Jun Senoue The Works
Jun Senoue The Works
October 21, 2009
Buy at CDJapan
Jun Senoue. I can easily place him in my top favorite video game related musicians of all time. I was introduced to his music through Sonic Adventure. Back when I played that game, I did not know who was responsible for all those guitar based tracks, I just knew it was awesome. Very influential, despite being a far different approach to the music of the Genesis era, but very welcome among plenty of Sonic fans. As I grew, I became very curious as to who can possibly be doing all these great composition, and of course, I stumbled upon the Jun Senoue name. Since then, I’ve tried very hard to stay close to his discography, and probably one of the best ways to get kick out of his work, is none other then his compilation disc, entitled The Works. It’s no surprise that Jun has been doing loads of stuff before settling to direct the Sonic soundtracks we know today, and as such, this compilation CD explores his work without fully representing too much of anything Sonic-related. And with that, let’s take a look at The Works.
This CD kicks things right off with “The Star Spangled Banner,” which I guess is now Jun’s personal trademark since he seems to use that song in a lot of his websites as the starter song. It’s a public domain song, so what can I say about that? It’s a pretty cool guitar take on a song I would listen to constantly during my Elementary years. Let’s be realistic here. No amount of Patriots and Americans would make me appreciate this song because of my school days, not even Jun’s take on it. For what it’s worth, it’s a pretty cool song, and kind of rough and dirty on the guitar riffs. The drums kind of play off ahead of the guitar itself, making the layered song feel a little too quick and yet too slow.
Now, the next few songs we get in the album all have vocals supplied by Eric Martin, of MR. BIG. I really think these songs would have had a better benefit being as instrumentals, because Eric’s performance, even with all the heart he gives out, just feels way too cheesy, and this is coming from someone who can sometimes tolerate the cheese of several Sonic related songs. As for the songs themselves, they all sound very similar among one another, especially both “The American Dream” and “Sons of Angels,” which comes from the game Daytona USA Champion Circuit Edition. It’s pretty energetic and fast.
Some of the other songs coming from baseball management titles (Pro Yakyuu Team o Tsukurou! 2 & 3) are pretty unique though. “Mr. Baseball” is especially unique, even though it only lasts a minute. Jun’s guitar performance remain top notch all throughout in these tracks, sounding a little bit similar though with some of the chords and rhythm almost being matched note for note. A little bit of acousti can be heard in these parts too. Coming up on the list is “Baseball Anthem – Fight the Fight” too with vocals provided Terry Ilous. Unlike Eric Martin, I feel a lot more comfortable listening to Ilous. It’s softer and yet more profound, and has less of a whimsical value. It’s not without it’s fair share of 80’s cheesiness, but it can fall along the same lines as say Ted Poley, who worked closely with Jun for the vocal songs on Sonic Adventure.
Speaking of Ted Poley, we get various songs on The Works supplied by this guy as well, namely “Road to Win” and “Takoyaki Rock”. The former has a progressive feel to it. It’s not a hardcore song despite the guitars in the intro. When Ted steps in to sing the intro and all the way through the chords, the song brings in a nice melody with its piano and various bits and pieces of acoustic here and about. It’s a very down to Earth song. very relaxing, as oppose to what Ted usually does what with the wailing we’ve come love (or hate). “Takoyaki Rock,” however, is such a strange song. It’s a brand new song specially made for this album, and it sounds so much like something that would come straight out of a Grease type film from Japan. I mean it. It sounds like a doo-wop, “get up and dance” kind of anthem, where Ted apparently proclaims his love for takoyaki. Oh man, I can’t hate this song — it’s too funny — but it’s not something one would love for the thrill of the music. It sounds too much like an ending theme to some wacky anime, and I guess for some, it may serve as a guilty pleasure to learn. Jun’s guitar performance is pretty good, if only with its simplistic guitar chords in this song.
If you’re looking for something Sonic related in this CD, there are two pieces that come from the Sonic franchise. First is “Westopolis” from Shadow the Hedgehog. To be honest, I’m a little baffled as to why he chose this track. It wasn’t exactly a memorable track for me, and it was weird that he chose to explore the Shadow the Hedgehog soundtrack in the first place (but if there was any track he could have picked from this game, I could have seen “GUN Fortress” being a perfect choice). What we get out of “Westopolis” is a pretty generic guitar tune that sounds “actiony”, complete with the sounds of sirens in the background, which fits the scenario of the stage this song represents. It’s not my favorite track ever, so there’s not much I’d really like to say.
