The Sonic Stadium Soundtrack Squad Review: Crush 40 – True Colors: TBOStH Part 2

True Colors – The Best of Sonic the Hedgehog Part 2
by Extaticus.

There’s absolutely no question that True Colors is a truly mixed bag; not only do the various tracks on the album spread across the different genres of music known to man (ranging from sublime electro licks to romantic jazz), but the quality of the songs also varies greatly throughout. It would seem, then, that True Colors is arguably again another perfect album for any newcomer to the musical side of the Sonic franchise, as it has a hugely diverse tracklist and should be great for anybody who wants to have a taste of what the series’ soundtracks are like. However for every instance of brilliance there is a jarring example of sheer mediocrity, and the undesirably low number of decent pieces of music on this compilation is hugely disappointing.

Right off the bat, the album starts to show its true colours (if you‘ll excuse the predictable pun); Cashell’s disgraceful rendition of Un-Gravitify” is nothing less than the musical equivalent of a start-line burnout. It’s a predictable, messy and downright boring ruination of what could have been a perfectly decent track (as Crush 40‘s far superior version proves). Fortunately, this horrible abomination is followed up by “Dreams of an Absolution” – Bentley Jones’ exceptional vocal aptitude is completely unparalleled by anything else on the album (including Johnny Gioeli‘s mind-blowing performance on the final track; more on that later), and the incredible combination of guitars, synthesisers and harmonies is simply spectacular.

Although the SA1 version of “Believe in Myself” was awesome piece of prime bubblegum rock, this newer edition is riddled with massive flaws and huge imperfections; this does NOT belong on a “best-of” compilation. I’ll also be blunt with Unknown From M.E”; a truly irritating piece of crap rap claptrap, and is by far worst track on the entire album. It provides nothing but blatantly awful tedium for the entirety of its lacklustre duration, and has absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever. It’s messy, monotonous and purely diabolical tripe that should never have been allowed to exist in the first place, let alone put on a commercial release.

Luckily, this disgraceful chain of purely awful songs is smashed to pieces by the utterly fantastic electro masterpiece, Theme of E-102 Gamma”. Mixing upbeat techno and surprisingly calm piano, this track is undoubtedly one of the greatest pieces of instrumental synthesised music ever to have been written. Though it’s usurped by DoaA and eclipsed by the “Open Your Heart K-Club Remix”, it remains one of the best pieces of music on the compilation. Look-a-like” is also exceptionally good – its wholesome and hearty pop-like feel only serves to maximise the listening pleasure that surrounds it, and its senseless yet extraordinarily catchy vocals will get lodged in your head. However this version is an edited version, and this is utterly unacceptable as it sacrifices the guitar solo. The Sonic 3 MegaD Mix” is essentially an updated version of the menu screen theme from (yup, you guessed it) Sonic the Hedgehog 3. Its funky tropical beats are simply guaranteed to make even the least agile listeners amongst you jump up and dance, and its catchy synthesised samples from the original tune will have the more aged of the listening demographic grinning like children as fond memories of the decidedly superb game flood back. All in all, it’s a wonderful track, filled to the brim with SEGA’s trademark musical brilliance; a big well-done to the composers!

Two previously unreleased tracks include Lazy Days ~ Livin’ in Paradise demo version”, and a “Hybrid Mix” of All Hail Shadow (C40 backing with Magna-Fi’s vocals). Both are fairly good pieces of music, although the originals would definitely have been far more well-received on the album. From the mesmerising piano intro ofDreams of an Absolution (Starry Night Remix)”, I just knew that it was going to be a true winner. This upbeat, fluent masterwork from Bentley Jones and co. provides nothing but pure, unadulterated bliss, outshining the original version by a long shot. This new mix is a pinpoint-perfect example of how it should be done.

The album’s climactic finish is certainly that; with a mind-blowing remix of revered Crush 40 song, “Open Your Heart”. Mark my words: this track is truly a magnum opus of undeniably epic proportions; a consistent and pure piece of electro-rock excellence, this is the pinnacle of the album, exceeding even the magnificence of the previous track. Jun Senoue and his band of musical misfits have clearly saved the best ‘till last.

Overall, True Colors is filled to the absolute brim with real corkers, but has an equal amount of garbage accommodating the brilliance. It’s such a shame, too, as this could have been really good had it not been for a few idiotic decisions in choosing songs for the tracklist. Oh well; there’s always a third try, right? [6]

Thumbs Up!: Open Your Heart (again? Jeez…).
Thumbs Down: *Hocks and spits* Unknown From M.E.

