “Afternoon Tea” and “Dusk of The Stadium” close out the Pro Yakyuu Team o Tsukurou! material for now, with “Afternoon Tea” being the most interesting as a soft acoustic guitar tune which is a nice change of pace at this point. “After The Adventure” is an arrangement of “Station Square” from Sonic Adventure and “Dreams Dreams” from NIGHTS that appeared on Radio DC. The original mix of these had some incredibly cheesy French dialogue, with a couple talking about love. This, however, has the dialogue removed, leaving us with an awesome and clean acoustic arrangement of these 2 great songs. Out of all the new mixes, this is probably the best one.

“Dreams Of An Absolution (LB Vs. JS Remix)” is taken from the Sonic The Hedgehog Vocal Traxx CD, while the original is from Sonic The Hedgehog, the next gen game from 2006. The original is pretty bad, with vocals and music resembling early 2000’s europop. This mix makes it a bit more bearable, but the guitar is pretty repetitive, and the vocals are still subpar. “Westopolis” and “Cheerleaders A-Go-Go” are both unaltered versions taken from the games Shadow The Hedgehog and Space Channel 5 Part 2 while “Where I Want To Be” is very, very interesting. Back in 2005, Senoue released an EP called JXJ/Ready! with Junko Noda, a well know voice actress from most notably Love Hina. I actually pre-ordered this EP and liked it quite a bit, and “Where I Want To Be” is an English translation of “WAY TO GO!” with Skye Sweetnam on vocals. It is absolutely horrendous, with second rate Avril Lavigne style vocals, lyrics that don’t rhyme for a dime, and the mix itself is softer than the original. I guess they tried to cater to the US audience with this CD? Check out JXJ/Ready! instead.

“Takoyaki Rock” claims to be unreleased on CD, but this is actually incorrect. This song was included last year on Ted Poley’s Greatestits Vol. 1 album. The song is a pop rock song with a dash of country with Poley in over-the-top fashion. Nothing special. The next few songs are from SEGA Rally 2: “Ignition ’98… in the groove” and “Soul On Desert”. “Ignition ’98… in the groove” is a Mitsuyoshi composition so it has an awesome bassline, and the guitar track reminds me a bit of Metal Gear with its sneaky vibe. “Soul on Desert” and “SEGA Rally Championship -JS Kickstart Remix ’99-” are both from the recent arcade title Sega Racing Classic which is an HD compilation game of sorts with material taken from Daytona USA and SEGA Rally.

“Burnout Running” is quite interesting too. While I have no idea where this song is taken from, it’s credited to a game called Burnout Running, which I guess is a translated title for a jockey game, but the song itself is quite awesome. It stands out as the composition is more retro in nature thanks to TAI-HEY. It can remind you a bit of old SNK music spliced with Crush 40. The synth horns backs up the guitar in great fashion and the track, though short, is one of my favorites on this CD. The album closes out with 3 more unreleased tracks, this time from J-League Pro Soccer Club o Tsukurou! 5, including “British Rain,” “Chase The Wind” and “My Own Destiny.” “British Rain” is a laid back acoustic track with a pleasant sounding guitar, “Chase The Wind” is a fast signature Senoue track, and “My Own Destiny” is a harder metal track with some arpeggios flying around. It’s a good set of three to close with since it shows three different styles Senoue excels at.

Out of the 3 albums, this one offers the most new material, as the others reuse a lot of stuff that has been released across various CDs released by SEGA. I’m really happy all the Eric Martin tracks showed up here, and the alternate mixes of “After the Adventure” and “Road To Win” makes it a really worthwhile album to have, especially if you own the others albums where the original mixes are represented. If you’re a Jun Senoue fan, I recommend this as you are given a broader look into what he has worked with beyond Sonic, and it’s pretty much excellent all the way, with some occasional bumps.

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