He’s been away from the Sonic the Hedgehog scene for a while, but record producer and artist Bentley Jones has come back into the fold – just in time for Sonic’s birthday – with a fresh remix of ‘Dreams of an Absolution’. Continue reading Bentley Jones is Back With A New ‘Dreams of An Absolution’ Remix
Jun Senoue – The Works
Released last November, “The Works” is as much a collection of Senoue’s best pieces , as it is a real celebration of some of the masterful work Jun has produced not only during his long reign working for SEGA, but with his many unique side-projects as well. What really puts this compilation on a pedestal over the similar releases last year (True Colours, Best of C40) was the quantity of material that wa previously unheard of on western shores. I think the first thing that becomes apparent with this album is the incredible range of talent Senoue has worked with over the years. I’m sure many would kill to have worked with the likes of Eric Martin (of Mr. Big) and Ted Poley (Danger Danger), as well as to have produced some memorable power anthems of this calibre in the process.
The album blasts off with three such fine examples including “American Dream”, “Sons of Angels” and “Batter Up!” which ooze that definitive Senoue guitar, thunderously supported in vocals by Martin. Again the frustrating matter for me regarding these these tracks is that (particularly with the tracks taken from the Japanese Baseball title Pro Team Yakyu wo Tsukuro! 2) there are more of these tracks out there that have not yet made it to print on any CD. As well as these examples of collaborative work, the album plays host to a selection of acoustic and instrumental pieces. What is most notable here particularly during the absence of guitar-heavy tunes is the sheer diversity of what Senoue can produce – from the gorgeously plinky-plonk piano piece in “Afternoon Tea”, to the ambience of “Dusk of the stadium”.
Although I don’t particularly judge this to be a negative, the album does not contain a large number of Sonic related tracks. Personally, this is refreshing considering the hardened music collector would find this simply a repetition of material they have heard time and again. Even in this case however, those tracks we have come to know and love have been totally revamped and reworked. “After the Adventure”, as the name insinuates is a reworking of material from Sonic Adventure, the emphasis here being the Station Square theme composed a-la 70’s lounge stylee. Not only this, “Cheerleaders A-Go-Go” mashes up Space Channel 5’s theme with the likes of “Open Your Heart” and (again as the name suggests) “Skydeck A-Go-Go” from Sonic Adventure to create an incandescent harmony of favourites. If you were lucky enough to pick up the JXJ album a few years back, you’ll recognise “Where I want to be” , with Junko’s vocals replaced by Sweetnam. I must admit this is the only track I remain polarised on, as I think the English lyrics sound more forced than their Japanese counterparts.
There seems to be no loss of steam as you plough through the track listing, with the up-tempo Daytona USA and SEGA Rally tracks keeping the pace all the way through to the end, before ending on “My Own Destiny”, a beautiful mid-paced , ambling-lead finisher.
In my opinion this collection blows the winter 2009 competition out of the water, speaking purely from the standpoint of someone who has heard a lot of Senoue’s previous work. If you desire something more Sonic-filled, I’d suggest you might be better off going for a Sonic soundtrack, but if you’re half the Senoue fan I am, you’ll find it very hard to fault this near-perfect array of tunes. One can only hope there is more of this to come… 
From the AC/DC-influenced guitar licks of the stylish rock version of “The Star Spangled Banner” to the serene and sublime solos of “My Own Destiny”, The Works is yet another classy compilation from SEGA’s favourite – hell, everyone’s favourite – axe-wielding guitar god, Jun Senoue. Featuring a massive spectrum of styles and sounds, this awesome album will have even the most ardent and experienced rock fanatic slavering and salivating over its powerful melodies and captivating riffs; it truly is a wonderful display of what real rock should sound like, and is also a prime example of why the guitar (however non-mainstream it may be) remains a force to be reckoned with.
The Works is another work of genius from this guitar prodigy, and should be regarded as one of the best (if not THE best) SEGA-related compilations ever to have been produced. It’s a magnificent mix of styles and emotions and creates a first-rate blend of both calm and adrenaline-fuelled rock, whilst managing to retain all of its freshness and originality throughout the entirety of its highly enjoyable duration. Make no mistake: this is Japanese guitar-based music at its absolute finest; bereft of nigh-on nothing and filled to the absolute brim with truly timeless classics, The Works is an exceptionally excellent compilation that just “works” – it’s work that Jun should be well and truly proud of. Aside from the marginal (and, indeed, ignorable) low-point, The Works is – to be as blunt as possible – perfect. What else is there left to say? 