JEZMM:
“If True Blue was about the quality of the music in the franchise, this compilation is about the wider variety of the music, covering almost every genre that modern Sonic has touched upon to great success. My only disappointment with the album was that there was only one song that was an entirely original, never-before-heard remix, and it was a song that has been remixed several times already –” Dreams Of An Absolution”. Having said that, it’s a beautiful and inspiring remix, and while we have heard a bit of the almost-new Open Your Heart remix before, that’s still an amazing track too. The other bonus tracks however either aren’t huge deviations from the originals, or are simply rarer tracks from Sonic’s history. On the plus side for long-time fans though, this is the first official release of “E-102’s theme” to have a definitive finish, and “Cosmic Eternity” has a slightly extended ending. As a fan of all varieties of Sonic music, I found it to be a fantastic musical celebration of the extended cast, although those who would rather Sonic stick to one genre may have mixed feelings.” [8]

Thumbs Up!: Fantastic variety of tracks. The new stuff ranges from “nice” to “awesome”.
Thumbs Down!: One too many Shadow-related tracks. New content may disappoint some.
Favourite Track: Dreams Of An Absolution (Starry Night Remix)

BLITZCHRIS:
“Both True Blue and its more recent brother True Colours, interest me for one major reason. Remixes. True Blue did well, but has True Colours stepped up to the plate? I dare say it has, bringing home 4 new and 1 previously released but unobtainable remixes. The long awaited Lee Brotherton remix, “Open Your Heart” attempts to modify the more rock-driven song into something suitable for a club, and does so with flare. Crush40 return with Mike Szuter of Magna-Fi fame to produce a mix most fans will appreciate with a combined cover of All Hail Shadow. There is something almost, ‘complementary’ about the grouping of Mike’s voice with Jun’s guitar. Ohtani’s ‘Starry Night’ remix of ‘Dreams of an Absolution’ was the low point of the album for me, destroying one of the songs that saved Sonic06 from complete embarrassment. It sounded like a mash between two songs that just didnt ever belong together. Lastly, the original demo for Lazy Days just wasn’t as cheesy and doesn’t have the same energy as its original. It was interesting however to hear how the song has evolved since its original release. It’s not a bad mix, just something different. A listenable version of the “Sonic3 MegaD Mix” was a cause for celebration, with the track only previously obtainable through the menu background music of another game. I’m a massive fan of “look-a-like” and I would have loved to have seen a more complete version; it was nice to see its inclusion anyway. ” [8]

Thumbs Up: The track selection for the rest of the disc was fairly spot on.
Thumbs Down: Ohtani’s ‘Starry Night” remix did not impress at all.
Killer Track: All Hail Shadow

T-BIRD:
“Again, like I did with my review for the C40 album, I’m going to pitch from the collector’s end of the pitch. While I can’t faulter the selection of tracks here (indeed, nice to see some unexpected stuff like Gamma’s theme), and a double-whammy of Shadow tracks in the form of Julien-K will always go down well. However it’s the same old Sonic tunes re-packaged, and I think there’s only so much of this the fanbase will lap up. Where are all the classic chip-tune tracks? If I was in marketing i’d be putting together a “Best of Classic Sonic” and stuffing it full of Sonic 1,2, 3&K tracks, and surfing the demand of even the non die-hard fans wanting to purchase a little bit of their childhood in CD form. Am I right? The remix and demo tracks are nice little touches to the end of the album, and it’s good to see some of the more obscure pieces like “Look-A-Like” haven’t been forgotten by SEGA as again this is probably a definitive track for a number of people in the fanbase. I think the real destroyer track on this album is the “K-Club mix of Open Your Heart” as it tears up both the melody and tempo of the original and makes something brand new – something the fans want and this album on the whole fails to deliver. If you’re gonna buy one of the new albums from last year kids, go for the C40 compilation, or better yet Jun Senoue’s “The Works”. [6]

Thumbs Up!: A thoughtful selection of non-Sonic character themes from through the ages.
Thumbs Down!: You’ve probably got most the tracks already.
Killer Track: Open Your Heart (K-Club Mix)

A “truly colourful” collection of new and old tracks. Yet, this is another album on which re-released tracks feature predominantly, with the mixed bag of six new songs splitting opinion.

True Colors is still available for purchase from the Jun Senoue Official Store, as well as play-asia, and CD-Japan.

Are we totally off the mark again?  Or… do you agree with us? Let us know in the comments!