Video Games Live: Volume One

[back cover]
Catalog Number: 5 08136 2 (alternate print TOCP-70794)
Released On: July 24, 2008 (alternate print July 1, 2009)
Composed By: Hikaru Utada, Jason Hayes, Robyn Miller, Tim Larkin, Jack Wall, Michael Giacchino, Christopher Tin, Gerard Marino, Tommy Tallarico, Michael Plowman, Emmanuel Fratianni, Laurie Robinson, Wendy Carlos, Martin O'Donnell, Michael Salvatori, Kinuyo Yamashita, Konami Kukeiha Club, Michiru Yamane
Arranged By: Kaoru Wada, Benoît Grey, Steve Zuckerman, Michael Giacchino, Christopher Tin, Martin Leung, Emmanuel Fratianni, Laurie Robinson, David Kates, Christopher Nickel, David Kates, Martin O'Donnell, Michael Salvatori, Tommy Tallarico
Published By: EMI Classics (alternate print EMI Music Japan)
Recorded At: Various
Format: 1 CD

01 - Kingdom Hearts
02 - Warcraft Suite
03 - Myst Medley
04 - Medal of Honor (Live)
05 - Civilization IV Medley
06 - Tetris Piano Opus No. 1
07 - God of War Montage (Live)
08 - Advent Rising Suite
09 - Tron Montage
10 - Halo Suite
11 - Castlevania Rock (Live)
Total Time:

Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall started their own tour of live VGM performances called "Video Games Live" around the same time that Arnie Roth and crew started "PLAY!". They keep a friendly, healthy rivalry going by joking about each others' performance styles. One thing we can say for sure: Tallarico likes to have fun. He isn't, as he's said about Roth, a "stuffed shirt."

Unfortunately for the RPG nuts among us, the track selection is light on RPG fare. Yes, it opens with the fan favorite Kingdom Hearts. The performance is standard, and it's based on the sheet music developed for the orchestrated version of "Hikari" ("Simple and Clean") used on the OSTs. Then, we move right into the Warcraft Suite, which makes great use of a choir. The percussion section bangs the drums of war throughout this arrangement as well.

Next, we get a "Myst Medley." Sadly, it gives Robyn Miller's original "Myst theme" a disproportionate amount of time (about 30 seconds at the opening). The arrangement, of course, focuses on the choral pieces written by Jack Wall. After the Medal of Honor track, the vocalists come back for some Lion-King-esque "ethnic/world" music for the Civilization IV Medley. This might be my favorite track on the album; the performance is simply excellent.

It's worth noting that only three of the eleven tracks were recorded live, in concert (as noted in the tracklist). The last of them is a favorite of mine: Castlevania. This is the track where they switch out the choir and the orchestra in favor of a band setup. This is a great arrangement, even with Tallarico shouting to introduce the track.

Overall, what sells this album is the excellent choir vocals, and a lot of nostalgia. The album is enjoyable, but I would much prefer attending a live performance of VGL.

Reviewed by: Patrick Gann


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