In a complete 180, the other Sonic song we get is “Dream of an Absolution LB vs. JS Remix”. I say this because this has to be second favorite Sonic related song ever (the first being “With Me” from the Face to Faith album). I call this song a masterpiece because it takes the original version of the song, and includes an incredible guitar performance all the way through. Plenty of insane solos, a perfect guitar rhythm to match Lee Brotherton’s vocals, and just a fantastic remix overall. It’s great to see it packaged here, especially considering the song was only available as a bonus from the Several Wills disc originally. The song needs more love.
There is one other Sonic related track on this album. It’s called “After the Adventure”. This song never appeared in a Sonic game, but what makes it interesting is that it’s Jun’s acoustic lounge take on the “Station Square” track and Sonic’s theme “It Doesn’t Matter”. Overall, it is very relaxing. It’s the kind of song you want to hear while sitting down on a sunny day at the beach. There’s a nice layer of acoustic with some latin flavored percussion. There are insane solos or anything Jun’s known for, but a slow take is always great in my book. The section that resembles “It Doesn’t Matter” actually has the guitar playing out the vocals rather than the guitar take of either version of Sonic’s theme. It’s a fantastic take and gives its own unique twist to this own song.
And now, the song that caught my attention completely. “SEGA Rally Championship -J.S. Kickstart Remix ’99-“. Originally released on a compilation album called SEGA Racing Best, this is supposed to be a remix that houses various songs that appear in the SEGA Rally franchise (although the most recognized portion of this song would be “Getting Muddy” from the original SEGA Rally). Unfortunately, that CD didn’t sell too well, according to all the info I could gather up online.
So what can I say about this song? Well, if you were riding on what you consider the greatest rollercoaster in the world, this song would be playing in the background. It is downright the most hardcore, full throttle, epic rock song I’ve ever heard come out of Jun’s fingers. The guitar starts off slowly, playing off like the sound of a car starting its engine. In that regard, it’s sort of similar to Motley Crue’s intro to “Kickstart My Heart”, which I can see where the “Kickstart” portion of this song name comes into place. Soon enough, the drums come in, the second guitar comes in, and the race is off. About halfway through the song, the tempo slows down a bit, the guitar builds up ever so slowly, and at the quiet mark of an fantastic echoing guitar solo, everything kicks into high gear with an entirely different style of the music. It goes from an adventurous beginning, to a hardcore “go for the goal” focus, with the guitars just slamming down on that riff and various guitar solos coming in and out in a snap. It is powerful, energetic, and every bit satisfying. This song is now my favorite song EVER, period. It’s amazing considering it came out in 1999. Where was I these past 11 years?
Following the SEGA racing theme, included on this album is “Ignition ’98… In the Groove”. I can’t recall which SEGA Rally game this song appears in, but it’s been covered various times, and Jun’s take is the one I prefer from the rest. Remember the guitar solo for “Open Your Heart”? That’s essentially the same flavor of guitar licks you’re bound to hear from this version. It’s got its own echoes, trills, and a perfect melody wrapped up all together for this wonderfully short track.
The last few tracks on the album begin to simmer down, and has Jun explore the lighter side of the guitar. “British Rain” has a nice acoustic performance that makes the track feel very hopeful and delightful. “Chase the Wind” is a little more energetic, but not quite as insane as some of the previous entries on this disc — with some simple guitar chords, a nice little guitar lead. It’s got a more determination feeling then “British Rain”, and just as quickly as you get into it, the song comes to a pretty rapid end. Finishing off everything, we get “My Own Destiny”. This is the perfect way to end the album. Again, it’s not hardcore, and it’s all about Jun making the guitar weep with passion, with some memorable guitar licks. There is also a very well layered drum performance, which manages to come in strong with its basic rock and roll format, but not so much to ruin the relaxing end. As the track fades away, we finally come to an end of Jun’s The Works.
This album has allowed me to learn more about Jun and his past work outside of the Sonic franchise, and I’m very glad to have been given that chance to sit down and listen through the entire album. The album is not exactly perfect, what with songs like those with Eric Martin that make me wish the songs were nothing but instrumentals, but all of that is weighted out with perfectly selected songs, like “Dreams of an Absolution”. Not to mention, I got to hear what I feel is the greatest song I’ve ever heard in the form of “SEGA Rally Championship -J.S. Kickstart Remix ’99-“, and I can’t even begin to decide whether or not I can say the word “yet” after that sentence. Some more Sonic representations would have been nice, or at least some better chosen tracks, but this is about Jun and not Sonic, so I guess I should take that back. If you are a Jun Senoue fan, this album is the perfect choice to buy and a great companion to Crush 40’s Super Sonic Songs. If you’ve only heard nothing but Sonic tracks, be prepared to hear some new styles and experiments along the way, and I bet that after having a listen, you’ll be able to appreciate Jun the same way I do. It definitely shows off Jun’s work and history.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Rafael Orantes. Last modified on August 1, 2012.