Thumbs Up!: The nigh-on orgasmic guitar solos in Dreams of an Absolution; as Admiral Ackbar would have said it: “Your ears can’t repel guitar-power of THAT magnitude!”
Thumbs Down: Hearing Where I Want to Be, and truly wanting to be somewhere else. God only knows what was going on in Senoue-San’s head when he ousted Junko Noda and replaced her with a sickly-sweet-sounding Miley Cyrus clone…
Killer Track: Open Your Heart
Jun Senoue. No matter how you pronounce his name, you have to respect all that he has done for Sonic. His latest solo album features some of that Sonic you love, but would be more accurately described as a pallet of his work over the years. From sports games (J League Pro Soccer) to driving simulators (Daytona USA), you’re likely to find a song on the disc from a genre close to your heart. Being a Sonic remix lover, “Cheerleaders A-Go-Go” and “After The Adventure” do stand out as two of my favourite tracks. The first is a remix of Space Channel 5 with the “Live & Learn” riff, which strangely grows on you, while “After The Adventure” is a relaxing, more acoustic sounding rendition of “It Doesn’t Matter”. The JS vs LB remix of “Dreams of an Absolution” is there too if you haven’t heard it on any of the other Sonic albums it was released on. Not being very familiar with the rest of the games, I found “Soul on Desert” to be the most exciting track on the album; it really does have a desert racing feel to it that is hard too describe.
I’ll agree it is not the dream album for every sonic fan, and probably not what most fans were expecting. It is however a solid album full of juicy guitar goodness, and any fans of Jun will enjoy it. The tracks do grow on you, so before you criticise, give the album a shot. Lastly – Jun, if you’re listening, we NEED an instrumental of Cheerleaders! 
Thumbs Up!: The first time listening to “Cheerleaders A-Go-Go” and wondering if I was going mental. Then squealing like a little girl when I realised the riff was intentional!
Thumbs Down: I would have loved more representation from the Sonic franchise, you can never have enough remixes.
Killer Track: Soul on Desert
Similar to Crush 40’s recent compilation, I found myself phasing in and out of this because a good deal of the songs are very similar in style. However at the same time, despite this there were still certain songs that really jumped out at me and I loved from start to finish. “Lift You Up!”“Road to Win” really reminded me of some of the stuff he came up with for SA2; really energetic and uplifting (as the name suggests!). also grabbed me with its almost magical and nostalgic quality to it, another fantastic cheerful track with some lovely piano work too. As another bonus to Sonic fans, there are neat lounge remixes of Station Square and It Doesn’t Matter within “After The Adventure”, and the surreal “Cheerleaders A-Go-Go” features a few sneaks of memorable Sonic tunes. I also found myself loving the short acoustic guitar instrumentals of “Afternoon Tea” and “British Rain”, and “My Own Destiny” was a brilliant ending.
Overall this is a fantastic album – there are just a few tracks I found so similar in vibe, a couple could have been cut for a more concise listening experience. Having said that, if you’re not familiar with where the songs came from, reaching track 11 and suddenly realising “hang on… the last 6 tracks were ALL about baseball” is certainly a unique experience to get from an album. 
Thumbs Up: The fantastic selection that really shows off Jun’s versatility – from his classic rock stylings to relaxing acoustic and catchy techno mixes.
Thumbs Down: Track order can be a little uninspiring as an overall album experience, with many similar songs grouped together too.
Favourite Track: Lift You Up!/Road To Win (I can’t choose!)
A fantastic collection of pieces, including some wonderful reworkings of old classics and huge selection of new and unheard material. Don’t be put off by the lack of Sonic tunes if you are a Senoue fan!
The Works is still available for purchase from play-asia, and CD-Japan.
Got your own opinions on the album? Think we’ve got it all wrong? Let us know in the comments!
