Super Hang-On 20th Anniverary Collection
Super Hang-On 20th Anniverary Collection
July 5, 2007
Buy Used Copy
Most gamers growing up in the 1980s will remember Super Hang-On or even its predecessor Hang-On playing at Arcades. The games represented a twist on the stand racing formula with their motorbiking gameplay and were also graphically and aurally advanced for their times. 20 years on from Super Hang-On‘s release, Sega decided to make a definitive album tribute to the series. The album features the original scores for both Hang-On and Super Hang-On. It is also flanked by bonus arrangements, entitled ‘Sound! Shock Arranges’, by the band H. and Koichi Namiki.
The album opens with a ‘feel good’ arranged version of the series’ main theme, “Theme of Love”, by Sega’s new band H. Hiroshi Kawaguchi initially leads the remixes with a retro keyboard interpretation of the melody while bassist Takenobu Mitsuyoshi provides solid support. As the theme develops, there is plenty of variation as each performer gets a chance to shine; first Mitsuhara Fukuyama appears with a jazzy trumpet solo before guitarist and pianist start jamming in a progressive rock style. The final minutes of the arrangement epitomise the jazz fusion feel of Sega’s Arcade works with the trumpet taking the melody against rock backing. The four track soundtrack to Hang-On follows and its highlight is, of course, the original version of the Kawaguchi’s main theme. Even back in 1985, it was incredibly charming with its catchy synthy melody yet suitably subdued textures. The rest of the score features short tracks intended only for subsidiary purposes; while “Name Entry” is kind of cute, “Title” is little more than a moody chord progression and “Goal” is an annoying jingle. Still, there’s little reason to skip these as they’re brief.
The production values definitely improved with the Super Hang-On soundtrack created in 1987. The synth is still ahead of its time and there is more attention paid to musical detail. Even the subsidiary themes, namely “Opening” and “Name Entry”, are quite atmospheric and memorable despite their simplicity. However, there are also four well-developed themes used while racing. Katsuhiro Hayashi’s “Outride a Crisis” evolves from its mellow introduction into a more punchy theme. The synth improvisation from the 1:28 mark is especially fitting with its intense yet elegant progressions. Meanwhile “Sprinter” offers a more melodic track featuring a charismatic guitar lead and rhythmically compelling accompaniment. Koichi Namiki’s “Winning Run” probably has the most retro feel on the soundtrack with its use of evocative chord progressions and cheery melodies inspired by 80s melodies. Finally, Shigeru Owada’s “Hard Road” offers more intensity with its brash guitar work and heavily punctuated accompaniment to stunning effect in context.
Kawaguchi’s bonus arrangement of “Hang-On ~Theme of Love~” from the Cool Riders soundtrack is a fun addition to the set. It really captures the old-school spirit of the original while offering modern jazz and rock work. The soundtrack ends with Koichi Namiki’s arranged version of the four main themes from Super Hang-On. “Outride a Crisis” is a solid way to start, faithfully preserving the melody of the original while adding an even stronger jazz fusion flavour. The successive original electric guitar solos makes the arrangement all the more incredible. The subsequent rock arrange of “Sprinter” gets just the balance right between hard and mellow, realistic and synthy, orthodox and new. This is by far the definitive version of the theme and beats even the S.S.T. Band version. Koichi Namiki also restores his own composition “Winning Run” to its intended 80s glory; it’s as melodic and emotional as some of the best 80s pop tunes out there and also features my personal favourite guitar passages on the album. Naturally Namiki leads out the album with the hardest and fastest arrangement of all, “Hard Road”. It’s a great finish to perhaps Namiki’s finest arranged section to date.
This is a fine tribute to a classic mini-series. The original scores were technologically advanced for their time and there are a fair few classics within, most notably “Theme of Love” and “Winning Run”. However, the arranged tracks take things to the next level. Whether the unique hybridised sound of H.’s opening arrangement or the flashy electric guitar work of Koichi Namiki’s closers, they also satisfy. Unlike Sega’s other recent tribute albums, there isn’t any redundancy here and most tracks are worth revisiting over and over. It also goes at a good price for the quality of material offered. Whether you enjoyed the games, like classic game music in general, or want to add some rocking arrangements to your collection, the Super Hang-On 20th Anniverary Collection is a worthwhile investment.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.