Earlier today Lee Brotherton – better known as Bentley Jones – posted a statement on his blog regarding the use of his work on recent Sega/Wavemaster music album releases. In an uncharacteristically formal language, he singled out last year’s True Colors: The Best of Sonic the Hedgehog Part 2, notable for his previously unheard vocals in the track Open Your Heart (K-Klub Remix).
The full message from his blog is below.
It disappoints me to announce that the latest SEGA / Wave-Master releases relating to the Sonic series have proceeded without my consent, approval or notification. Specifically regarding the “True Colors” album, I wish to stress that I have not paid any direct contribution to its production at any point and is therefore not an accurate representation of my work. Furthermore; the music, vocals, production, engineering and my likeness(es) that appear on these albums do so without my permission, proper crediting and, in some instances, by breaching the copyrights of my work.
The royalties that I would normally be entitled to for any music that I have written have been denied, and so the only people who have been profiting from the exploitation of me and my music are SEGA.
The delay in issuing this statement has been due to legal investigations, and because of ongoing inquiries it may not be possible to comment on this area of my work through any medium: my sincerest apologies to the fans. Under protest, I will not list nor promote these albums as I do not consider them to be official additions to my discography.
I hope that my fans will understand and sympathise with this situation and I hope it will be resolved very soon.
// Bentley x
Bentley Jones rose to Sonic stardom some years ago when he was invited by Jun Senoue to create some remixes for Shadow the Hedgehog’s soundtrack. He has since worked on one of the theme songs to Sonic 06, Dreams of an Absolution, along with various remixes. From this – and his past work creating club mixes of pop songs for Remix Factory – Bentley Jones has created a solo career that resulted in a hit dance cover album in Japan. His popularity in the fanbase has made him a regular at the Summer of Sonic convention.
This could be a case of legal misunderstanding between the two parties, and Bentley Jones remained tight-lipped about any potential litigation process. But, this is some pickle, and we at least hope it’s resolved soon with minimal fuss.
SEGA Japan’s new online store is currently taking orders for the upcoming compilation CD, “True Colors 2: The Best of Sonic the Hedgehog – Part 2”. The release – one of three CDs that Jun Senoue is producing – is going for ￥2,500, which works out at about £16.70. The record won’t be on sale officially until the 16th December 2009.
You can order the title from SEGA’s Ebten store (their replacement for their dedicated SEGA Direct online service), or alternatively Amazon’s Japan website (click for translation) is selling the CD for the same price and is likely to ship overseas.
Amazon’s website reveals a portion of the tracklist that we can expect to find on the record, which includes themes from Sonic Adventure 2’s “Throw It All Away” and E-102 Gamma’s theme from Sonic Adventure. An original demo version of “Lazy Days”, a new remix of “Dreams of an Absolution” and a Hybrid Mix of “All Hail Shadow” featuring Magna-Fi’s Mike Szuter is also revealed.
Sounds like a pretty special tracklist, for sure. Who’s interested in getting a copy once December hits?
If the Summer of Sonic wasn’t already awesome enough, it just got a whole lot more exciting.
Lee Brotherton a.k.a. Japanese chart-topping solo artist and Sonic fangirl heart-throb Bentley Jones has announced via the good old communication media of Facebook and Twitter that he will be attending Summer of Sonic again this year. Bentley Jones is the musical genius behind several Remix-Factory songs to have featured in recent Sonic titles, and more notably known for “Dreams of an absolution (Silver’s theme)” from Sonic ‘06 as well as versions of “His World”, “Open Your Heart” and “Seven Rings in Hand”.
To what capacity Lee will be attending the event is yet to be confirmed, but either way, we are absolutely stoked to have a legend of the Sonic universe return for the second year running. Only 34 more days to wait!
Bentley Jones (aka Lee Brotherton) rocks ass. As we all know, this is official fact. He has spent more time in Sonic music than any sane person should and rocked the balls out at the Summer Of Sonic 2008 event. If you don’t know who he is, (fool) then think back to Sonic 06. Remember Silvers theme tune? Dreams of an Absolution? That was him… OHH YEAAH.
Back in November Mr.Jones was happy to announce he signed with EMI Music Japan and now FINALLY in the week just past his album “Trans//Lation” was released! We have samples of four tracks for you.
- 素直になれたら ～FINAL NIGHT～
- GLAMOROUS SKY
After you’ve finished orgasming at the greatness of these tracks, head over and buy yourself a copy of TRANS//LATION!!
If you need a reason as to why Lee Brotherton/Bentley Jones coming to the Summer of Sonic convention is a big deal, you need look no further than Silver’s theme in Sonic 06. Compared to a token performance by ‘hip’ and ‘with it’ Zebrahead and a cover of a past theme, it’s easily the best on the soundtrack.
For those who live, breathe and sleep for Bentley Jones though, you can grab a Guitar Hero III mod for the PC that has a note chart for Dreams of an Absolution: LB vs JS Remix. We’d post where you can download this mod yourself, but we can’t find a source and the actual note chart is horrible. So we’ll post this video instead.
You can always hassle the video author on his Youtube page. We’d mention how the guy’s performance isn’t too good but then we’re pretty crap at GH ourselves. Hell, those Wii-groomed grannies can rock out with plastic better than we can. But that’s probably not a topic for discussion on here.
SUMMER OF SONIC / DREAMS OF A GUITAR HERO – Bentley Jones’ Blog
Lee Brotherton, the artist-otherwise-known-as Bentley Jones, the remixer-previously-known-as LeeBro, will be attending the Summer of Sonic convention when it takes place on the 9th August. For those who haven’t really been paying attention to this site or Sonic fans in general, LB is the guy behind the aural delight that is ‘Dreams of an Absolution’, Silver’s theme from the eyesore that is Sonic ’06. And people go crazy for his man chest. They like the song a lot too, but no doubt its his chest they all want.
He will be at the very first Sonic convention throughout the day, chatting to people like an unimportant person and then popping on stage for a Q&A session like an important person. Those who have registered their interest in the Summer of Sonic event can log into the website now and post in the Comments section of the relevant news item, where you can write any burning questions you have for the remixer-cum-popstar.
Due to his recent health problems (as mentioned on TSS a while ago), it’s unknown yet whether he will be up for a performance on stage following the Q&A session. The organisers (read: me and AAUK) are looking into it, but don’t put a line under anything yet. Last thing we want is someone’s voicebox bursting out of their throat or something. Mind you, that’d be a hell of a headline, huh?
Special Guest: Lee Brotherton – Summer of Sonic
Dreams of an Absolution star Lee Brotherton has just come out of hospital following surgery on his back. According to his official blog, the singer says that he discovered a lump which ended up being a tumour – which was rather quickly removed. But even now he’s out and about he won’t sit down – word has it that even though ‘LB’ is taking it slow, he’s still preparing for an assault on the Japanese market (as in breaking into the J-Pop charts, not an actual attack on some fishmonger or anything).
We wish him all the best and a swift recovery. Those who are keeping an eye on his lavish pop persona, Bentley Jones, will find some footage of him recording in bandages on youtube soon. He’s such a trooper, that boy.
We like BentLEE Brotherton-Jones. We’ve spoken to him and everything. He’s not quite high on our list as Richard Jacques, but he’s responsible for some awesome tracks in Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic 06 so that’s enough for us to stalk him on occasion.
Formerly Lee Brotherton and now going under the pseudonym ‘Bentley Jones’, the Remix Factory starchild is releasing a new solo album, due soon. We’ve been sent a sneaky recording of a brand new remix of fan favourite ‘Dreams of an Absolution’, taken during an Open Studio Day promoting the album.
The recording was taken from an insider’s phone while Bentley previewed the track. The album will also include a remix of ‘Open Your Heart’ which you can preview on…. erm… ‘BJ’s website, bentleyjones.com.
We’ll be chatting to good ol’ Bentley soon, so keep an eye on this space for a catch-up about the remixes. Thanks for the tip, ‘Joe Schmoe’!
UK based music production studio Remix Factory have come a long long way, but you wouldn’t think that one of the main areas they’re making waves in is the Sonic community. The studio, who are all pure Sonic fans through and through, first made an impact making two remixed tracks for Shadow the Hedgehog. Continue reading TSS Interview: Return to the Remix Factory